Spring, TX March 16,2011 – In an effort to Stop Diabetes and the devastating effects of this disease in our community, Chris LeCates, a diabetes youth advocate in Spring, TX, joined more than 200 diabetes advocates from across the country in Washington, D.C. for the American Diabetes Association’s Call to Congress. Call to Congress, the Association’s premier national advocacy effort, was held March 9 – March 11, 2011.
Attendees included children and adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, family members of individuals with diabetes, researchers and other health care professionals. All are committed to advocacy efforts at the local, state, and national levels. LeCates was diagnosed at age 8 with Type 1 diabetes. LeCates, now 15, made his first trip to Washington, D.C. in an advocacy effort. Chris said, “I was involved in a research study last year at Texas Children’s Hospital where I was given injections of Byetta before meals to see if it would help prevent the high blood sugars soon after eating. Dr. Heptulla told me that the research was funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). This research not only showed a benefit to me but helped researchers see things they may not have originally thought. This research is so important, but it cannot continue without funding. That is why I wanted to go to Washington, D.C. and let our legislators know how important it is. I realized when I got there how many people are affected by diabetes. I felt like I was representing the 1.6 million people in Texas that are affected by diabetes.”
On March 10th, LeCates and the other advocates met with Members of Congress and their staff , including Kay Bailey Hutchison, John Cornyn, and Judge Ted Poe to urge them to support federal funding levels in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 for diabetes research and prevention programs at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recognizes the magnitude of the nation’s diabetes epidemic. LeCates said, “I was very intimidated at first but I soon realized that they were all very supportive and were very interested in what we had to say. They were all aware that diabetes is a big problem in Texas and all said they knew how important this funding was.”
After a long day on Capitol Hill, LeCates and several other youth advocates from around the country relaxed at the hotel and played pool and got to know each other. LeCates said, “It was very interesting to meet young people also affected by diabetes from different areas of the country. They were all equally committed to being a diabetes advocate. I was also fortunate to be in the same group with John Griffin, Jr., the Chair of the Board of the American Diabetes Association. I learned a lot from Mr. Griffin in our short time preparing for our visit with Senator Hutchison. He helped me to be ready when I met with the representative of Judge Ted Poe’s office later.”