Diabetic Duluth sisters to lobby in Washington for research supportAnna, 11, and Emma, 13, Arntsen from Duluth will lobby Washington, D.C., lawmakers and policymakers next week to support research to reduce the impacts of type 1 diabetes until a cure is found.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
Two sisters from Duluth will lobby Washington, D.C., lawmakers and policymakers next week to support research to reduce the impacts of type 1 diabetes until a cure is found.
“I’m super-excited that we got this awesome opportunity to go and talk to our legislators about how hard it is to live with diabetes,” Anna Arntsen said. “We can live with it, but insulin isn’t a cure; it’s just life support. We need to find a cure so we don’t have to live with this disease all our lives.”
Anna, 11, was diagnosed with diabetes at age 2. Her sister, Emma, 13, was diagnosed at age 3. Both use insulin pumps to help control their blood-sugar levels.
The sisters are among 150 child delegates ages 4 to 17 from around the nation attending the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s 2013 Children’s Congress Monday through Wednesday. A charitable supporter of type 1 diabetes research, JDRF is sponsoring $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries.
“I’m really proud of the girls for speaking up on behalf of funding diabetic research,” said their mother, Alyssa Arntsen. “It’s nice for them to feel what they are doing can make a difference.”
To be selected, the sisters completed applications outlining what they have done. They were diabetes walk ambassadors, have talked to state lawmakers and have given diabetes talks to help their classmates understand what diabetes is and how it affects their lives.
“It’s a challenge,” Alyssa Arntsen said. “It’s a 24/7 disease; you never get to have a break from it.”
The sisters were the only delegates chosen from Minnesota.
Despite their diabetes, Emma and Anna are active — Anna with soccer and taekwondo, Emma with dancing. In her Children’s Congress delegate video, Emma talks about having to test her blood sugar before and after dancing. Occasionally, she needs to stop to eat.
“It would be a big change for me if they did find a cure” for diabetes, she said. “I’m really excited to go to spread awareness about it.”
The Children’s Congress, led by JDRF International chairwoman Mary Tyler Moore, is held every other summer. Delegates will visit members of Congress and will attend a Senate hearing at which Moore and others will testify on the need to pay for continued type 1 diabetes research.