MILTON — Twenty-four hours after sitting before a panel of U.S. senators while sharing about her experiences as a Type 1 diabetic, 16-year-old Adriana Richard remained impressed by the kind words a senator shared with her.
Richard, who is from Milton, was one of 160 children from across the nation selected to participate in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Children’s Congress, held this week in Washington, D.C.
She was one of two participants in the Children’s Congress selected to testify Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. Her testimony came at the invitation of Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who has introduced the Affordable Health Care for Children with Disabilities Act.
According to a release from Casey, the act would help cover the medical costs of children with diabetes, which would include the cost of insulin for children with Type 1 diabetes.
Richard has been battling diabetes since she was 5.
After her testimony, Richard was impressed with the words of support Casey shared with her.
“He told me I did really good, that I was a role model,” Richard said. “I never expected that. He was super nice.”
She believes her testimony, as well as meetings she and other children had with legislators, will make a difference.
“I definitely felt like all of us there left a huge impact on the senators,” Richard said.
After arriving in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Richard and others who were selected to testify before the committee attended a meeting to help them prepare for the experience.
Participants in the meeting included 70-year-old actor Victor Garber, who has appeared in such productions as “Titanic” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
“He has been a diabetic for 60 years,” Richard said, of Garber. “He told me he was just as nervous (about testifying) as everyone else. He told me ‘we are all in this together.’”
On Tuesday, members of the Children’s Congress attended training sessions to prepare them to meet with legislators.
Celebrities battling diabetes also attended those meetings. Richard was photographed with actress Jennifer Stone, who is known for her appearances in “Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars” and Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.”
Two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series race winner Ryan Reed also participated.
After the training session, Richard met with Casey, a representative from the office of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Congressman Fred. Keller (R-Pa. 12).
While meeting with legislators, Richard said the members of the Children’s Congress were tasked with asking for $150 million be advocated annually for five years for the Special Diabetes Program, which is administered through the National Institutes of Health.
She said the funding would support clinical research and noted that Casey is “very supportive” of the proposal.
While she was impressed with her interactions with Casey at the time of the hearing, she also enjoyed interacting with him at his office.
“He treated us like we were his friends,” Richard said.
She was also comfortable meeting with Keller, and was particularly impressed with his familiarity with Milton and the Central Susquehanna Valley.
“He was super nice,” Richard said. “We sat there and talked about Little League with him.”
A student at SusQ-Cyber Charter School, Richard is the daughter of Josh and Kristy Richard. She has three siblings, Jossie, 14, Kade, 9, and Ainsley, 5.
Kristy traveled to Washington, D.C., with her daughter and was impressed with the way she handled herself throughout the experience.
During Adriana’s testimony, Kristy was seated directly behind her, with a group of celebrities.
“I was proud of her,” Kristy said, of her daughter. “I could’ve never done that. She has found her love.”
Adriana noted that she will be closely following Casey’s proposed legislation and the funding for the Special Diabetes Program that she and other members of the Children’s Congress were advocating for.
As a result of her experience, Adriana believes she would one day enjoy working for the JDRF in Washington, D.C.
Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.