WASHINGTON — “People with Type 1 diabetes can do anything we set our minds to. We just have extra responsibilities.”
Those were the words of Adriana Richard, a 16 year old from Milton, as she testified Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.
Richard was one of 160 children — ages 5 to 17 — 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. 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.
During her testimony, Richard said she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 5.
“All I can remember about my diagnosis is that my parents were scared for me,” she said.
She has endured hardships throughout her childhood as a result of her diagnosis.
“In elementary school, I was sometimes teased because I was different or was always with the nurse,” she said.
Several years ago, Richard said she was hospitalized due to her diabetes.
“I was constantly battling diabetes… I was physically and emotionally exhausted,” Richard testified. “Thankfully, I have been able to better manage my Type 1 diabetes over the past year.”
When asked by Casey about some of the most common questions she’s been asked about diabetes, Richard said there’s a misconception that it’s caused by eating too much sugar.
“That’s not true at all,” she said. “It’s an autoimmune disease. It’s not caused by eating too much sugar or from being overweight.”
Richard also told the committee that it’s important to continue funding diabetes research.
“We are so close to finding a cure for diabetes,” she said. “If we stop research now, we will never find it.”
Richard is the daughter of Josh and Kristy Richard. She has three siblings, Jossie, 14, Kade, 9, and Ainsley, 5.
She recently completed her junior year through SusQ-Cyber Charter School.
Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671.