JMS student advocates for diabetes research on Capitol Hill

A Jemtegaard Middle School sixth-grader recently returned from a diabetes research advocacy trip to Washington, D.C.

On April 7, Paige Maas met with legislative assistants to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Camas), and Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.

Maas has been living with Type 1 diabetes for five years, and is a Washington diabetes advocate for the American Diabetes Association.

Maas was among more than 100 diabetes advocates and professional football players who convened in Washington, D.C. for the American Diabetes Association’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day.

While in Washington, D.C., the association announced its new initiative, Team Tackle, which brings together professional football players with the ADA to raise awareness about diabetes and prediabetes.

“It made me feel special that the ADA chose me out of the 30 million people living with diabetes to fly to Washington, D.C. and advocate for them,” Maas said. “It was cool to walk around the congressional offices and meet with important people. I liked that I got to meet the professional football players. It is especially neat to see that these big guys that eat, sleep and breathe football also have a story to tell because they are all personally touched by diabetes.”

During a press conference on Capitol Hill, the association presented its petition with more than 79,000 signatures to U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan M. Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus.

The petition urges Congress to increase funding for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, fully support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Diabetes Translation, and provide more resources for the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program.

“Federal funding for research and treatment leads to clinical advances that can improve outcomes for people living with diabetes,” said Kevin L. Hagan, CEO of the ADA. “Local advocate Paige Maas provided a powerful perspective for their congressional leaders. Her story is essential in bringing to light the human impact of diabetes and that millions of lives benefit from advances in federal programs and research.”

Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 86 million Americans have prediabetes, which puts them at greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes advocates and Team Tackle members also participated in panel discussions at the White House in an event that examined the current state of diabetes prevention, research and treatment efforts.