Hundreds of people are fighting for type 1 diabetes research funding in Washington, D.C. today until July 10, including several celebrities who have the disease. Actor Victor Garber, basketball player Anthony Green and American Ninja Warrior Christina Martin are among the famous faces attending the 2019 Children’s Congress.
To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter!
They are all urging Congress to renew funding for the Special Diabetes Program, which provides $150 million annually for type 1 diabetes research, for another five years. Learn more about these celebrity advocates below.
For more information on the Children’s Congress, click here.
Victor Garber – Actor
Originally from London, Ontario, Victor Garber boasts six Emmy and four Tony nominations.
Victor Garber has co-starred in numerous features including the Academy Award-winning films, Argo, Self/less, Sicario and Titanic. He has also been featured in the Academy Award–nominated film Milk as well as The First Wives Club, Sleepless in Seattle and Legally Blonde. His Emmy nominations include three for the ABC drama Alias, two for comedic guest-star roles on Frasier and Will & Grace, and a nomination for Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows. His Tony nominations are for his work in Damn Yankees, Lend Me a Tenor, Deathtrap and Little Me.
He currently recurs on Starz’ Power, FOX’s The Orville and CW’s The Flash. Victor will next be seen in the upcoming feature film, Dry Run, directed by Todd Haines.
Garber was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 12 years old. He serves as an ambassador for Beyond Type 1, sharing his platform to raise awareness and advocate for the type 1 diabetes community.
Isaiah Stanback – Football
Isaiah Stanback’s athleticism and passion for sports developed at an early age. By the time he reached high school, he excelled in varsity track, football, basketball and baseball, eventually earning letters in all four sports and a full scholarship to the University of Washington where he earned a degree in American Ethnic Studies. Isaiah entered the 2007 draft and was selected in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys, where he played for two years before moving on to the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. In 2011, he joined the New York Giants, with whom he earned a Super Bowl ring. He later joined the Jacksonville Jaguars before retiring in 2013.
Outside of football, Isaiah earned his MBA at George Washington University School of Business. He is now the co-owner and trainer at Steadfast Fitness and Performance, a personal training and performance facility in Coppell, Texas.
Isaiah is a motivational speaker, philanthropist and advocate who supports numerous efforts for youth empowerment and social justice, having been featured on CNBC, Entrepreneurship and Forbes magazines. He is also a champion for the type 1 diabetes community. His daughter Nadia, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a 3 year old. Since her diagnosis, he has vowed to use his platform to raise awareness and funding for type 1 diabetes research to find better treatments and a cure for Nadia and the T1D community.
Christina Martin – Professional Dancer, Motivational Speaker, American Ninja Warrior
Christina Martin lives to dance and jump off obstacles all in the name of diabetes support. She is a professional dancer, fitness trainer for kids and adults and founder of a non-profit organization for diabetes that she started as a teenager, Type Zero Foundation. Christina dances with nationally winning hip hop crew, TheSQUAD and has competed against the rest of the world while living with type 1 diabetes.
She was invited on Season 11 of NBC’s TV show, American Ninja Warrior, where she competed as the first female with type 1 diabetes on the show.
She studies sport and exercise science as a full-time student at the University of Central Florida. Her goal is to help individuals and families feel stronger with diabetes.
Martin took time to answer some questions before heading to the 2019 Children’s Congress
Can you share why it is important for you to be a part of Children’s Congress?
When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I didn’t know if I had in me what it truly took to manage this disease and obtain my vision of success. And until about one year ago at 22 years old, I still didn’t know the answer. It would have been amazing to have someone there next to me who didn’t just have knowledge about diabetes, but had understanding, hope, and a path they were proud to be creating while living with type 1 diabetes. I am honored to be a part of Children’s Congress because while I cannot look 13-year-old me in the eye and tell her she does have it in her to be better than she could ever dream, I have the ability to do that for others. All while helping to strengthen our diabetes community and support system which is the ultimate goal!
How did you feel when you were first diagnosed?
To me, I was alone and different as the only person in the world with this disease. One in which doctors told me, eye-to-eye, would kill me if I didn’t take care of it. Not yet knowing how to take care of it and having a perceived lack of control over my body, I begged the hospital to stay a day longer than what was scheduled. For the first time, after always being a child that embraced adventures in life without hesitation, I had an overwhelming fear of failure.
What do you use in your type 1 diabetes management regimen?
For a year, I have been a proud wearer of the Medtronic 670G insulin pump and CGM system. A new addition has also been what I call mindful eating; eating around the same time each day, meal prepping some meals, analyzing how foods affect my blood sugar no matter what I’m eating, and enjoying my favorite sweets (probably more than I should!).
The most important part of my diabetes management however, is actually in keeping my gratitude journal. Every night, I write down three things that I am thankful for that day and over time, it has taught me to look fear in the eye and remember that it will pass, find positivity even in the worst situations where it seems that there isn’t any, and be more present in the moment with my diabetes and life in general.
Ryan Reed – NASCAR Driver
Ryan Reed’s racing career began at a young age, capturing championship recognitions by the time he was 8. At the age of 17, he moved from Bakersfield, California, to North Carolina for his racing career.
In 2011, Ryan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and told that he would never race again. Instead of giving up, he sought guidance from a diabetes medical team who assured him that with hard work, he could continue to live out his dreams. He implemented lifestyle changes, including a nutritional plan, exercise and devices that provide on-track data to his medical team.
In 2014, he became a full- time NASCAR XFINITY Driver with Roush Fenway Racing, boasting two wins, seven top five finishes and 27 top 10 finishes throughout his career. To date, he is the first and only NASCAR driver living with type 1 diabetes to run a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. In addition to racing, Ryan is passionate about driving awareness and supporting the diabetes community through his foundation, “Ryan’s Mission.”
Reed took time to answer some questions before heading to the 2019 Children’s Congress
Can you share why it is so important for you to be a part of Children’s Congress?
It’s one of the best opportunities to give a voice on a big stage to the type 1 diabetes community!
How did you feel when you were first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?
Scared and uncertain. After being told I have a lifelong disease and that disease would eliminate my dreams of being a racecar driver, I didn’t know where to turn or what to do.
What are you currently using in your type 1 diabetes management regimen (If there are any new products within the past 2 months)?
I’ve always stayed on pens for my insulin delivery. Mainly because it’s so hot in the racecar.
Children’s Congress brings together more than 150 children (the delegates) from across the U.S. and abroad and prominent individuals with a personal connection to type 1 diabetes. What are the key messages that you hope for the children to takeaway from the conference?
One of my main goals has been to help influence all with type 1 diabetes that they can do anything despite diabetes. I think there are many ways at Children’s Congress that can continue to drive that home.
Children’s Congress aims to drive awareness for type 1 diabetes and appeal to U.S. Congressional leaders for continued funding through the Special Diabetes Program. Can you share why this renewal is so important to you and how advancements in type 1 diabetes technology and treatments have impacted your life?
It’s everything to those of us living with diabetes. The advancements I’ve seen over the last eight years of me living with type 1 diabetes have been truly life-changing. Without them, I would never have been able to race and win in NASCAR as well as live the active and busy lifestyle away from the track.
Adam Schefter – Sports Broadcaster
Adam Schefter has covered the NFL since 1990 and is regarded as one of the top sports reporters in the industry, especially for breaking news. As an NFL analyst for ESPN, he appears on “NFL Live,” “Sunday NFL Countdown,” “Monday Night Countdown” and “SportsCenter.” He also hosts an ESPN podcast and contributes to ESPN.com and ESPN Radio. Adam Schefter has been featured in Sports Illustrated’s Power 40+, and ranked number 13 on their Most Powerful People in Sports Media list. In 2014, SI’s NFL site, The
MMQB, named him “Media Person of the Year.” His influence also extends to Twitter, where he has more than 7 million followers.
Adam has authored five books, his latest is, The Man I Never Met: A Memoir. His other titles include the New York Times’ bestseller, Romo: My Life on the Edge Living Dreams and Slaying Dragons and The Class of Football: Words of Hard-Earned Wisdom from Legends of the Gridiron.
Adam’s wife, Sharri, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. They have been actively involved with JDRF for several years, making it their mission to raise awareness and funds for type 1 diabetes research. Adam has served as a JDRF Ambassador since 2016.
Jennifer Stone – Actress
Born in Texas, Jennifer Stone fell in love with acting at 6 years old. After working in local commercials, television and film, she moved to Los Angeles to broaden her horizons. At the age of 13, she booked her most notable role, Harper on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place, which earned her two nominations for a Young Artist Award in 2008 and a Kid’s Choice Award in 2012.
At the age of 20, Jennifer was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Today, as she continues to pursue her acting career, she’s also working towards a bachelor’s degree. She began studying psychology before changing her major to nursing so that she can help others living with type 1 diabetes and become a diabetes educator. In addition to acting and school, Jennifer is sharing her platform to raise awareness and serves as an ambassador for Beyond Type 1.
Derek Theler – Actor
Derek Theler began his acting career in 2009. Since then, he has appeared in several television series, including a starring role in the long-running Freeform comedy Baby Daddy, Starz’ American Gods and the YouTube Red dark comedy, Wayne.
Derek was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 3 years old. However, he has never allowed type 1 diabetes to keep him from pursuing his passion. He wears his Dexcom continuous glucose monitor on the set with pride and seizes every opportunity to help raise awareness for type 1 diabetes.
Fiona Wylde – Professional Stand-Up Paddler and Windsurfer
Fiona Wylde is one of the most decorated athletes in the sport of stand up paddling. She competes at the highest level in both stand up paddling racing and surfing. Growing up in Hood River, Oregon, and Los Barriles, Mexico, Fiona began windsurf racing at age 11, kitesurfing at age 12 and stand-up paddle boarding at the age of 13. Today, she travels around the world competing on the APP World Tour and has won an overall APP World Championship title in 2017. She has also won the Columbia Paddle Challenge downwind race for the past two years.
Fiona was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on her high school graduation day, at the age of 18. However, she refuses to allow type 1 diabetes to interfere with her dreams. Ranking in the top five in the U.S., she balances travel, training and competing, while managing her type 1 diabetes. She is also dedicated to type 1 diabetes education and inspiring adults and children with the disease to live a healthy, full life.
Lauren Cox – Baylor University Women’s Basketball Player
The daughter of former basketball players, Lauren Cox’s skills and love for the game came naturally when she started playing in kindergarten. Now as a 6 foot 4 inch power forward at Baylor University, she has earned the ultimate collegiate achievement, winning the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. Ranked by ESPN as the “Top Recruit” in the country, Lauren selected Baylor over UConn, Notre Dame and Tennessee. Her recent accomplishments include the 2019 NCAA Elite 90 Co-Award Winner, 2018 and 2019 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and four USA Basketball gold medals.
Lauren was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 7 years old. She recalls feeling isolated and reluctant to talk about her diagnosis until she connected with other type 1 diabetes children and families at a JDRF One Walk. Her experiences growing up with type 1 diabetes and the determination to thrive in the face of the disease have fueled her passion for raising awareness and inspiring other children to live out their dreams.
April Blackwell – NASA
April Blackwell is an Aerospace Engineer and life-long astronaut hopeful who flies the International Space Station from NASA Mission Control. April has worked at NASA for six years, but has been obsessed with space since kindergarten—when she made up her mind to become an astronaut. A diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at age 11 seemed like an insurmountable roadblock—type 1 diabetes is an automatic disqualification on the astronaut application. But instead of giving up she doubled down—learning Russian in high school, studying hard in math, and receiving a full ride scholarship to attain an Aerospace Engineering degree. In her aerospace career, April has flown more than 250 hours in experimental Army aircraft and passed qualifications in the Army Special Operations helicopter dunker program, altitude chamber and parachute course—all of which normally preclude type 1 diabetes participants. Since NASA flight controller certification, she has acquired almost 2,000 console hours in Mission Control. April hasn’t given up on her ultimate dream of becoming an astronaut, but she has added an extra challenge—to be the first person with type 1 diabetes in space.
Mitch Tulachka – Monster Truck Driver
Mitch Tulachka, owner of MK Motorsports and the driver of ‘Just GET-ER-DONE’ monster truck, has raced around North and South America. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 23 years old. His twin brother and older brother were also diagnosed at young ages. He recalls how his brothers faced challenges as teenagers because their teachers and classmates were not educated about type 1 diabetes and the daily burdens associated with the disease. In 2004, Mitch was introduced to an insulin pump, which helped him manage his type 1 diabetes easier. He later convinced his brothers to use the technology.
Mitch and his brothers fell in love with monster trucks when they attended a show in Las Vegas about 15 years ago, leading them to build one of their own. Through monster truck tours, they’ve enjoyed connecting with T1D families and sharing the message that with advancements in technology and better treatments, you can overcome the challenges of the disease and live out your dreams.