Even Toastmasters International would be inspired by 11-year-old Claire Haslett’s presentation skills.
She’s been on the speaker’s circuit since April discussing her life with Type 1 diabetes. Claire is among the 163 delegates chosen to the 2015 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Children’s Congress. The group advocates for people living with Type 1 diabetes, their friends and families.
More than 1,700 applied for the positions. Claire serves through 2017.
In July, the young delegates went to Washington, D.C., and testified before the U.S. Special Committee on Aging, chaired by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Six delegates described their lives with diabetes and advocated the need for Congress to approve Medicare coverage for continuous glucose monitors.
Claire attends Los Osos Middle School and plans to be an endocrinologist. Featured on www.cc.jdrf.org, Claire stated “(Type 1 diabetes) has always been part of my life,” but with technological advances including using an insulin pump since 2012 “my life (is) so much easier.”
While vacationing in San Diego when she was 5, she recalled, “I constantly drank water and had to go to the bathroom.”
A trip to the doctor confirmed her pancreas was not producing insulin. After four days in Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. Mimi Kim set up her first of a lifetime of daily regimens for treating T1D.
Claire tests regularly, including waking at night to prick her skin to monitor blood levels. She must constantly watch her diet and carries a rescue kit of juices, granola and glucose tablets to balance high or low blood sugar levels.
Claire is keenly aware that every eight seconds someone dies of diabetes, but she’s confident the monitoring tools will help her stay healthy and live fully while research advances continue to improve her lifestyle. She’s raised $4,500 for research and has high hopes for the FDA’s current trials in beta-cell replacement therapy.
What has Claire learned?
Most people don’t understand the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. She must take insulin shots to energize a dysfunctional pancreas. Type 2 can often be regulated — even cured — by diet and weight loss.
At JDRF’s Children’s Congress, she met lifelong friends who share common health needs. She also learned that the three-day visit to Washington, D.C., was not long enough.
“Capitol Hill and Martin Luther King’s Memorial were so big,” she said.
But, she said, the Lincoln Memorial was her favorite.
Claire has committed to making a difference by telling her story to decision-makers such as U.S. Rep. Lois Capps and community groups. Her presentation to Morro Bay Rotary was her 15th. If you want to invite Claire to speak to your group, email her and her grandmother, Cecelia Deines, who always accompanies her, at email@example.com.