Photo courtesy Cathy Rigg
Enumclaw's Caity Rigg jokes with Congressman Dave Reichart during a recent trip to Washington, D.C.
by Caity Rigg
Special to The Courier-Herald
As you all know, I had just experienced an amazing week in our wonderful nation's capitol, Washington, D.C.
Where do I start? I was in history class, when my mom comes in the room along with my vice principal. Now, if this has ever happened to you - that's a very scary thought. And I'm wondering what had happened. As I glanced at the paper she was holding, I saw the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) logo. And if my mom had come to my class, out of work…I knew it was something special. I asked, " Did they find the cure?" Sadly, no. But the next best thing. That was the very day my mom read me the letter in front of my class that notified me that I was chosen to be a Washington state delegate for Children's Congress 2005, to be held in Washington, D.C.
In case you aren't aware of what this means, this is a program that JDRF puts together every other year in Washington, D.C. This is a chance for Congress to hear what children living with diabetes have to say. Not adults or scientists - because it's coming from the kids who actually experience it every day of their lives. And that's what matters.
When I first arrived in D.C., I felt amazing. It felt so good to know that I've been chosen. And I was one of four delegates from Washington state of nearly 1,000 applicants received!
The whole purpose of going to Washington, D.C., was for pursuing Congress so that whenever a vote came in that considers a cure or anything that would bring us close to that, they would vote "yes." Also, to raise more federal funding for JDRF.
While in D.C., we all did our part and talked to our start state senators and our representatives about how important it is to us kids, living with the disease itself, to find the cure. I spoke with my senators, Patty Murray and and Maria Cantwell, and my representative, Dave Reichart, doing the same thing. It all went very, very well.
Although there was a lot of hard work and devotion put into the whole week, I had a ton of fun as well. It's really awesome to have friends with diabetes 'cause they know what you're going through. And that way, you don't feel so alone. You know? Like you're the only one with diabetes in the world? You don't feel that way when you're around these amazing kids and awesome friends. Although I loved every person there, I made a couple very special friends that will always have a special place in my heart. Tyler, Jessie and Anna. The only problem was, Tyler lives in Indiana, Jessie lives in New York and Anna lives in Colorado. But I still keep in touch with them.
I was also selected to be the buddy to an international delegate from Israel, Maya Weiss. She attended all my congressional meetings with me and we talked about what it was like to live with diabetes in our different countries.
What was I going to do with all of the time that I had to myself? Of course, sight seeing. A couple of the amazing places I saw and went to included the Capitol, the White House, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Cathedral, the mall (which includes the Washington Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, the Reflection Pool and the newest addition, the World War II Memorial). And I even took a boat tour along the Potomac River and saw a load of really awesome sights from the water. What I thought was so cool, was at the Lincoln Memorial, in front of the Reflection Pool, was a group of people who walked in a circle carrying candles, who believed in world peace and held the "World Peace" flag proudly and I think that is a wonderful example!
One of the things that was a real heartbreaker that we did for Children's Congress was a very touching, moving scene. Picture this. All the children, standing on bleachers on the capitol lawn, singing a song in which the title is, "promise to remember meŠ" (This is also the theme of Children's Congress 2005). While I was standing up there, all I could see were moms, dads, senators, representatives and all sorts of Congress, crying. There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd that I could see.
Some of the more famous people who attended Children's Congress, included people like, Mary Tyler Moore (JDRF's chairman), Peter Vanetton (JDRF's president), Steve Wariner (award-winning country-singer, who also accompanied the song, "Promise to Remember MeŠ" with his guitar) and Gary Hall (an Olympic gold medalist diabetic).
I think Children's Congress is a wonderful experience for kids. 'Cause, like I said, that's when the kids open up to Congress and share their personal feelings. It's more meaningful to hear it from somebody who actually has it. Not a scientist or a doctor or a lawyer. But the people who live with it. Although, the person who does find the cure is my lifesaver, who I will look up to, and my hero.