United We Stand a Chance
By Tom Karlya
September 2005 — I think it is about time every diabetes organization in existence sits down at the table and talks about a commonality among all of them and not why their differences make them better, bigger, the best. The one and only place where I need to spend my time. I feel that although some treatments are better, what concerns me most is that since my daughter was diagnosed I honestly do not believe we are any closer today than we were on September 26, 1992 – Kaitlyn's fateful day – to making her ‘not' have diabetes. Don't get me wrong. Many great things have happened, but are we REALLY any closer to my child, your child, or maybe even you having something, taking something, or getting something that will reverse diabetes? Really?
Weren't we just told that diabetes has increased from just about 18 million Americans to 21 million Americans — a 14% increase in 3 years? [EDITOR'S NOTE: As of 2008, 23.6 million American had diabetes.] I was always taught that if you keep doing the same thing expecting different results you're wasting your time. Do I have your attention yet? My friend, and the best of the best when it comes to diabetes fund raising, Mr. Robert Pearlman of the DRI in Miami, has a very simple philosophy. He says, "You know why they rob banks? Because that's where the money is." And he's right. Here's my point. I understand all of the philosophical differences among all of the groups, but I believe if you want real results on a common ground, go to Washington, D.C., ‘where the real money is'. Stop participating in these half-baked pseudo-public relations opportunities and combine all diabetes organizations for a once-a-year assault on Capitol Hill. Let's do that in 2007. Once a year, every year for two days.
Day one: Committee meetings; testifying; release a Capitol Hill Report Card making those in power accountable to the diabetes community numbering over 80 million (counting family members and health professionals); meet with the diabetes caucus and charge them with initiatives that are important. The diabetes caucus is one of the largest (perhaps THE largest) caucuses on the Hill yet their voice has not amounted to anything more than a peep when it should be a roar. More meetings into the night; researchers and congressional leaders in an open forum on what they think is important; dinners; more meetings.
Day two: The March on Washington. Imagine every organization across America involved: The ADA; Barbara Davis Center; CWD; City of Hope; DRI; JDRF; Joslin; Diabetes Wellness and on and on and on, marching for A Diabetesless Nation. Kids, leaders, a quilt, moms, dads, docs, and every group in America — one voice that is very loud and very clear. Make sure every organization is given something important to do over the two-day period. When over half a million people show up in Washington, trust me, the leaders will beg to be asked to speak rather than be begged to attend. On the night of the final evening, THE Washington Event of the year takes place. Want media attention? Create a black tie star-studded event where every dime will go to the coalition's efforts in Washington, because for now, that is where the money is.
People don't respond to a ripple in the water, they respond to a tidal wave. People didn't fear a bunch of sail boats but they shook where they stood when the Intrepid was parked off shore. It wasn't a bunch of monkeys; it was King Kong that frightened New York City. I know I'll have the backing of dLife on this. The gauntlet is laid. Any takers? When are you available for a conference call? I'm a diabetes dad.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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