Famed football coach Vince Lombardi summed up the recipe for victory when he said “people who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.”
I take these words seriously because tackling diabetes requires a team of people banded together with grit and gumption—people who stay focused on the endgame while making the most of each opportunity to gain ground right now.
Today is the American Diabetes Association’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, a time when Diabetes Advocates from across the country gather in Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to make diabetes a priority and invest in diabetes research and prevention. At our press conference on Capitol Hill this morning, I had the privilege of announcing a new team that is now a part of the American Diabetes Association family. Team Tackle unites the Association with 45 current and former professional football players and top draft picks—representing all 32 professional football teams—to draw attention to diabetes and prediabetes.
During the press conference, Dr. Maggie Powers, the Association’s President of Health Care and Education, and I had the opportunity to deliver the Association’s 2016 Stop Diabetes petition—with more than 79,000 signatures—and our asks for federal funding for diabetes research and programs to Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Susan M. Collins.
The event also shared the important message that diabetes touches everyone in our country, featuring stories from Team Tackle members Dont’a Hightower (New England), Mike Golic (sports commentator and retired player) and Lorenzo Alexander (free agent). Association volunteers and advocates Gina Gavlak, National Advocacy Committee Chair; Michelle Foster, member of the National Advocacy Committee; Anastasia Albanese -O’Neil, a member of the Association’s Advocacy Committee; and Aiden Dine, an 11-year-old diabetes advocate who has type 1 diabetes, were present to share their personal stories as well.
But we aren’t stopping there. Team Tackle members, Association leadership and advocates are now heading to meetings with members of Congress to discuss the importance of federal support for diabetes research and programs.
Later this afternoon, the Association and Team Tackle will also participate in panel discussions at the White House as part of an event that will examine the current state of diabetes prevention, research and treatment efforts. Team Tackle speakers will include Rashad Jennings (New York), Aaron Murray (Kansas City) and Sam Acho (Chicago). The event will be livestreamed from 2:00-4:30 p.m. EDT on the White House website at WhiteHouse.gov/live.
We’re excited about today’s kickoff for Team Tackle, but it is simply the beginning. Starting today, Team Tackle is asking you to support children with diabetes in gaining the skills and confidence they need to manage their diabetes by sending them to camp.
This isn’t your typical summer camp—these are American Diabetes Association® Diabetes Camps. They offer a safe, fun place for kids with diabetes to participate in traditional camp activities while learning healthy habits—nutrition, fitness and diabetes management skills—and creating lifelong friendships. American Diabetes Association camps welcome children with type 1 diabetes and those who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Health care professionals oversee daily diabetes care and help campers learn to live successfully with their disease. Through teachable moments, campers develop self-confidence and learn to become more independent.
You can find more information about becoming a Camp Champion by visiting diabetes.org/CampChampion.
Thank you for your support. As Team Tackle’s tagline says—we’re together for the win when it comes to tackling diabetes!
Kevin L. Hagan
Chief Executive Officer
American Diabetes Association