Teens with type 1 diabetes head to Washington D.C. to help find a cure

Teens with type 1 diabetes head to Washington D.C. to help find a cure

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Two Texoma teens are packing for a summer trip to Washington D.C. They are going so they can spread awareness of type 1 diabetes.

The girls want to renew a government project that is dedicated to diabetes research.

The Special Diabetes Program (SDP) expires September 2017. The girls do not want it to go away. It costs more than $270 billion to fund.

Both Emma Barker and Claire Jones were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10.

Emma and Claire are two of 260 Children's Congress members that will go to the nation's capital.

"Hopefully one day, we can turn type 1 to type none," Emma said laughing.

Emma's father is also diagnosed with the condition.

"That was a lot to put on a 10-year-old but I knew she was strong willed," Randall Barker said. "I knew she would be able to handle it."

Claire was diagnosed around Christmas time by a doctor who just happened to be her father.

"I got super sick and lost a bunch of weight," Claire said. "My dad was like 'it might not be something this big but I think you might have diabetes.'"

Unlike Emma, Claire is the only one in her family to be diagnosed with the condition.

"Honestly, it was the worst day of my life," Kristi Jones, Claire's mother, said.

Kristi said she did not know what type 1 diabetes was at the time. It is a condition where the immune system attacks beta cells in the pancreas.

They are the cells that produce insulin. Diabetics have to manually monitor their blood sugar levels.

"Sometimes, I will be in public and I would always be like nervous to take a shot or something because what would people think?" Emma said.

The girls use glucose sensors, Dexcom G5 (which is a glucose monitoring system), and apps. If the blood sugar is too high, the patient can go into a coma which may lead to blindness.

If it is too low, it can result in seizures and possibly death.

"I have gotten used to a lot of stares in public seeing my tubing (...) on my body," Claire said.

Kristi said being strong, as a mother, comes with the territory but she did not expect Claire to be so courageous.

"To see your daughter have a strength 100 times that, it's incredible."

Both parents said it will be inspiring to see their girls speak at the nation's capital to help young diabetics like themselves.

"I cannot even put it into words," Randall said.

"That will probably be one of the best days in my life," Kristi said.

The girls will arrive in Washington D.C. on July 24. Both girls said they are working in the medical field when they get older.

They said it would be natural after being surround by doctors for so long.

You can follow the girls' journey to the nation's capital on the Newschannel6 app. You can download it for free on your app store.

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