Naples 9-year-old to speak to Congress about Type 1 diabetes

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A Naples girl is using her voice to make lawmakers in Washington pay attention to diabetes in children.

Nine-year-old Leah Shwedel is on a mission to change the world. At age 5, Shwedel was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes.

Her immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. She relies on four insulin shots daily.

Leah helps with the local Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to spread awareness.
Now she’s headed to D.C. to share her message.

“One [message] says ‘Diabetes, we’re gonna kick your butt,'” Leah said, showing off a sign she made. “One says, ‘Congress will never be the same.'”

Shwedel’s taking that spunk to Washington to represent the JDRF through their Children’s Congress.

She and 160 other kids with Type 1 diabetes will get to meet with top decision-makers in the government and share their stories battling the disease, how expensive it is and what they want done.

Her mother Jessica Shwedel is as proud as you’d imagine.

“She’ll ask me at times why it happened. The only thing I can come up with is she’s going to do something incredible with it one day, and we feel like this is just the beginning,” Shwedel said.

Leah Shwedel holding up her Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation T-shirt. Photo Credit: WINK

Leah’s sharing her journey on Facebook.

Patients with Type 1 diabetes experience immune system attacks that destroy the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Researchers still don’t know why people get this disease, but they have determined it does not have to do with diet.

Leah’s been practicing what she’ll say to Congress.

“I mean, I’d definitely love to cure it as soon as possible, because the quicker this disease gets out of my life, the quicker I can have some better days,” Leah said.

More than 700 children tried out for Children’s Congress by writing a letter about their experience. Leah leaves for D.C. on Thursday.

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