JDRF Announces Participants for Town Hall Panel at Children’s Congress

Panel to feature celebrity role models for children with type 1 diabetes

WASHINGTON, DC, June 16, 2009 - The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), has announced its lineup for the 2009 Children’s Congress Town Hall panel, “Role Models in Diabetes.” The Town Hall will give the opportunity for 150 children with type 1 diabetes to interact with diverse professionals- from athletes to musicians to doctors also living with type 1 diabetes – and share their experiences on how they’re managing the disease and fulfilling professional careers at the same time. The event will take place on Tuesday, June 22, at 9:15 a.m. in the J.W. Marriott Hotel, located on 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

The Town Hall panelists will include NFL player Jared Allen; professional concert cellist Alisa Weilerstein; Miss Black USA 2007 Kalilah Allen-Harris, and Dr. Aaron Kowalski, JDRF’s Research Director for the Artificial Pancreas Project. ESPN broadcaster Brian Kenny will moderate the forum, and JDRF International Chairman Mary Tyler Moore will greet the audience. The children are delegates for JDRF’s Children’s Congress, one of the most powerful advocacy events in Capitol Hill, and takes place on June 22-24, 2009.

“We’re very excited about this year’s Town Hall panel,” said Cynthia Ford, ChairMom of Children’s Congress 2009. “These role models bring a richness from their background that is very inspiring. Each person has had to overcome difficult challenges and has since then been dedicated to helping others overcome those challenges. Our hope is that the delegates and their families will come away from this discussion with hope and optimism for their future.”

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein is an internationally recognized musician and one of our newest Celebrity Advocates. Diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes when she was nine years old, Weilerstein, now 26, has become a much sought-after soloist and recitalist, performing concerts around the world. She maintains a busy schedule while managing her diabetes all day, every day and does not curtail her ambition because of it. Weilerstein will be a role- model panelist at Town Hall.

Crowned Miss Black USA in 2007, Kalilah Allen-Harris is passionate and outspoken on the issue of diabetes awareness and management. Diagnosed at the age of 14, Allen, now 24 years old, knows the challenges that diabetes creates for the millions of people living with this disease. She has made Congressional visits asking for federal funding for diabetes research, and appeared in as a role model in JDRF’s “You Can’t Catch Diabetes From a Friend” outreach video. Allen will be a role -model panelist at Town Hall.

Jared Allen is the defensive end for the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings. He became involved with JDRF when he read a letter from a young fan with type 1 diabetes who wrote about the struggles of living day-to-day with the disease. Allen then decided to do whatever he could to lift the weight of the world off this boy’s shoulders to help him fulfill his dreams and started working with JDRF . He raises funds for the Foundation through his “Sack Diabetes” program, and his Walk team “Jared Allen’s Marching Mullets”. Allen will be a role-model panelist at Town Hall.

Aaron Kowalski, PhD, is the JDRF Program Director for Metabolic Control and the Research Director of the JDRF Artificial Pancreas Project, focusing upon “closing the loop” and diabetes technologies that will improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Kowalski joined the JDRF research staff as a Scientific Program Manager working in the area of diabetic complications. At the age of three, Kowalski’s brother Stephen was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and in 1984, at the age of thirteen, he, too, was diagnosed with Type 1. It is their collective experiences over the past 30+ years that provide the daily motivation to fight for a cure. Kowalski will be a role-model panelist for Town Hall.

JDRF’s Children’s Congress, has been held every other year since 1999. The delegates - ranging in age from 4 to 17 - represent all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and six international delegates from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Greece and the United Kingdom. Each child has type 1 diabetes and will talk about the personal impact the disease has made on their bodies and their lives and urge lawmakers to help find a cure.