Shedding light on the diabetes through speeches
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All eyes fixated on the figure who spoke with spirit and conviction. At the age of 11, sophomore Cullen Darius first shared his lifelong fight against type 1 diabetes with prestigious senators and congressmen. Through the American Diabetes Association (ADA), Darius has garnered government support for combating diabetes.
“I give speech[es] about my experiences growing up with diabetes and ask for support on different bills that Congress will vote on related to diabetes,” Darius said.
Darius attended Call to Congress on April 7-9 to petition for $2,165 billion for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), $170 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) division of diabetes and $25 million for the National Diabetes Prevention Program.
“Many members of Congress don’t know what it is to live with diabetes, but they have to make decisions about funding for research and support,” Darius said. “It is fun running around the Capitol sharing our diabetes stories, and I have learned about the way advocacy plays a role in forming new laws and government spending.”
Darius began his involvement with the ADA when he attended a diabetes camp as an eight-year-old. Soon, he caught the eye of the corporate office directors.
“[Cullen] was a dynamic young man and so willing to help out,” market executive director Patricia Simon said. “He spoke at our Walk to Stop Diabetes to thank sponsors. It exploded from there. He now speaks at just about all of our events and a few years back applied to be a youth advocate.”
From his first speech for the ADA at the annual Step Out Walk Darius continued his involvement as a youth advocate of California. He has spoken at National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) events, fundraised for the ADA through philanthropy dinners and has regularly communicated with senators through the Call for Congress event hosted at Capitol Hill.
“He has developed from the young kid thanking supporters to actually creating youth programs to support the efforts of the American Diabetes Association,” Cullen’s mother Janelle Darius said.
Taking the initiative, Cullen Darius has also founded the Youth Community Board to expand volunteer youth activities in the diabetic community.
“He tirelessly volunteers for the American Diabetes Association,” Simon said. “He impressively manages living with the challenges of diabetes. It is truly a privilege to be associated with this remarkable, mature up-and-coming future leader in our community.”