By Sara Hayden.
Between writing letters to lawmakers and preparing for a speech to present at Levi Stadium, Chase Urban has been busy. But not so busy that he can’t find time to play basketball, dedicate himself to his sixth-grade studies at Sea Crest School and hang out with his two cats.
This is all in a day’s work as the 12-year-old rallies awareness about Type 1 diabetes. Next stop: Capitol Hill, where he intends to solicit support from Congress.
“I really want to change the world,” Urban said. “I really want to get (Type 1) diabetes out there and tell more people about it and educate people about what diabetes is and that we need to find a cure for it.”
About 1.25 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease for which there is presently no prevention or cure. At its onset, the pancreas stops producing insulin — a necessary hormone that helps the body derive energy from food.
Without it, people living with Type 1 diabetes must carefully balance activity and eating, around the clock, as well as monitor blood sugar levels and inject or infuse insulin with a pump, which can be expensive. If blood sugar levels aren’t managed, it can cause long-term complications for nerve, kidney, eye and cardiovascular health.
The majority of people with Type 1 diabetes are adults, and minors represent 16 percent. Urban will join more than 150 other children from all 50 states in Washington, D.C., to draw attention to the importance of eradicating the condition.
“The U.S. government funds research for Type 1 diabetes,” Urban said. “We want them to continue doing that so hopefully we can get a cure someday.”
That’s the ultimate goal. Technological advancements in managing the disease are important objectives in the meantime. In 2013, Urban participated in a clinical trial for an artificial pancreas from Stanford University as well as a new sensor that monitors blood sugar levels. He says these advancements make it easier to do the things he loves.
The Children’s Congress trip is supported by JDRF, an organization dedicated to funding research for Type 1 diabetes, a disease that annually incurs $14 billion in health care costs nationwide.
Advocacy feels ever more urgent as the passage of the American Healthcare Act earlier this month leaves people with pre-existing conditions, including Type 1 diabetes, vulnerable to increased insurance costs.
“These children and their parents face the burden of Type 1 diabetes every day, and, by sharing their stories, they become the most powerful advocates we have in fighting Type 1 diabetes,” JDRF President and CEO Derek Rapp said in a statement.
Urban said he was first inspired to get involved with JDRF the day after he was diagnosed when he turned on the TV. There was a broadcast of the JDRF One fundraising walk, and Urban found his calling, getting his family and others from Half Moon Bay onboard to participate.
Over the years, dozens of Chase’s Champions have collectively raised more than $100,000. They intend to do it again this fall.
“We’re totally going to be walking,” Urban said.
“It’s Chase’s favorite day of the year,” his mother, Jenny, confirmed. “We’ll be doing it for a long time.”
“I’ll find a way to get there in college,” Urban added.
Urban has also gone on to be a junior spokesman for JDRF. He’ll be giving his 10th speech on May 31 at Levi Stadium to address the people of Silicon Valley about Type 1 diabetes.
“We have this thing around the office — ‘Chase for president,’” Shelly Jensen, a member of JDRF’s marketing and communications team, said. “He’s an incredible young man … He’s taken it to heart that he is raising awareness for our community.”