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Port Washington teen invited to juvenile diabetes conference in Washington

Ashley Randall, 17, of Port Washington, a New

Ashley Randall, 17, of Port Washington, a New York delegate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund's children's congress in DC, sits inside the Baltimore Design Center where she works in Port Washington, Friday, July 3, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

Ashley Randall will trade one Washington for another next week when the Port Washington resident heads to the nation's capital to represent Long Island at the 2015 JDRF Children's Congress.

Randall, 17, is the sole Long Islander among 10 New York delegates traveling to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's biennial conference July 13-15. The event includes three days of congressional meetings and educational outreach for Type 1 diabetes, a cause that has become a passion of Randall's since she was diagnosed at age 9.

"I wouldn't say it's difficult, but it definitely is an obstacle," Randall said of living with the condition, in which the pancreas stops producing insulin.

Randall has traveled to seven European countries and raised thousands of dollars for charity. She plays varsity soccer and lacrosse and runs varsity track at Paul D. Schreiber High School.

"It's been difficult but I've pushed through it," Randall said.

A national JDRF vetting committee selected Randall from a pool of applicants younger than age 18, said Joann Flick, development director for Long Island's JDRF chapter.

"She is an amazing young lady," Flick said, adding that the local chapter was not part of the selection. "It's a really difficult disease to live with."

Type 1 is one of the most common childhood diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 1.25 million Americans -- 200,000 under the age of 20 -- live with Type 1 diabetes.

Pam Randall didn't know what to think when her daughter began showing symptoms.

"Oh my God, it was a horror show. You're not really prepared for it," Pam Randall, 51, said. "We didn't know what was going on."

Ashley Randall handled the diagnosis well, her mother said, and is looking forward to meeting other children with Type 1 diabetes next week.

"I think if I take good care of myself now, in the future I will be OK," Ashley Randall said.

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