A Hauppauge teen with Type 1 diabetes was selected to represent New York State at a national convention supporting diabetes research.
Daniel Panaro, 15, will head to Washington, D.C., July 24 to attend the three-day JDRF Children’s Congress to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes and speak with members of Congress about advancing research for the disease.
More than 1,500 children ages 4-17 with Type 1 diabetes applied to be a part of the convention, and only 160 were chosen, according to Betsy Paffmann, a spokeswoman for JDRF’s Long Island chapter. Panaro is one of 10 delegates representing New York State and the only one from Long Island, Paffmann said.
Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“When I was first diagnosed, they told me a cure was right around the corner,” Panaro said. “It’s important for me to help turn that corner and know that I was a part of helping to find that cure.”
Panaro was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in March 2015, just months after his father, John Panaro, died of cancer.
“It took a while for us to find our footing, especially as a single parent,” Panaro’s mother, Gail Panaro, said. “In the beginning we were waking up every three hours to test his blood sugar, so we were both sleep deprived.”
After a few months, Panaro learned how to test his own blood sugar and monitor his diet. That’s when he began advocating for awareness and raising money for research, he said.
Since then, he has raised about $15,000 in donations for JDRF, a global organization that backs Type 1 diabetes research, Panaro said.
At the conference, Panaro is scheduled to meet with Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and other members of Congress to talk about life with Type 1 diabetes, Paffmann said.
Panaro said he’s excited to meet other children with Type 1 diabetes and to take a proactive role in helping to find a cure.
“I want other kids to know that this isn’t something that you can let slow you down,” he said. “It doesn’t control you; you control it.”