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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Fighting for a change

Senior goes to Washington D.C. to speak to Congress
Janet Lech
Sitting in the Capitol Building, senior Brooklyn Lech speaks with Don Bacon’s representative. Lech traveled to Washington D.C. to speak on behalf of the JDRF. “I had to apply to be considered for the position,” Lech said. “I was the only girl chosen to represent Nebraska and the other two were brothers from Lincoln; Alex and Aiden Ourada.”

Millions of people in the U.S. have type one diabetes, senior Brooklyn Lech being one of them, after being diagnosed at age 11. Brooklyn Lech has learned to live with the diagnosis and has since strived to fight for people just like her. With that in mind, Brooklyn Lech applied to be a 2023 Children’s Congress Delegate. 

The Children’s Congress 2023 event was three days long and held by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in Washington D.C. After applying, Brooklyn Lech was one of the 160 chosen out of the 700 that applied to be a representative. In D.C., Brooklyn Lech’s role was to speak to the Nebraska senators and representatives at the Capitol building. 

“I spoke with Senators Deb Fischer, Pete Ricketts and Representative Don Bacon,” Brooklyn said. “I shared my story and told them about my life with type one diabetes. I also talked about insulin prices and the struggles with how expensive insulin is. I convinced them to also renew the bill for the Special Diabetes Program, which funds the research that allows for the creation of new devices that make the lives of diabetics a lot easier.”

Senior Brooklyn Lech sits in Pete Rickets office with Ourada brothers representing Nebraska (Janet Lech)

Brooklyn met with Congress on day three of the trip after speaking to a few celebrities with type one diabetes and discussing how their lives have been changed since. Brooklyn also attended a training that prepared them to speak to the Congress alongside the delegates she met from all over the country. Going into the event, Brooklyn didn’t know anyone there but by being outgoing made her a  perfect representative due to her passion and boldness to speak out about the subjects of insulin and type one diabetes.

“Children’s Congress impacts funding that is given to research diabetes to make advances and find a cure,” Brooklyn’s mother Janet Lech said. “Having this every two years helps inform people who vote on bills for funding about how challenging this disease is to manage and the importance of funding.  Children’s Congress delegates like Brooklyn also talked to them about the importance of affordable insulin because diabetics literally cannot live without insulin which most peoples’ bodies produce on their own.”

With insulin sometimes costing in the hundreds, Brooklyn made this one of her main focuses when conversing with Congress. Brooklyn’s strong personality and well-prepared speech made it hard for Congress not to listen and take her seriously. 

“Brooklyn is a kind, caring, hard-working, dedicated and determined person,” Janet Lech said. “She has had a lot of really difficult things come her way in her life and has persevered and overcome everything with a positive attitude and grace. From the day of diagnosis, I told her she was going to have to learn how to do everything because it is something that she will live with her entire life. She jumped right in and managed it better than a lot of people do because she cares about her health and wants to live as normal of a life as possible with this diagnosis.”

Due to her determination and ambition to campaign on behalf of type one diabetes, Brooklyn is still considered an advocate for JDRF. She will continue to raise awareness and raise money for this disease so that hopefully a cure can be found for type one diabetes. Since Brooklyn has been back from D.C., Brooklyn has had the opportunity to speak at two events for JDRF.

My wife and I supported her with anything she needed to be a good representative of Nebraska,” Brooklyn’s father Shane Lech said. “It was important for her to go because it made Congress aware of how many kids young and old are affected every year by Type 1 Diabetes. For Brooklyn to continue to educate others on what she has learned is huge in hopefully someday finding a cure.”

JDRF being in Washington D.C. and speaking to Congress affected many due to them hearing from many different kids of all different ages fighting for the same cause. It is important to always spread the word about this disease and share the importance of raising money for type one diabetes research. The overall goal is to find a cure for this disease, and going to D.C. allowed them to make steps closer to this goal.

“I was responsible for leading my meetings with the Congressmen and educating them about the importance of JDRF,” Brooklyn said. “It was really good to talk to them because I feel like our Nebraska Senators and Representatives that I met with were super understanding and really willing to help. I am grateful to have met with the people that I did because I know that some of the other delegates had to meet with people that were not as understanding and didn’t really want to help.”

Even though Type one diabetes is such a common chronic disease, some still don’t care to get educated. Which has yet to stop Brooklyn. 

From receiving a life-changing diagnosis to being the face of JDRF and explaining T1D to others in a way that they can try to understand a sliver of what it’s like to live with such a complex disease. For the next two years Brooklyn Lech will still be considered an advocate for JDRF but even beyond that, Brooklyn Lech will continue to speak out for people with Type one Diabetes.

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About the Contributor
Delaney Lueck
Delaney Lueck, Features Editor
Delaney is a senior and this is her first year on the CATalyst staff, but third year with journalism. In Yearbook, she has had a past role of Copy-Editor. Outside of journalism, Delaney enjoys taking pictures, spending time with friends, traveling, being with family, and being a part of the track team.

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