Kimberly Koppenhaver is a newly minted congressional delegate—which is pretty amazing for an 11 year-old. Kimberly (nicknamed Kim or Kimmy) is the daughter of TDS employees Robin and Kevin Koppenhaver, and will be representing Wisconsin at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Children’s Congress July 8-10, 2013.
More than 1,500 children, ranging in age from 4-17, applied to be advocates at this year’s Children’s Congress. Kim is one of only 150 children selected to go to Washington D.C. to represent JDRF this year. The children will meet individually with members of the U.S. Congress and together attend a Senate hearing. By sharing their stories of living with type 1 diabetes, they will put real faces on the need for research funding.
The application for Children’s Congress is not a small undertaking. Robin said, “It took Kim two weeks to complete the four required essays. She did all of the application herself—they were her words, from her heart.” Kim had applied previously, but was not selected. Kim and her parents are thrilled she will be able to attend this year.
Kimmy, like the other delegates, has a powerful story to share with lawmakers about living with diabetes. She was diagnosed at age 3 and since then has checked her blood sugar approximately 26,000 times (about 10 times a day). Robin and Kevin generally get up several times a night to check Kim’s blood sugar (Kim has learned to sleep through this). Kim also uses an insulin pump which requires a needle to be inserted under her skin at all times, with site changes every few days.
With all of this equipment and responsibility just to stay alive, it’s hard to be a regular kid. Robin says, “She has to think about her blood sugar, and when to test, all the time. It’s always in the back of her head so she can’t be as carefree as a child should be. Whatever she’s doing, to always be aware of the clock and have to excuse herself to check her sugar–it takes away from the experience.”
Robin notes that even if a cure was found today, it would take seven to nine years for it to make it through the governmental approval process. She says, “There are so many phases the research needs to make it through. If funding is lost we’d have to stop the process which makes new treatments that much farther away.”
Since 2004, TDS has donated more than $20,000 to the Western Wisconsin Chapter of JDRF to help support the search for a cure.