8-year-old advocates for juvenile diabetes research
When Riley Fincher-Foster arrives in Washington, D.C. later this month, she will be the voice of many in South Carolina. That’s a lot to ask for someone whose age is still in the single digits.
Riley, age 8, lives in Fountain Inn. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 4. Riley was chosen to join a delegation of children and celebrity advocates in Washington at the JDRF 2017 Children’s Congress on behalf of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She will be among a group of children ages 4 – 17 who will lobby members of Congress to continue supporting research that could reduce the burden of Type 1 diabetes and ultimately find a cure.
“I’m really excited because I get to be the voice of our area and I get to support Type 1 research and tell my story of living with Type 1,” Riley said.
Riley’s parents, Chad Foster and Courtney Fincher-Foster have taught her to take charge of her health.
“Type 1 is an autoimmune disease,” Fincher-Foster said. “Her body literally attacked itself.”
Riley wears an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor.
“She checks her blood by poking her finger at least eight times a day,” Fincher-Foster said. “We check every night at midnight and at 3 a.m. It is constant – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It never takes a break. She does a lot of her own care by herself. We still do nights. She is amazing and very responsible for her own care.”
Riley takes her health and her ability to speak up for others very seriously.
“There are not many kids that have to keep themselves alive all day and that’s what I have to do,” she said. “I have to know how to give myself shots and have to poke my finger and I have to know how to change by (insulin pump) pod. Those are all scary things.”
Fincher-Foster said part of Riley’s efforts in Washington will be to speak to members of Congress on behalf of the Special Diabetes Program, which is up for renewal this fall. The program funds research for the prevention and cure of Type 1 diabetes.
“This is huge,” Fincher-Foster said. “She is going to be one of the last people they talk to before they go on break and then they come back to vote. We feel it is a very empowering thing for her to do – to walk into a room full of politicians and share her story.”
And Riley is ready for the task.