An open letter to Governor Romney: What about medical research?

September 21, 2012By 29 Comments

The following is a guest blog written by my daughter with diabetes, Lauren. Lauren is a junior at George Mason University studying Political Communications. She had an interesting meeting with Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, then the Governor of Massachusetts, a few years back. I hope you’ll read this and — D or R– share it wherever you can. It would be great if Lauren could get him on the record about supporting things like the NIH and other medical research funding. Read on (and add your support in the comments section below — then SHARE!)  And please note: D and R can share this — she is not doing anything more than asking him to state a position. The more we share this — on FB or twitter and the like — the more chance we might get his attention. Thanks.

 

Dear Governor Romney,

I’m sure your life is so busy that you don’t remember our meeting a few years back. But with you now officially the Republican nominee for President, I thought it was right for me to refresh your memory, share my perceptions, and remind you of what you told me you’d do for me.

I was almost 14 years old that summer, and one day when I got home from my swim team practice or tennis team practice, my mother said this:

“The governor’s office called. He’d really like to meet you.”

No offense, Governor Romney, but I really wasn’t into it. First of all, it was summer. I loved the beach, the pool, the tennis courts and my friends, and I didn’t want to miss a moment of it. Second, it’s not like I’d not met powerful elected figures before. I’d already forged my wonderful friendship with Senator Ted Kennedy by then. I’d spoken before Congress earlier that summer. I’d had more meeting with congressmen and others than I could count. I’d been given a national award, the Prudential Spirit of Community Award,  by Colin Powell (the reason you wanted to meet with me in the first place).

And no offense, Governor Romney, but you’d not exactly won me over with your lack of support for medical research in our state. You see, I might have just been 14: but I knew. My mother had taught me to be an advocate for my own disease – Type 1 Diabetes. So not only did I know you’d not support research, but I’d actually testified before our own state Senate about some of the research you refused to support. I’d read up on it all and learned all I could to be a smart advocate for my cause. So yeah, I was not exactly pumped to meet you. And I begged off.

A few weeks later, my mother sat me down. “Lauren,” she said, “The Governor’s office just called for the third time. Will you please go in and meet with him so we can be done with this?’ I told her she could bribe me with post-meeting fondue at the Parker House and she agreed. So I was in. The following Tuesday, I’d head into Boston to the Statehouse to meet with you. And then go to the Parker House.

It was just my mom and me who went along – we waited in a hallway with another man who’d been invited to meet with you that day. I laughed and felt bad for you because I think that guy brought along everyone he ever knew in life and maybe a few people he met on the way in. Funny!

So my turn came and I was called in a room where you were waiting. I walked up to you and we shook hands. I handed you one of my diabetes walk team T-shirts that says ‘Got Islets?” on the front. This interested you. You looked if over and then said to me, ‘Diabetes. Right. You must be glad to live in a state like Massachusetts where Stem Cell research is allowed.” I blanched. And took a breath. And then decided to just speak my mind.

“Well, yes, Governor,” said, looking back at you. “Except that you vetoed that law and that veto was overridden. You didn’t want it to be allowed here.”

Now I’m pretty sure I took you by surprise. I mean, who would expect a teen girl with a tan and a ponytail to know that? But I did. And frankly, I was kind of shocked that you said that to me in a way that .. . well, that took credit. After all, stem cell research was allowed in my state despite you, not thanks to you. Even I knew that.

You didn’t answer directly and instead asked me about my dreams for the future. I told you that in my career life I wanted to go into public service of some kind. And I told you that in my personal life, I wanted to be cured. I told you I had great hope in federal funding for research and in state support for the same. You told me you did too, and that when I was an adult, I could be sure people like him would be sure such funding had continued to make a difference in my life. You never said the word “promise,” but you talked to me like a man who planned on supporting medical research funding, given the chance.

We took some photos, shook hands again and said good day.

Lauren and then Governor Mitt Romney the day of their meeting at the Massachusetts State House.

Out in the hallway I relived it with my mother and said, “so he basically just says what the person standing in front of him at that moment wants to hear, right?”

“Well,” my mom said, “He’s not the only one. You just learned a valuable lesson in life and public service. First, never assume the person you are talking to is uneducated about any issue at all, like he did assumed about you. Second, don’t try to pretend you support something that you do not. It’s better to be honest than to try to kiss up, right?”

 

And then she said something else: “Don’t forget what you two spoke about. You never know what the future will bring.”

And off we went for fondue.

So here I am, Governor Romney. I’m 21 years old now and just like I told you, working toward a life in public service (I’m a junior at George Mason majoring in political communications). In November, I will cast my first presidential election vote and I’m thrilled about that. I still have Type 1 Diabetes and I still want a cure. So, I’m asking you today to honor what you told me you’d do that that day.

Are you prepared to go on the record now as supporting federal funding for diabetes research? Are you prepared to go on the record supporting an administration that does not cut and in fact increases the National Institute of Heath Budget overall? Because to me, that’s what making sure funding is in place to continue to make a difference in my life (and the lives of millions of others) means.  I watched your convention speech and I didn’t hear a word about medical research. I’m not just that girl you told you’d support it years ago: I’m a voter now. And I need to know. I want to hear that you if you become president, even if you have to make hard choices, you won’t cut from potentially life-saving medical research programs. I want to her you want our country to be innovators and leaders in cure breakthroughs. I want to hear you will not slow down progress, and in fact you’ll work to speed it up.

I’d really like to look back and think I was just a girl who did not see that you really did care and didn’t try to fool me that day. I’d really like to hear that you want to stick to what you told me that day. I’d really like to be able to say that day missed at the beach was worth way more than some fondue (even if it was good).

I would be happy to meet with you again to discuss funding for research and how you can support it as an elected official. I am in Virginia now – a state you need, right? And am flexible to meet with you (other than my college classes). But I know you are very busy. It would be enough if you just announced that you are committed to research for cures. A lot of us out here really care about it. So let us all know. Let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you, be it personally or just reading about your announced stand on this issue. Oh, and bonus points if you still have my walk shirt. It was a pretty cool shirt, if you ask me.

 

Sincerely,

Lauren

Diagnosed with T1D at 6, hoping for a cure

 

 

Filed in: AdvocacycurefeaturedInspirationKids CanResearch Tags:

Comments (29)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Allison B says:

    Amazing job Lauren, as a mother of two children with T1D I would love to know the answers to the questions you ask as well and I have hope that we will have his support on our quest to find a cure.

  2. Paula says:

    Kudos to you for standing up for what you believe in, and holding someone’s (any someone, even if that someone is a presidential nominee!!)feet to the fire for “promises” they made. Thank you for the voice of many many many type 1′s and their families. Much love to you and your fabulous mom!

  3. Christy F says:

    Great letter! I hope we get those answers and a cure as well.

  4. Arlene says:

    I was inspired by this letter and will show it to my 19 year old son, 3 years this month into his diagnosis of Type 1. We do not live in the U.S., but admire your perseverance. Wow…. All research, regardless of which country we live in, will help us all. Sending positive energy your way!!

  5. Amazing article Lauren! I want to know too. I’ve always been relatively conservative, though I am an independent voter. I want people to have the American dream and fight for it, and have a reason to fight for it. I want our children to have all the opportunities for a good education and healthy life. I also want diabetes to be cured – and not ONLY because I want my child to be healthy (of course I DO), but also because the COST of managing diabetes complications is so astronomically high that the country and world would save BILLIONS of dollars by just finding the cure!

    Thank you Lauren, you are a true inspiration for young people everywhere.

  6. Lindsay Watkins says:

    Awesome letter Lauren! You and your mom do so much amazing work toward a cure for Type 1. I lost my mom to ALS/Lou Gerhig’s Disease, another disease that desperately needs a cure and benefits from NIH funding and stem cell research. I’ve shared this with many of my friends in the ALS community- some of whom are die-hard Romney supporters- in hopes that they will consider it come November.

  7. jen says:

    Right, and what is Obama promising? GIve me a break. YOu sound like a snot nosed brat whose parents have enabled you by telling you how brilliant and perfect you are.
    You’re an idiot and so is your mom ; )

    • Moira says:

      Thanks for your response. I think she’s just looking for information to help her decide whom to vote for. And feel free to call me an idiot, but she’s a hard-working kid. Not perfect by any means, but doing her best to figure the world out. Like most college kids.

    • What kind of a person attacks a young adult trying to decide who to vote for? Trying to make this world better for others? For being involved and knowing more about the political process than most adults? I’m completely flabbergasted by your rudeness and insensitivity to a young person who is doing everything right. She’s going to school, she’s involved in her world, she’s an advocate for people who desperately need one. Wow, just wow…

    • Mary Cullen-Roe says:

      Dear Jen,
      It would be remiss of me to not respond to your brilliant rant, written so eloquently. I love the emoticons. I am sure Lauren and Moira are reevaluating their choice in writing open letters to future presidential candidates based on your observations. Good luck to you, it must be hard to live in such a tiny space. Lauren you are brilliant and very special.

  8. Type 1 Momma says:

    Lauren, I think you did an excellent job! As a new voter, and someone who previously met Mr. Romney, I think it is great that you are calling him out for some answers, especially on things he seems to “skirt around”. I am a parent of a daughter with Type 1, and would also like to know where he stands on these issues prior to making my choice in the upcoming election.

    To “jen” Really? She does not sound at all like a snot nosed brat! I agree that she was enabled by her parents….to speak up and ask for answers in areas that concern her, and to be an advocate in her own health care! You must not have any problems with any family members regarding healthcare, and if that is the case, kudos to you, but some of us depend on knowing where our tax dollars are going in relation to helping our family and friends live healthier lives, and in Type 1 Diabetes’ case, funding towards research and a cure, not to mention all of the other things like Alzheimer’s or cancer. I think we know who the REAL idiot is here….and it sure isn’t Lauren!

  9. Rachael says:

    Kudos to Lauren, I hope you get the answers you are looking for. Moira you are an amazing mom and a true inspiration! D Moms ~ stay strong, advocate,educate and hope for a cure!

    As for the comment from Jen, to make commetns like that shows you have no self respect.. if you did you would never speak to another like that.. I wish you well in life to find self respect, once you find that you will be able to respect others..

  10. Amy says:

    Moira, you did a fantastic job in raising Lauren into the woman she is today. You and Lauren are amazing inspirations to all of us in the D community.

    Jen, my question for you is, why are you reading this article if you think Moira and Lauren are “idiots”? ;)

  11. Lauren M. says:

    Oh, but she IS brilliant!
    I, too, am EXTREMELY conservative and also think that Obama has a lot to answer to. However, Lauren is doing the responsible thing by asking important questions of someone that is vying to be leader of the Free World. It is our right…no, our duty, to ask the hard questions of our lawmakers. She did it with the utmost respect and I applaud her. And as I said on another forum, I hope Lauren runs for President one day. She’s got my vote.

  12. Karen H. says:

    A very eloquent and informative letter. I have three girls (one T1D), not yet in college, and I would hope that one day they would be able to:
    1. write as well as Lauren
    2. be as informed as Lauren is about our political leaders and their views
    3. be willing to ask the tough questions and hold our politicians accountable
    Kudos to Lauren (and Moira for raising such a wonderful daughter!) for standing up for what you believe passionately in and being willing to raise your voice to ask for information and answers!

  13. Jessica Bearak says:

    The apples don’t fall far from the trees. I’m not sure that your mom could have said it any better than that (sorry, Moira). Well done, Lauren. Well done.

  14. Linda S. says:

    Lauren, you were a role-model to Rebecca when she was a Children’s Congress delegate at 5 years old and you were the “Chair Kid”.

    Although Rebecca can’t vote yet (she’s 12 now), her older siblings are all voters (first presidential election) now. Our whole family is VERY interested in Governor Romney’s position. Thank you for asking.

  15. Dana says:

    Lauren, I am so proud of the wonderful woman you have become! I remember getting tons of hugs from you in the summertime and knowing you be gone for a bit in the middle of the summer for diabetes camp.(we did miss you!)I am proud you have a voice and you care about a cure! What a well written letter! (and I know what you mean about missing a day at the club!) you are a smart, beautiful, funny lady who will be very successful!

    And Jen… Get a life! Did you read my post? I read yours…. She is brilliant and perfect! Her parents weren’t lying! ;)

  16. Linda W says:

    Amazing job Lauren!!!

  17. Doris says:

    Where’s my reply to this post?

    • Moira says:

      Found it! sorry for some reason it went to spam. Lauren is at a college event today. I will tell you that she has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for JDRF. We support quite a few of these groups. We just believe in the NIH as well – not just for us but for all. Thanks though, this list is an excellent one!

  18. Doris says:

    Hmmmm…. posted links to actual private research foundations that are doing a great job finding a cure for diabetes… a list of about 15 links, which prove that the research is being done by private entities… where are the two posts with the links?

  19. Caryn Robison says:

    Thank you Lauren. You have grown into a young lady that we can all be proud of. I am so glad that Lisa (CC 2005) and all the others with Type 1 have you as one of their advocates. I hope Mitt Romney reads this, has an ah ha moment and lets the voters know where he stands on this issue. This will also be Lisa’s first time to vote.

  20. Katie says:

    Nice job, Lauren. Go get ‘em. I wonder if he will answer?

    Doris , thanks for that list- but you do realize, I hope, that most if not all of those foundations do also get government grants??? Because they do. And any private foundation is usually tax-exempt, and thus, gets the BIG GRANT of no taxes. we’re all in this together, and the richest nation in the world can certainly fund a little medical research.

  21. LJ says:

    So does anyone know the answer to Romneys stance on this issue? I am very interested in the answer but can’t seem to find much about it!

Leave a Reply