Today is the Diabetes Online Community’s (DOC’s) self-proclaimed “Day of Hope.” Around the world, folks are writing the word “hope” on their hand and posting pics of it for all to see. It’s rather cool, if I might say so myself. It’s kind of like saying “Hope is here – right in the palm of our hands.”
Looking at all the photos this morning, I was reminded of a day many years ago when my daughter, then just a little girl, schooled an entire room full of Harvard and MIT professors and a few national political figures, in exactly what hope means.
It was a symposium and press conference at the prestigious Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, set up by then Senator Ted Kennedy to forward his goal to legalize stem cell research in America. My daughter and I were just getting to know Senator Kennedy back then (soon after she’s have his private cell phone and keep in regular touch with him up until his untimely death).
In case, some top scientists had outlined different concepts they had pursued around stem cell research, and different ideas they wanted to pursue moving forward.
A reporter interjected with a question.
“So what, exactly, has any of this research produced?” the reporter asked, looking for any one in general to respond. I knew what his goal was: to make it look like nothing, absolutely nothing, had come of any research.
A few scientists and MIT brilliant minds danced around the answer for a bit, talking about concepts and goals, but not giving the reporter what he wanted: some kind of product or treatment or medication that this research had produced.
Then my daughter, maybe about 13 at the time, raised her hand and said “Ummm …. It actually has produced something.”
Every head in the room turned toward her. I think the reporter was sneering, waiting for some kind of ridiculous answer.
Senator Kennedy, who was leading the discussion, urged Lauren to speak on. “Tell us, Lauren,” he said. “Because you, really, are the expert here.”
Lauren took a deep breath, looked around the room and then said something close to this:
“Every one of you researchers, every day you go in your labs and work on something like this, it produces something that helps me stay alive each day just as much as my insulin does. It produces hope. And I promise you, that hope helps me, and every person like me working hard to stay alive every hour of every day, in ways you might never know. So that’s my answer: you HAVE produced something. It’s called hope.”
The reporter was gape mouthed; the room burst into applause. Lauren’s comment became the very core them of Senator Kennedy’s fight to legalize stem cell research. It was used on the floor of the Senate; it was pointed out in a letter to then President Bush asking him not to veto the passed bill. (He vetoed anyway; alas.)
And for me, it remains a reason to keep working hard to help the JDRF and others fund research for breakthroughs. Every day, every lab, every test tube, is producing hope.
And my girl, now a young woman, still needs her daily dose.