I have had the opportunity to give 100+ speeches in over 30 different states at various conferences, schools, and events. If you have an event you would like me to attend, please get it touch!
At the diabetes conferences I have attended, my speeches have tended to be motivational. I speak about my insecurities as a teenage girl who suddenly had to deal with wearing several medical devices, learning to have confidence despite--and because of--them, and how that journey inspired me to eventually wear my insulin pump on the Miss America stage. I have also spoken about Bike Beyond, and how I rode from New York City to San Francisco with a team of 18 fellow type 1 diabetics in the summer of 2017. I have also participated in several panel discussions on a range of topics relating to life with type 1 diabetes.
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE &INSULIN PRICE GOUGING
As a type 1 diabetic living in the United States of America, I have seen firsthand what a struggle it can be to afford the basic health care and medication necessary to stay alive. Health care is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S., and we pay more per person for healthcare than any other developed nation in the world BUT we have worse health outcomes. This is unacceptable. I spent the first half of 2016 volunteering to help Bernie win the democratic primary, because I believe this country desperately needs Medicare for All, and that cannot happen while big pharma's money has such a significant influence in our nation's government.
I had the opportunity to give a speech at the Boise Bern Fest, after leading the parade as paper maché Bernie in rollerblades (see photo above). I was then invited to introduce Bernie at his rally in Idaho Falls, and was able to speak about the health care coverage gap unique to Idaho, and other conservative states in which federal funding for Medicaid expansion was declined by our state legislatures after the passing of the Affordable Care Act. This coverage gap left hard working Idahoans uninsured because they made too much to qualify for Medicaid without the expansion, but at the same time did not earn enough to afford health insurance. Side note: my condolences to anyone in Idaho Falls who was hoping to see Susan Sarandon or Danny DeVito that day. I know I am much less cool.
Finally, I was able to represent the Bernie side of the Twin Falls County caucus in the spring of 2016. At each of these events, I heard story after story from Idahoans coming up afterwards to tell me their personal struggle in affording the health care they so desperately needed. I have heard similar stories from diabetics across the country, and hope to continue to fight for health care as a human right, and access to affordable insulin for all who depend on it.
While my conferences speeches tend to be directed towards a majority-diabetic audience, the purpose of my school assemblies are usually to educate kids about type 1 diabetes. I believe that a lot of bullying in adolescence stems from kids not understanding the things that make their peers different. School assemblies are my favorite speaking engagements because it is so impactful for kids living with diabetes to have someone come into their school and teach their peers about what diabetes is, what it means for our daily lives, and why we wear these "weird" machines on our bodies (that actually do some really, really cool stuff). When their peers gained a better understanding of diabetes, many kids with diabetes have reported back to me that the bullying they faced at school significantly decreased. It was really difficult for me as a kid and teenager to feel misunderstood and like I didn't fit in. Adding diabetes on top of that made those typical adolescent feelings even more challenging and complicated, which is why school assemblies are so close to my heart. If you would like me to speak at your school, please get in touch! It might be difficult depending on where you are located so no promises, but we can try to make it happen!