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Scottsdale middle schooler heading to DC to seek funds for diabetes research

PHOENIX — Hundreds of advocates for diabetes research will be in Washington, D.C., this week, and one of them is from the Valley.

Ginger Netten, 14, is an 8th grader at Desert Canyon Middle School in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has been selected as one of the 200 volunteers from the American Diabetes Association to meet with representatives and lawmakers this week.

“I’m going there to basically ask Congress to help fund for diabetes and help find a cure for type 1 (diabetes),” she said.

Netten was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 5 and said it’s a difficult condition to live with.

“It’s very hard. It’s something that I’ve learned to live with,” she said. “I had to learn responsibilities and priorities a lot earlier than some kids would have to.”

Those responsibilities include managing her blood sugar levels multiple times a day, watching what foods she eats, and — until she was able to get a pump to manage her insulin intake — getting shots several times a day, Netten said.

Since her diagnosis, Netten said she spends much of her time talking with and mentoring others her age who were recently diagnosed or who already deal with the disease.

While in Washington, Netten said she’ll be meeting with lawmakers to tell them about her condition and ask for funding to various diabetes research organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, all in an effort to find a cure.

“I want to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes and prevent type 2, because there is not just one type, there’s many. And there’s many people who live with this disease, and it’s a lot more common than some may think,” she said.

Netten will be traveling with her mother, Carla Engel, on Wednesday and they will return on Friday.