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Inspirational 5-year-old Gilbert boy advocates for kids with Type 1 diabetes

PHOENIX – Grant Leonard of Gilbert is only 5 years old, but he’s an inspirational advocate for children living with Type 1 diabetes.

And he has plans for a career that requires the kind courage he already displays.

“One day I want to be a firefighter so that I can help people because I’m very brave,” he says in a video posted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Grant is among more than 160 kids ages 4-17 from across the nation taking part in the JDRF Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C., this week.

During the event, which takes place every two years, the JDRF ambassadors meet with congressional members to advocate for Type 1 diabetes research funding.

Specifically, the group is pushing for the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program, which allocates $150 million annually for research at the National Institutes of Health but expires in September.

Grant was scheduled to meet with both of Arizona’s U.S. senators, Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, and U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs of Gilbert.

“He’s going to basically give Type 1 diabetes a face to them,” his mother, Faith Leonard, says in a video posted Monday by the town of Gilbert.

Grant’s pancreas doesn’t create insulin, which manages blood sugar levels, so he needs to use a pump to deliver insulin into his system.

People with Type 1 diabetes require lifelong treatment, but Grant doesn’t let it slow him down.

“I will not let Type 1 diabetes stop me from doing the things I love, like playing soccer or reading a good book or playing with my friends,” he says in the JDRF video.

He recently met Mike Tucker, a Gilbert firefighter living with Type 1 diabetes.

They compared their glucose meters, discussed how they managed their diabetes and toured the station.

“He’s already doing more than 99% of kids without diabetes do,” Tucker says in the video.

“He’s going to Congress to talk about it and standing up in front of them. That’s awesome.”

Tucker has no doubts that diabetes won’t keep Grant will fulfilling his dreams.

“He can do whatever he wants to do,” Tucker said. “Now he may have to look at it from a different angle than most people or people without diabetes, but this disease isn’t going to stop him from achieving whatever goals he wants to achieve.”

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