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8-year-old girl from Spokane in Washington, D.C. to talk about diabetes with Congress

Natalie McNichols was selected as one of 160 delegates from across the country to attend the JDRF Children's Congress.

SPOKANE, Wash. — While most kids will say they spent summer vacation at the lake or visiting grandparents, eight-year-old Natalie McNichols can say she spoke in front of Congress.

"I want to change diabetes and I want to get a cure," Natalie said.

Natalie was selected as one of 160 delegates from across the country to attend the JDRF Children's Congress -- just five are from Washington.

"Children's Congress is something diabetic kids can do, and they can go to Congress and talk to people who make laws and try to help get a cure to diabetes," Natalie said.

Natalie didn't have to look far to know what to expect as a delegate. She just had to ask her mom.

"I was diagnosed with type one in 1998," Natalie's mother, Emily McNichols, said. "And then in 1999, I attended the first children's Congress as a delegate. And I was her same age. I was also eight at the time."

Emily said she, her two sisters and Natalie, all have type 1 diabetes. One of her sisters was also a delegate at the Children's Congress in 2003.

Emily said the autoimmune disease has impacted her family and too many families around the world for there to not be a cure.

"How many generations before we can be done with this?" Emily asked. "How many times do we have to come? This is my family's third time coming to Children's Congress. How many more before we find a cure?"

Natalie has been diabetic for four years. Her mom said having an autoimmune disease means life looks different for her.

"Natalie goes to the school nurse six to 10 times a day," Emily said.

Frequent visits to the nurse can be tedious, but it's shown Natalie what she could be when she gets older.

"I'm actually going to be a school nurse," Natalie said. "Because if there's any diabetic people, I can take care of them because I have experienced it myself.

Natalie's advocacy won't end in D.C. She said she was selected to be the youth ambassador at Spokane's upcoming Inland Northwest JDRF Community One Walk. The 3.2 mile walk raises awareness and money for the research foundation.

The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 23 at Riverfront Park.

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