A diabetic 10-year-old boy from Gray offered a deal Wednesday as he testified about his illness before members of Congress.

Charlie Albair, who hopes to play professional baseball, urged members of the Senate Committee on Aging to continue to support funding for diabetes research, education and treatment.

“If you do, I will invite you to a game when I am on the Red Sox,” said Albair, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6.

Albair was one of several people invited to testify Wednesday in Washington, D.C., on why research to discover life-changing therapies for Type 1 diabetes – also known as Juvenile diabetes – is so critical to him and other children, at least until there is a cure.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chaired Wednesday’s hearing before the aging committee, which heard testimony from children participating in the 2017 JDRF Children’s Congress.

“When I first found out I had diabetes, I remember thinking that this would change my whole life. I thought that I wouldn’t realize my dream of being a sports star. Now, I realize I can do whatever I want,” said Albair, who will be entering the fifth grade at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School this fall.

Albair, who also plays basketball and soccer, pitches and plays first base for his Little League team. His parents are Stephanie and Dana Albair.

Baseball is his favorite sport, the fifth-grader says, but it is not easy to play with diabetes.

“It’s tough, but I don’t let it stop me,” Charlie Albair said during a telephone interview Wednesday night.

The JDRF Children’s Congress meets every two years in Washington. It gives diabetic children ages 4-17 from every state the opportunity to raise awareness among members of Congress of the challenges they face.

Brady Chappell of Naples, Maine, was also one of 160 Children’s Congress delegates selected from nearly 1,300 entries nationwide. Chappell did not testify. To qualify, Albair and Chappell had to write letters to the Children’s Congress explaining why a cure for Type 1 diabetes is important to them.

“Diabetes is a lifelong condition that doesn’t discriminate: it affects people of every age, race and nationality. It also takes a major financial toll,” Collins said in her opening remarks.

Collins, who serves as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Aging and founded the Senate Diabetes Caucus, said diabetes costs the United States an estimated $245 billion a year, a figure projected to reach more than $490 billion by 2020. Juvenile diabetes leaves children insulin-dependent for life. The individuals must take regular doses of insulin to survive.

More than 30 million Americans or 9.4 percent of the population suffer from diabetes, according to a statement issued by Collins. About five percent of all diabetes cases are Type 1.

“Since I started the Senate Diabetes Caucus, funding for diabetes research has more than tripled from $319 million in 1997 to more than a billion dollars this year,” Collins said. “As a result, we have seen encouraging developments in the management, treatment, and potential cures for Type 1 diabetes.”

Last year, the FDA approved an artificial pancreas system that will automatically control blood glucose levels in people who have diabetes.

Albair told the diabetes caucus when he was first diagnosed he had to use syringes. After that, Albair started using the Omnipod pump and then a glucose monitor to monitor his sugar levels.

“I want my disease to go away – for me and all the other kids who suffer from it. I want us all to be able to live without thinking about it. That’s why I am here,” Albair told senators.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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