Children with Type 1 diabetes are seated on the floor between lawmakers and a panel of witnesses during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on how the Special Diabetes Program is creating hope for those living with Type 1 diabetes in Washington on Tuesday. Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Ten-year-old Yarmouth native Maria Muayad testified Tuesday before a U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on diabetes research funding.

Maria was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 7. The chronic condition prevents the body from producing enough insulin to allow sugar to enter the cells to produce energy needed to properly function.

Maria was one of over 160 children from all 50 states and five countries with Type 1 diabetes to attend the hearing on the Special Diabetes Program, a federally funded diabetes research program.

But she was the only one to speak.

“My dream and my family’s big hope is to cure Type 1 diabetes,” Maria said. “Together with your help we can do it. The Special Diabetes Program funds research that is leading us to cures. We don’t have one today but someday we will and research from the special diabetes program is important to make it happen.”


The hearing comes just a few months before the end of the fiscal year, when the current round of funding for the Special Diabetes Program is set to expire. The Special Diabetes Program allocates money for National Institutes of Health research on both Type 1 diabetes and prevention programs for Type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the body produces insulin but is unable to use it correctly.

Since 2020, the federal government has provided $150 million annually to fund diabetes research at the National Institutes of Health through the Special Diabetes Program. Sens. Susan Collins. R-Maine and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., introduced legislation to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program Reauthorization Act for the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years at $170 million annually.

“We simply must pass legislation to reauthorize the (Special Diabetes Program),” Collins said.

“It’s going to be amazing to cure Type 1 diabetes,” Maria said. “There’s so much I’m looking forward to. When there’s a cure I won’t have to wear my devices that itch and hurt and that bring unwanted attention from my classmates when they make noises. … When there’s a cure, I will be able to spend more time doing the things I love like FaceTiming my family and playing outside with my friends.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37.3 million people, or 11.3% of the population, have diabetes.

When Maria grows up, she wants to be a pediatrician so she can help children with Type 1 diabetes. “But it would be better if by the time I’m a pediatrician kids don’t get diabetes anymore,” she said. “The only way that will happen is if you keep funding diabetes research.”

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