Several months ago, Congress approved an extension for federal funding for The Special Diabetes Program, which plays a huge role in diabetes research in this country. However, this funding is set to expire in September 2014.

Recently, a hearing was held in an effort to ensure that the Special Diabetes Program receives continued funding. Among those who testified at this hearing was the Miami Heat's Ray Allen. Ever since Allen’s son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008, he has been a strong advocate for diabetes awareness.

In the hearing, Allen said that as an NBA player, he worked hard but also had a few days off to rest and recuperate — but those living with diabetes don’t ever have days off. That is why research to find a cure is so important. “The most compelling testimonies we hear on Capitol Hill is testimony from people who are affected by the decisions we make, people with personal stories to tell, ” said Rep.Ted Deutch, D-Fla., in response to the hearing.

All of those living with diabetes have a personal story to tell. We can use Ray Allen as inspiration to help us all start sharing our story so that more people will realize the vital importance of diabetes awareness and research. We have to be our own advocates for this disease. If we don’t speak up, who will? We may not get the opportunity to testify on Capitol Hill like Ray Allen did, but locally we can make a difference. Funding for diabetes research can’t stop or else there is no hope for our future and future generations in this country. Only those that live with or have a loved one that lives with diabetes understand the full significance and weight this chronic disease brings with it. We have to be the ones to step up and take a stand.