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Preschool student with Type 1 diabetes represents Texas in Washington, D.C.

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

More than three million Americans live every day with Type 1 Diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. It is an auto-immune disease that drastically changes lives, including that of a young boy in Houston.

Charlie Amis was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was just a baby and is now representing the state of Texas at the JDRF Children' Congress in Washington, D.C. to help enhance the lives of other diabetics.

It's been a long road for the Amis family, but they certainly seem to have it all under control. They felt like they were "on top of the world" when Charlie was a baby. Then when he turned ten months old, everything quickly and drastically changed. He got gravely ill, and they rushed him to Texas Children's Hospital.

Charlie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

"I didn't know anything about it. I knew it required shots and had something to do with blood sugar. I had no idea it was auto-immune and didn't understand the difference between Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is his body attacking itself. It's nothing he or I did. It's not caused by diet or lack of exercise. It's truly his pancreas quit working," states Charlie's mom, Jordan. "We were in such shock! We just wanted him to be the little boy he was. He wasn't acting like himself. It took nine days for him to come out of it. Then he started calling out around his hospital room and charming the nurses, and I said, okay that's my baby."

Charlie is now five years old, and a happy-go-lucky child who is fuller than life itself. His mom describes him with a big smile on her face: "He is happy, smart, funny, he likes to see how things work, he likes to make people laugh, he loves books, he loves playing, he loves his little brother, he is a joy."

What is NOT a joy is all of the daily finger pricks and medical equipment Charlie has to carry around, that take away some of the innocence of childhood. His parents refuse to let it get in the way of his happiness.

"(My husband) Brian and I think of it as our disease and we just do our best to keep him happy," exclaims Jordan.

A continuous glucose monitor makes life easier for Charlie. It's a sensor on his arm that he wears for about 14 days before his parents switch it out. It communicates with a transmitter in his pocket, they call "Dex."

While Charlie's parents obviously do everything in their power to make life normal for him, his disease is unpredictable, and they have to be prepared for anything and everything. That's why they get up at two or three in the morning to check on their beloved son.

"I get up every night to check Charlie's blood sugar. I don't even have to set an alarm anymore. I couldn't sleep eight hours if I tried, because I'm so concerned about my son," says Charlie's loving dad, Brian. "I've gotten up in the middle of the night before and seen his blood sugar in the 30's! If it stays that low, he could have seizures. For a long time (at that level), people will die."

Doctors say a normal level would be closer to 100 at night.

The Amis family realizes how important it is for more resources to treat, prevent, and eventually cure Type 1 Diabetes. That's why they packed up their bags this week and headed to our nation's capitol. Charlie was selected from 1500 children to attend the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's (JDRF's) Children's Congress and represent Texas. He can describe his disease well, and his parents will also help him.

"We're going to talk to our Representatives and Senators from Texas and ask them to support the special diabetes program. It provides funding for research for a cure and they do trials. Approving the lives of Type 1 for us is key. The cure is the holy grail, but before that - a lot of other steps can happen," says Jordan. "You get to see the kids who have their bodies pricked and their blood drawn and live every single day in a game of pong, to make sure their blood sugar doesn't go to high or too low and send them to the hospital and that's what these kids do."

Charlie's family hopes his story will make a difference and help bring about even more funding, so that more kids don't have to live that way.

For more information, visit http://jdrf.org/.

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