Bills long snapper Reid Ferguson has long been an advocate for diabetes prevention and research because of his younger brother, Blake.
Blake, a three-year starter at long snapper for LSU, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2011 at age 13. At the time, he was among the older patients in the hospital and he used his optimism and energy to inspire the younger patients, spurring his desire to educate others about diabetes.
During the NFL's annual "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign, Reid wore cleats dedicated to Blake and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
The brothers joined together last week for a unique trip to Capitol Hill as part of the American Diabetes Association's annual Call to Congress. The Fergusons were part of a group of current and former football players known as Team Tackle.
“The experience I had at Call to Congress with the American Diabetes Association was very eye-opening," Reid told The News. "To be able to go to the Hill and continue the talks to get more funding for diabetes research was incredible.
"My group from Louisiana met with both Louisiana senators and also one senator from North Carolina. We got the chance to ask them for more research funding as well as more funding for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. We felt like we made an impact with our meetings and are looking forward to the fiscal year 2019 budget to see what the results are.
"In the meantime, it is important for people of all ages to realize the risk that many Americans are at for diabetes. The ADA has a simple 60-second risk assessment test you can take online at Diabetes.org/risktest. I am already looking forward to next year’s trip!"
Blake understands the importance of funding for research. While in the hospital as a teenager, he took part in a study with Emory University in Atlanta. He was hooked up to an IV for a week as testing was done with various types of medications to gauge how his body reacted. When the test was over, he spent the following three months on strong antibiotics to recalibrate his immune system that had been suppressed by the testing. Blake has often said he was fortunate to have Type 1 because it still allowed him to play football and do what he loves doing.
For Blake, the visit to Congress was a chance to share his personal story but also show appreciation for his brother's support.
"I can’t thank big bro enough for taking on this initiative with me!," he wrote on Instagram. "Diabetes is a fight that cannot be ignored! Please be praying for us as we meet with lawmakers to discuss future research funding for @amdiabetesassn."