Russell Ballou, of Nutley, is only 11. And yet, he’s already accomplished more than some people a lot older have. And because of his efforts, which we will soon spell out for you, he was recently recognized by the governing body of his beloved hometown.
Last month, the Nutley Board of Commissioners met and recognized Ballou for his achievement in representing New Jersey as a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Youth Ambassador. After addressing him, the commissioners gave the 11-year-old a stunning standing ovation as he courageously took to the podium.
Public Affairs and Health Commissioner John V. Kelly III commented.
“I want to commend you and congratulate you on being selected — it’s a great honor,” Kelly said.
Ballou traveled to the Capital/Capitol July 9 with his family.
“I was extremely nervous to speak with the Congressmen and women,” he said. “But with the support of Nutley — and having practiced beforehand at the commissioners meeting — I was able to have the determination to go to Capitol Hill and share my experiences with the delegates from not only the 50 U.S. states, but from Australia, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands.”
The convention is meant to educate the importance of lowering insulin costs for individuals with Type 1 Diabetes, the form Ballou has. Renewing the Special Diabetes Act — and securing a future cure — were important tasks on his agenda.
As an incoming John H. Walker Middle School student, attending the Children’s Congress was an enlightening experience for Ballou, who said he was surrounded by others who have faced the same circumstances he has as a Type I diabetic.
“I wasn’t the odd one out — everyone there could relate to me,” he said.
The first two days of the three-day convention were dedicated to prepping.
Ballou, along with other ambassadors, were given talking points but were also encouraged to speak from the heart and share their personal stories.
They met with the delegates to prepare for the final day, in which they met with federal lawmakers. Empowered by Nutley’s support, Ballou said he had a successful trip and hopes to bring his experiences back home.
“We’re very proud of Russell. He went down to Washington, D.C., and represented the Township of Nutley, the State of New Jersey and his family well,” Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli said. “Let’s hope we find a cure for Type I diabetes. Russell is leading our fight!”
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.