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Cohasset boy to speak to Congress

Finn Doherty (front) with Bill Burnett, Maria Stephanos, Gary Hall Jr., and  Mark Ockerbloom at a gala in May for juvenile diabetes research.

Kero Photography

Finn Doherty (front) with Bill Burnett, Maria Stephanos, Gary Hall Jr., and Mark Ockerbloom at a gala in May for juvenile diabetes research.

REPRESENTING JUVENILE DIABETES FOUNDATION: Finn Doherty of Cohasset is a typical 12-year-old who loves sports like baseball and sailing. What’s not so typical is he has Type I diabetes, having been diagnosed at age 2.

Also not so typical: The seventh-grader at Thayer Academy in Braintree will visit Washington, D.C., from July 8 to 10 to urge members of Congress to continue supporting research aimed at reducing the burden of living with the disease, and someday finding a cure.

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“Type I diabetes is like a gigantic speed bump,” Finn said. “It slows you down, but with the right attitude, you can always keep going.”

The boy was chosen by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to join 150 children from around the country at its 2013 Children’s Congress. Joining them will be delegations from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

“I’m pretty happy about being chosen,” he said. “I want to go to Congress because I really care about this. I’ll tell them how it is to have diabetes and persuade them to support funding.”

“Finn’s a thoughtful guy,” said his father, Sean Doherty, who has been active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since his son’s diagnosis 10 years ago. “He’s always been interested in government, and it’s good to see a kid speaking up for himself.”

The disease requires careful monitoring, including pricking a finger for blood eight times a day to keep blood sugar in check, Sean Doherty said, which Finn handles pretty much on his own. Even while playing ball.

“In the dugout, he just pulls out the monitor, pricks his finger, and checks,” he said. “He takes care of it. He can look at food, figure out exactly how many carbs it has, and put that information into his monitor. It’s always with him.”

Finn isn’t shy, which also may be a bit atypical of a boy that age, his father said. In May, at the 31st annual Boston Gala, a fund-raiser for the foundation that raised $1.2 million, the boy introduced Olympic gold medal swimmer Gary Hall Jr., a friend and fellow diabetes sufferer, to the crowd.

“He got up in front of 600 grown-ups in tuxedos,” Sean Doherty said. “He’s a quiet, understated guy.”

The youngster is also active in the annual Cohasset Triathlon, which will be run Sunday at Sandy Beach. Doherty family friend Bill Burnett started it in 2007, and the event has since raised nearly $1 million. Finn was Burnett’s inspiration for choosing the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as the event’s charitable partner. For information, visit www.cohassettri.com.

“I’ve volunteered there for the last five or six years,” Finn said. “I hold the flag for the national anthem and help clean up after.”

The boy’s agenda for the Washington visit is to “blitz the Massachusetts delegation’s offices,” Sean Doherty said. “It’s very matter of fact; they’re not asking for pity, they’re just saying why they’re there and that they think more research needs to be supported.”

If the boy has one piece of advice for anyone finding out they have diabetes, it’s what his Olympic friend Hall told him when they first met.

“Don’t let diabetes beat you,” Finn Doherty said. “You keep pushing through. Though it may not seem easy at times, you can do it.”

For information on the Children’s Congress visit www.cc.jdrf.org.

HANOVER YOUTH DONATES DRUMS: Cameron Allegra, a high school freshman in Hingham, recently donated a drum set to Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover. The boy’s parents, James and Denise Allegra, had bought the set for him, but after a few lessons, he decided the instrument wasn’t for him.

When John Pappone, drum affiliate manager at Norwell-based Avedis Zildjian Co. and a longtime Cushing supporter, heard the family was looking to donate the instrument, he mentioned the organization. The drum kit will be used in the centers’ auditorium for a variety of events, said Jo Ann Simons, CEO and president of the nonprofit, which was founded in 1947 and helps people with intellectual disabilities and autism.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Thomas J. MacDonald of Canton, host of Create TV’s “Rough Cut – Woodworking with Tommy Mac,” was named spokesman for the Hardwood Forest Foundation, the first person to serve the Memphis-based foundation in that capacity.

MacDonald, 47, said he wants to “help change attitudes on the importance of responsibly harvesting trees, the world’s largest renewable resource.” MacDonald graduated from Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton, where he studied carpentry, and also graduated from the North Bennet Street School in Boston.

MacDonald’s first project is the video production of the foundation’s flagship program, “Truth About Trees,” which was created in 2006. MacDonald will also accompany foundation representatives for elementary school visits and tree plantings.

Joseph W. O’Connor was named chairman of the board of directors at Wareham-based A.D. Makepeace Co., succeeding Thomas A. Steele, who retired after 15 years of affiliation with Makepeace. O’Connor has been active in real estate investment since 1971, and founded Copley Real Estate Advisors and Singleton Associates in 1981.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at PKandarian@aol.com.
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