Spenser, who lives in Alameda and attends Head-Royce School in Oakland, participated this week in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Children's Congress, designed to remind lawmakers of the struggles children with diabetes face and to ask them to do their part in helping find a solution.
Spenser was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 11.
"It was great," Spenser said of his trip. "We met with quite a few people. We had some time to sightsee."
Spenser attended a Senate hearing on diabetes issues Tuesday and subsequently met with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; a representative from the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, as well as Representatives Pete Stark, D-Fremont, Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Van Nuys, and Hilda L. Solis, D-El Monte.
Spenser said his longest chat was with Stark. It lasted about 45 minutes, he said.
"We talked about diabetes research, why it is important to find a cure, just what I go through every day," Spenser said.
He said some lawmakers were surprised to learn how intensive the treatment regimen is.
Spenser tests his blood sugar five times a day and takes four or five shots of insulin to maintain healthy sugar levels.
Chief among the priorities for those who participated in the Children's Congress was lobbying for companion House and Senate bills that would extend funding for research specifically related to Type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes differs from the more prevalent Type 2 diabetes in that it is usually diagnosed in children or young adults. With Type 1, the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar into energy.
In Type 2, the body either does not produce the right amount of insulin or the body's cells do not use insulin properly.
Spenser and his father, Doug Linney, who went on the trip with his son, said they were encouraged by the responses they got from the lawmakers with whom they met.
The lawmakers indicated their support for the legislation, they said.
Others who participated in the Children's Congress were not so fortunate, Doug Linney said, with some lawmakers balking at funding proposals.
"There's still clearly work to be done," Doug Linney said.
For Spenser, it was his first trip to Washington. They saw the Washington Monument and Lincoln, World War II and Vietnam memorials.
They also visited the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and caught a Washington Nationals game at RFK Stadium.
The home team was waxed, 15-1, by the Detroit Tigers.