Nicole Smith-Holt teared up as she spoke about her son to a small crowd on the Capitol steps Saturday, May 12, in St. Paul.
"Tomorrow is my first Mother's Day without Alec," she said. "I will never get to see him fall in love, marry the woman of his dreams and raise a family."
Alec Raeshawn Smith, 26, of Minneapolis died June 27, 2017, from diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that can be prevented with medication. Smith had been rationing his insulin because he could not afford the drug's monthly cost of $1,300, his mother said.
Smith-Holt and her family were part of a nationwide rally for affordable insulin. Similar groups, organized by Right Care Alliance, gathered around the country to talk about diabetic loved ones who died because they could not afford insulin, a drug that regulates blood sugar. About 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Minnesota Rep. Laurie Halverson, D-Eagan, spoke at the rally, criticizing President Donald Trump's Friday speech in which he promised to "bring soaring drug prices back down to Earth" by promoting competition between pharmaceutical companies.
"I don't think that that plan is going to get us where we need to go," Klobuchar said. "As we know, after the president finished his speech, the pharmaceutical stock prices didn't go down, they went up because they were relieved that he hadn't proposed some of the things that I'm talking about."
Over the past 20 years, the price of insulin has increased by 1,200 percent, Klobuchar said.
"If you do a search on the GoFundMe page, you will find thousands of people trying to raise money for insulin," said Dr. Vikas Saini, a cardiologist from Boston and the co-chair of the Right Care Alliance.
Halverson, a diabetic, told the crowd to contact their representatives in Washington and St. Paul and urge them to address the problem.