Monday, March 30, 2009

Thank you!

I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have a job at the Arthritis Foundation. As the Vice President of Programs I am able to see how the Chapter tries to deliver our mission through our public health programs, public policy and advocacy efforts, and research awards. I wear many hats in my position but something that is very dear to me is the opportunity to facilitate the monthly RA support group. This group has been meeting for about a year now and we have welcomed a variety of people every month. Ages have ranged from 17 all the way up to 80+. Although mostly women come, we also have some men who attend regularly. Sometimes we have speakers but we also have a lot of time for people to bring up their own issues. People say they come because they want to meet other people and get some ideas about how other people manage their medications, their diets, their families, or their jobs. There have been some tears but mostly I see people nodding their heads while others talk. They know what someone with RA is experiencing when they mention they had a bad flare last month or had to change their treatment again or are feeling really good and planning to go back to school or work. We celebrate the victories and we offer positive feedback when things are not so great. I hope that people who have RA and are looking for some extra support and information will come to our next group meeting on April 14 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. But I also encourage people with RA who are doing really well and think they don’t need this kind of group to come and encourage others. Call me if you have any questions at 303-756-8622 ext. 229. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I have just celebrated an anniversary this week – four years with the Rocky Mountain Chapter. These have been four years of learning, changes, and growth. When I came to the Arthritis Foundation I didn’t know very much about Arthritis. I knew what I had heard all my life – the myths – but had no personal experience with arthritis. So after I learned how to work the computer, the telephone system, the accounting program, and the security system, I turned my attention to the people. I started to watch, listen, and learn. I watched and listened to those living daily with arthritis. I learned about the many programs that are available to improve daily lives and about the many research projects that are on going. I learned the part our chapter plays and how each member of our staff contributes. I just didn’t realize how personal it would become.

On Monday I received a very tearful telephone call from my dearest, life-long friend – yes, in Texas. Through her tears she told me she has been diagnosed with OA. She is naturally very frightened about this. It has been very sudden and very painful. However, she is fortunate to live in an area where there is a Rheumatologist and was able to see this doctor very quickly. I was so thankful that I could direct her to our website for information and was able to give her encouragement and understanding. Together we have faced all life experiences – grade school, high school, college, marriages, births, two battles with cancer, and even deaths. Arthritis has suddenly become very personal!

As I look back over these past four years, I know there have been many changes– changes in the staff, in the way we do things, in programs – but the one thing that remains constant is the importance of our mission and our determination to stay true to that mission. Here’s to many more good years!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Capitol Hill here we come...

The Rocky Mountain Chapter was very well represented on the “Hill” on March 3rd and 4th during the Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC. After a half day of advocacy training, 8 year old Mason and mom Annmarie Merager, Dr. Stuart Kassan, Chapter Chair and Jill Lysengen, Chapter Volunteer Coordinator joined me in visiting our elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives.

For first timers, it can be a bit intimidating walking the hallowed halls and talking to congressional aides. (Or if you are lucky, you have an appointment with an actual Congressman or Congresswoman!) From the outside the four buildings housing the congressional offices look the same aside from small nameplates. Inside, it gets even more confusing if you are using the connecting tunnels between all the buildings. We pulled out our maps several times to get our bearings. Staffers walking the tunnels were always cordial and helpful while pointing you in the right direction to your next meeting.

We asked our legislators for three things:

1.) Co-sponsor the Arthritis, Prevention, Control and Cure Act

2.) Increase funding to CDC to $23 million for arthritis prevention

3.) Approve $500 million for NIH (research)

We will be staying in touch with everyone we had an appointment with. And, we remain hopeful that the arthritis requests will be brought to (and remain) at the forefront of the healthcare dialogue that is now taking place.

On a personal note, spending time with Mason and all the young children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that were at the Summit reaffirmed my thinking and passion for demanding “action” from our legislators. To give Mason and other kids suffering with juvenile arthritis anything less than a cure, is not acceptable.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's that time...

People are still giving. It’s amazing to me how many people are still able to find ways to support the important work of our organization, despite the challenges of the economy. The national financial news seems to get worse each day, but every day long-time friends, past supporters, and new donors find ways to contribute to the Arthritis Foundation. So many people are getting involved in the upcoming walk as well, forming teams and reaching out to friends, family and neighbors for donations. Though the big gifts are harder to come by, the number of people willing and able to give smaller gifts continues to stay strong. The May 17 walk at Washington Park will be a wonderful example of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people joining together and pooling their resources to prevent, control and cure arthritis. It’s great to see the mission alive and well!