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.


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