Inland Northwest advocates meet with members of Congress
By HARRY JOHNS
President and CEO
Hello from Washington, D.C., where nearly 900 advocates have now (April 10, 2014) headed home after a busy day visiting congressional offices in their roles as advocates and ambassadors.
(Inland Northwest Chapter advocates at the Advocacy Forum are (from left, front row) Dawn Cook, George Shives, Katie Mans, (back row) Joel Loiacono, Amy Shives and Audre Hyatt.)
As it is every year, this year’s Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum, chaired by National Board Director and former Early-Stage Advisor Scott Russell, was a powerful, inspiring event. At the opening General Session on Monday night, we heard from advocates representing all 50 states, celebrating recent victories and sharing personal stories about their experience with this disease and their unwavering commitment to our cause. Over the past few days, we were joined by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg (who blogged about her experience at the Forum here: http://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2014/04/recognizing-those-who-strive-to-vanquish-alzheimers-disease/ ) as well as CNN’s chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, Congressman Brett Guthrie, Congressman Paul Tonko and political analyst Charlie Cook, all of whom shared their perspectives on the importance of our cause, the progress we’ve made and the changes that must take place if we are to achieve our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease.
At Tuesday night’s National Alzheimer’s Dinner, hosted by former board directors and current AIM Chair and Treasurer Evan Thompson and Bob Thomas, we had the opportunity to recognize and thank some of the most passionate supporters of our cause. With support from Alzheimer’s Association champion Maria Shriver who appeared via video, Senator Ed Markey presented the Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award to current national board director Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns and her father, former national board director, Marshall Gelfand, recognizing The Judy Fund, which has raised over $5 million for the fight against Alzheimer’s. I presented Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, with the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research award, recognizing his leadership in the fight to end Alzheimer’s, including his announcement at last year’s Advocacy Forum of an additional $40 million for Alzheimer’s research. Bob Thomas presented the Alzheimer’s Association Humanitarian award to Senator Jerry Moran, for his support of Alzheimer's on Capitol Hill and Representative Chris Smith presented the Alzheimer’s Association Outstanding Advocate Award to Mary Gerard for her leadership as an Alzheimer’s Ambassador in New Jersey. We were honored to also be joined by a number of other members of Congress at the dinner and the reception that preceded it. The night concluded with a passionate speech from Early Stage Advisor Terry Berry, calling on everyone to help join the fight to change the course of this disease. More about the Forum and the National Alzheimer’s Dinner can be found at http://alz.org/forum/overview.asp.
This week, and every week, we’re collaborating across all fronts to make sure our message is heard. Our sister organization, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, organized concurrent events this week to help make the case at the highest levels of Congress that Alzheimer’s must be addressed. The Alzheimer’s Association is a significant sponsor this month of Health Affairs, an influential health policy journal which in this edition is exclusively focusing on Alzheimer’s disease. We’re building on recent media attention, sparked by the annual release of our Facts and Figures publication and stemming from the launch of our latest advertising campaign, with television ads that began airing this week, to amplify our voice nationwide. And we’re using your energy and the energy of our hundreds of thousands of other advocates, donors and supporters across the country to say, loudly and clearly, that our nation cannot afford to lose another brain to Alzheimer’s.
Thanks to the 13 current national board directors who were present at the Forum this week as well as the many Zenith Society and former board directors who joined us, to all of you reading this who were also here, and to those of you whose unwavering work at home allowed us to continue to deliver on our nationwide mission during the events in Washington D.C. this week. Because of what you do, each and every day, we will achieve our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.