Last week I had the incredible opportunity to tag along with some friends from my local Alzheimer’s Association chapter and storm Capitol Hill with almost 1000 purple warriors. The experience afforded me a perspective I had never witnessed- the sense of being part of something truly important, led by charismatic leaders and passionate grassroots advocates.
I spent one entire day in training. I heard motivational speeches from diehard supporters like David Hyde Pierce, and personal testimony from courageous Alzheimer’s sufferers like Sandy Halpern, DDS. I attended several regional/state level group trainings where the specific legislation was reviewed. The legislative staff from the National Alzheimer’s Association did a great job of teaching laymen like me to utilize data to support our talking points. Although they crammed a ton of information into my head that day, I was beyond prepared to “sock it to ’em.”
Which is just what we did.
I went to a Senate hearing about the impact of Alzheimer’s research and heard testimony from Glen Campbell’s daughter Ashley. So many people have similar stories, but I think Glen’s story hits home since everyone knows his prior status. He is deteriorating in the public eye, and that takes a special kind of courage. Ashely’s testimony was very moving.
At the end of the two day forum, I had tucked several “firsts” into my pocket: first time on the Hill with a political agenda, first time at a function as an Alzheimer’s Association ambassador, and first time my mouth was put to use for the greater good.
It has left me energized and searching for more ways to contribute to the eradication of this disease. I am even more committed to sounding the tsunami warning, to advocating for the afflicted, to supporting the caregivers.
Special thanks to the Greater Maryland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for the special privilege, and for teaching me how to make a difference in Alzheimer’s disease.