Our newsletter recipients received our recap last week, but we wanted to share this info again, so everyone can see what we accomplished at our first annual Walk & Roll on DC event!
We are thrilled to report that the first annual ‘Walk & Roll’ on Capitol Hill was a HUGE success, thanks to all of our amazing friends and supporters. Thank you so much for your gifts, for your encouragement and prayers, for your belief that we could march on Congress and truly make a difference for our loved ones living with spinal cord injuries. (Scroll down for a breakdown of the Congressional Bills we addressed!)
We kicked off our event with Kay Ledson and a group of us warrior moms walking the final miles of the Warrior Momz Walk from the White House to Capitol Hill on a cold and blustery Monday morning. Kudos to Kay – what an accomplishment to walk across the country! We celebrate this achievement with Kay and are committed to use the momentum she built as she walked for six months to fund activity-based therapy for our friends and loved ones with spinal cord injuries throughout this next year. More to come on that subject in the next newsletter!
Fifty participants / 35 delegates representing 12 states convened in Washington on Monday for our celebration luncheon and Advocacy Training Session with Justin Beland from HCM Strategists and Kim Beer, Director of Public Policy with the Reeve Foundation. It was a long afternoon filled with great information, some fun role-play activity, meeting schedules, cheat-sheets, and “Leave-Behind” material for our congressional meetings. By 5:00 we were all well prepared and ready for the next day’s ‘Walk & Roll on DC’! (A big shout out to the Capital Hilton who really rolled out the red carpet for us – we had 6 wheelchairs in the group, and we were all treated like royalty.)
Then on Tuesday, this small but mighty group of delegates conducted 32 meetings on the Hill, not counting the walk-in meetings, so probably closer to 40 meetings! It was an amazing, empowering day and from the feedback so far, I believe everyone will come back next year and do it again. Our goal for 2019 is at least one meeting in every state! As soon as the 2019 calendar is published, we will broadcast the date – it will probably take place in late spring.
Alexandra Bennewith, MPA VP of United Spinal Association, and Maggie Goldberg, VP of the Reeve Foundation, joined us in Washington, and we felt quite honored to have them with us. Several members of the ‘Walk & Roll on DC’ Planning committee were with us: Sharon Drennan, Cindy Kolbe and Tony Davenport, wonderful warriors all! And five members of the hosting QUAD Foundation traveled all the way from southern California to Washington DC to participate – I am so proud of our hard-working organization.
So thank you. None of this would have been possible without your help, your contributions, your prayers and your belief that together WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Thank you one and all.
See you on the Hill in 2019!
Love and thanks,
Vice President & Warrior Mom
QUAD Foundation, Inc.
OUR AGENDA IN DC: CONGRESSIONAL BILLS
Our original focus in Washington DC was Senate Bill S.253 which asked to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to repeal the Medicare outpatient rehabilitation therapy caps. We are happy to report that this battle was won on February 8, 2018 when President Trump signed the budget into law, which included the therapy cap provision. We like to think Congress and the President heard the Warrior Momz were coming to town and decided to take care of business in advance!
So we quickly shifted our focus to several other important and already introduced Bills, which directly impact our spinal cord injured community.
Starting with House Bill H.R.626, which asks Congress to pass legislation to allow physicians to prescribe – and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover – recreational therapy services. In our meetings with House Representatives, we asked them to co-sponsor this Bill, we asked Senators to introduce a companion Bill in the Senate. We asked legislators from both sides of Congress to add out-patient recreational therapy to the Bill, and vote to pass the “Access to Inpatient Therapy Act of 2017”.
We also discussed H.R.620 , the ADA Education and Reform Act, which was recently passed by the House. This Bill fundamentally chips away at the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and we are solidly opposed to this, of course. We asked Senate members to oppose any future Senate version of this Bill and we asked House members to reach out to us next time prior to voting on any future legislation of this nature.
We discussed the “Air Carrier Access Act” and the Air Carrier Access Amendments currently before the House and the Senate. This is a super focus of mine – on our trip to DC just last week, the airline sold our reserved bulk-head seats and we had to “debate” at the gate to get them back (it’s the only seat Pete, who is 6’3” and a high-level quad can use) and then on the return flight, they broke the armrest completely off his chair, rendering it largely useless until repair. This is largely a training deficit, and we are working toward solving that part of the problem – stay tuned for more.
Finally, we asked members of Congress to reinstate the Paralysis Resource Center’s federal grant to its original amount; the funding was reduced last year and then completely gutted this year. We asked legislators to recognize that this department of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation provides an invaluable service offering critical information and support for the newly injured and chronically injured as well.
OUR MEETINGS IN DC
We conducted 29 scheduled meetings on Capitol Hill, not including the walk-ins! We estimate that we met with close to 40 different Congress members! We’d love for you to help us get meetings with your Congress members in 2019!
John Boozman, AR; Dianne Feinstein, CA; Kamala Harris, CA; Marco Rubio, FL; David Perdue, GA; Ben Cardin, MD; Thad Cochran, MS; Richard Burr, NC; Thom Tillis, NC; Chuck Schumer, NY; Sherrod Brown, OH; Rob Portman, OH; Jack Reed, RI; Lindsey Graham, SC; Tim Scott, SC; Joan Huffman, TX; Shelley Capito, WV; Joe Manchin, WV; Cory Booker, NJ
House of Representatives
Duncan Hunter, CA; Darrell Issa, CA; Drew Ferguson, GA; Karen Handel, GA; Hank Johnson, GA; John Lewis, GA; David Scott, GA; Jim Jordan, OH; Jim Langevin, RI; Don Beyer, VA; Bob Goodlatte, VA; Donald McEachin, VA; Alex Mooney, WV;
TESTIMONIALS FROM THE 2018 WALK & ROLL ON DC
“The Warrior Momz walk across the United States gave me a sense of accomplishment and purpose in my line of work as an clinical exercise physiologist specializing on activity based therapy for the people living with neurological impairment. The knowledge I’ve gained over the years played a vital role in support of the bills we advocated for on Capitol Hill. The particular task of contacting my state politicians to set meeting times was personalized. It allowed me to speak directly with them helping me to better understand their processes since I’ve generally not been involved with politics.
“The time on the hill was amazing especially being able to represent NextStep Atlanta. Addressing the bills with focused knowledge on the topic was easy for me as I could draw in vast examples to elaborate points. I feel empowered to speak out more regularly as a result of this event; that being said since I’ve been on several other Roll in Capitol Hill events.”
–Tony Davenport, M.Sc., LMT, FMT BLADES IASTM Certified, www.massagepainaway.net
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“The DC advocacy day with the QUAD foundation was so powerful that it has inspired me to set a goal of returning to Washington DC every single year on behalf of people with disabilities. The people in our group were passionate advocates and it was a joy to make the rounds in Washington with their voices by my side. I made new lifelong friends, and we will now be in this together forever. I’m so grateful to Debbie Flynn for everything that she has dedicated her life to, while at the same time, including others to come along for the ride.”
— Adele René, Actress, Producer, Casting Director, SCI Community Advocate
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“I am overwhelmed at how this has all come together, what an awesome thing…”
— Kelly McCall, Awesome RV Driver & Hand Cyclist Extraordinaire