“When I was diagnosed back in 2003, there were only three therapies on the market for people living with MS,” Therese Humphrey starts off almost every meeting with elected officials by telling her story.
During the past year, Humphrey, who is a new member of the Greater Illinois Chapter’s Government Relations Committee (GRC) has participated in advocacy at multiple levels. In March, she attended the Society’s Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. — a gathering of MS activists from across the country. Following two days of seminars and speakers, the conference concluded with a day-long trip to Capitol Hill, where activists met with their senators and representatives. Humphrey weathered a snow storm to have her voice heard.
“I felt with my visits to the Hill that I was actually contributing to the cause,” said Humphrey. “I was able to take my story to the people who have the power to truly help.”
Later that same month, Humphrey joined members of the Illinois GRC and other MS activists in Springfield for MS Action Day. In just one day, activists shuttled between the offices of dozens of state senators and representatives, and had a special visit with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
“We were able to connect with state legislators,” added Humphrey. “They wanted to know about the disease and what could they do to help.”
Due in large part to Humphrey and other MS activists, the Illinois Legislature unanimously approved a bill establishing an Illinois MS Task Force that was signed into law by the Governor this summer.
In August, while Congress was on recess in Washington, Humphrey met with multiple federal elected officials and their staff, including Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. During these meetings, Humphrey reiterated many of the points she made during her visit to Capitol Hill earlier in the year.
“Had it not been for research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the drug that I am on today would not exist,” she explained to Schakowsky during their visit. “That’s why we are asking for Congress to fully fund the NIH. Funding MS research will lead to the development of new therapies, and may one day lead to a cure for MS.”
“You’ve got my support,” said the Congresswoman.
Are you interested in being an MS activist? If so, contact Jeremy Barewin with the Greater Illinois Chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org