Building the Blocks of Congressional Action via ALS Advocacy—One Story at a Time

If you are an average American, you probably hold a low option of Congress. It has been more than 10 years since overall congressional approval ratings have inched above 30 percent, and during most of that time its rating has actually been somewhere below 20 percent. Among the reasons given for the lack of support is that “nothing gets done.”

But if you look beyond the hot button issues that dominate cable news, you often find that individual members of Congress and their staffs are not only open to, but eager to hear the thoughts of their constituents. They are, after all, elected by just these constituents, and listening to what they have to say is in a very real sense what they were elected to do.

As such, each June people with ALS, their families, and those who advocate for them gather in Washington, D.C., to learn about the latest ALS research, network, and visit Capitol Hill to share their stories with members of Congress and lay the groundwork for legislative victories. To be sure, the trip is not an easy one, especially for people with ALS. But many made the journey, and on Tuesday, June 11, the hallways of Capitol Hill were full with those advocating for people with ALS. In all, members of the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter, Chapter board members, and local residents with ALS met with the offices of 11 representatives or senators from Missouri and Illinois.

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You Are Part of Finding a Cure for ALS—By Being an Advocate

The role we can play as individuals in finding new treatments—and a cure—for ALS can seem small. Most of us aren’t world class medical researchers. Most of us don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to donate to funding those doing that research. Our role in fighting ALS seems minor by comparison, but it isn’t. By adding our voices to the chorus of voices advocating for people with ALS we can—and do—play an important part of the fight for a cure.

As we continue with ALS Awareness Month, we wanted to look at ALS advocacy and explore what is being done, what can be accomplished, and what you can do.

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Making Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill

On March 13 and 14, ALS advocates went to Capitol Hill to speak with representatives about legislation and policies intended to improve the lives of people with ALS. ALS advocates Mark Calmes and Tara Klucker had preliminary meetings with key legislators that are pertinent to our legislative priorities.

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Communities Join Together to Support People with ALS and Fight for a Cure

A community partner event is a fundraising activity that is organized and managed by a family, group or individual who is acting independent of The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter. This August, five community partner events took place across eastern Missouri and central and southern Illinois, ranging from a tractor pull, an awareness walk before a baseball game, and two different golf tournaments. There was even an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge event earlier this month, four years after the original Ice Bucket Challenge swept social media and national headlines. This August, and every August until we find a cure, reminds us that great things happen when we come together. With all of the extra events throughout the region it was even more exceptional.

Each event has a huge impact on the community and helps people with ALS and their families in several ways. Here are five reasons community partner events are a great way to get involved in the fight against ALS.

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ALS Advocates Will Make Their Voices Heard

Tomorrow, more than five hundred advocates will gather on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for National ALS Advocacy Day.  ALS advocates from all around the country will meet with members of Congress to share their stories and educate legislators about the importance of continued funding for ALS research and patient care.

Through the efforts of ALS Advocates,  more than $1 billion in federal funding has been generated for ALS-specific research since 1998. In fact, ALS Advocacy efforts have been responsible for many legislative victories, including securing veterans benefits, enacting the ALS Registry Act, appropriating funding for caregiver relief and the ALS Research Program at the Dept. of Defense, and passing the Medicare waiver.

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ALS Advocacy: Why It’s Important and What You Can Do to Make a Difference

An important part of our mission at the ALS Association is to advocate for changes in laws and regulations that affect thousands of people living with ALS and their families. ALS advocacy has resulted in policies that not only advance the search for treatments and a cure, but has also helped to ensure that people living with ALS have access to the healthcare they need and deserve to maintain a higher quality of life.  ALS advocates from around the country have been instrumental in passing legislation that expanded veteran’s benefits, increased national data collection through the ALS Registry, and improved insurance and disability coverage for people with ALS.  More than $950 million in federal funding has been generated for ALS-specific research since 1998.

Continue reading ALS Advocacy: Why It’s Important and What You Can Do to Make a Difference