August 31, 2010 >> back to issue

“We’ve Got to Get the Word Out”:
435 Campainers
Make the Most of District Visit Season

Merle Reeseman, Yunena Morales, and Robert Converse know how to make the most of an opportunity. All three took advantage of the fact that their Members of Congress spent August away from Washington, D.C., meeting with constituents in their home districts.

Rep. Altmire speaks to Merle Reeseman's support groupMerle Reeseman, a 435 Campaigner who has scheduled several visits with her Members of Congress, began working with Representative Jason Altmire’s [D-OH] office months ago to schedule a time to meet with him. “You’ve got to ask them early because their schedules fill up quickly.” She invited Rep. Altmire to attend her support group meeting, and on August 14, he spent over an hour talking with and listening to PH patients (pictured at right). To Merle’s surprise, Rep. Altmire announced that he would co-sponsor the Tom Lantos PH Research and Education Act in front of the entire support group. “When I get back to Washington, D.C., in September, I will do everything I can to get my colleagues to co-sponsor this bill,” Representative Altmire announced. “It passed in the House before; we can get it to pass again.”

Representative Jim McDermott [D-WA] has supported the PH Research and Education Act in past Congressional sessions and is a co-sponsor this year. Realizing the importance of maintaining a relationship with her Member of Congress, Yunena Morales scheduled a visit with Rep. McDermott to say something Members of Congress rarely hear, “Thank you.” Yunena took the opportunity to thank McDermott for his constant support for the PH Research and Education Act and also talked to his office about educating more populations about PH.

Robert Converse found out about PHA’s 435 Campaign and the District Visit Campaign while attending PHA's 9th International Pulmonary Hypertension Conference and Scientific Sessions in June. After Conference, when Robert returned to his home state of Washington, he immediately contacted Senator Patty Murray’s [D-WA] office and was surprised that he was able to schedule a meeting for this September after just one contact. Robert plans to make the most of his visit by asking Senator Murray to co-sponsor the PH Research and Education Act. Robert says, “There are millions of people in the United States and only 435 representatives representing us. We’ve got to get the word out!”

Congratulations and good work to these and all other District Visit Campaigners who reached out to their Members of Congress throughout August!

The District Visit Campaign may have ended, but that does not mean your opportunity to educate and advocate to your Member of Congress is over! Contact Elisabeth Williams, PHA’s Grassroots Campaigns Associate, at Advocacy@PHAssociation.org or 301-565-3004 x753 to learn about the different ways to reach out to your Member of Congress and to learn more about the 435 Campaign.

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