Tuesday, April 29, 2014

MS Activists Walk the Walk (and Talk the Talk!) in Seattle

MS activists take action in many ways, whether it's meeting with their legislator, telling their story, determining policy priorities on our Government Relations Committee, or taking advantage of virtual advocacy opportunities through blogging, Twitter, or our MS Action Network.

At Walk MS: Seattle, our volunteers (including MS activists Holly Hawker and Karl Schiller) reached out to future activists by spreading the word about the Greater Northwest Chapter's advocacy work at our MS Activism booth.

Hundreds of participants interacted with our booth at the Gas Works Park rest stop by participating in our “bean poll” (voting on which policy issue matters most by placing a bean in one of three jars), taking a photo in our MS Activism photo booth, or signing up for our MS Activist network email list.

Our Activism Booth by the Numbers:
  • 4: Number of wonderful volunteers at our booth!
  • 400: Walk participants who participated in MS activism booth activities
  • 113: Photos taken in our MS activism photo booth.
  • 3: Photos that Blitz, the Seattle Seahawks mascot, took in our booth.
  • 222: People who ranked "increasing funding for MS research" as the most important thing politicians could be doing to help people living with MS. (That's 54% of the votes.) 
  • 22: New activists signed up for our MS Action Network. Welcome!
For more photos from the booth, visit our Facebook page.

These were just a few simple ways to engage participants and raise awareness about our chapter’s advocacy work. How are you spreading the word about MS? To volunteer or get more involved, contact us!

See you at next year's Walk!

By Linnea Nasman
MS Advocacy Volunteer

Thursday, April 10, 2014

MS Activists meet with Rep. Jessyn Farrell

Yesterday, MS Activists Jonathan Sari and Esti Mintz met with their state Representative Jessyn Farrell to continue the discussion we had during the legislative session on special needs transportation. The National MS Society is very interested in increasing funding for accessible transportation, and we have been talking with legislators about how to make this happen. As the vice-chair of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Farrell has a particularly powerful role to play in budget negotiations. 

From left to right - Esti Mintz, Nigel Herbig, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, Jonathan Sari, Jim Freeburg
Jonathan and Esti met with Rep. Farrell as part of our Day of Activism in February - soon after they met with her, she moved into a leadership position within the Transportation Committee. Rep. Farrell was particularly interested in helping out and committed to doing whatever she can to ensure our concerns are addressed. It was great to hear her strong support for the issue - we'll definitely be working with her to make it a reality.

If you are interested in meeting with your legislators to discuss accessible transportation (or any other issue affecting the MS community), let us know and we'll help make it happen.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Medical research funding protected by Governor Inslee

Medical research advocates should be pleased with Governor Inslee's recent actions that preserved funding for the Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF). On Friday, the Governor vetoed legislation that would have gutted funding for the LSDF.

The LSDF was created by Governor Gregoire in 2005 from tobacco settlement monies to invest in promising medical research in Washington state. One of the largest LSDF grants went to the Benaroya Research Institute to create an autoimmune research program to look for new treatments for conditions like MS. Since then, the Legislature has significantly reduced funding for the LSDF due to economic troubles, and proposed eliminating funding completely this year.

The Society, along with several other patient advocacy organizations, urged the Governor to veto the funding cut. Increasing funding for medical research has long been a priority for the Society, and we are pleased that medical research will continue in Washington state.