What a whirlwind week it has been. I was honored to take part in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., these past few days. Activists from around the country met for two days of rigorous training and discussions, and then the society let us loose on the Hill to talk with our state delegations.
I won’t be able to do justice to all of the informative sessions and meetings, so I will leave that to the very talented Lisa Emrich, who wrote about it over at the MS Society Blog.
What I can do is give my highlights (and some low points, because that’s my MO):
• The Sunday flight to D.C. I sat next to the world’s tallest man. Or at least he acted like it by the way he stretched over into my area. Also, he reeked of an ashtray and whiskey. Not the best start to the trip, but I was hopeful it would get better. It did.
• One of my favorite parts was getting to talk with people from the South Central region. For several of them, this was a return trip, so their experience helped this new girl feel right at home.
• AWESOME! (those who know will get it)
• Listening to some terrific speakers, including honorary Arkie Channing Barker.
• Talking to my cohort into the wee for us hours of the night. (Give us a break. We have MS, after all).
• Sharing ideas with activists from all around.
• No mango salsa (this was a low point, obviously).
• But we did have a mashed potato bar. (Clearly, you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten Peruvian purple potato out of fine glassware).
• Meeting people I’ve been talking to and emailing for months. Although, I swear I need a deck of cards with everyone’s photos and titles to jog my memory.
• In-depth presentations about how research, trials, policies and legislation is carried out.
• Asking a stupid question in front of 500-plus people. BUT, then making some new connections based on said stupid question.
• Meeting members of our delegation and feeling that they were more than receptive to our cause.
• Coming into my own as an MS Activist, and knowing that I did my best to represent the nearly 8,000 residents of Arkansas who are affected by multiple sclerosis.