Day 2 of Call-on Congress was packed with information, training and planning for Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates’ Hill Day on Mar. 20.
The main theme throughout Day 2? The power of advocacy.
The day started by welcoming Fight CRC’s junior advocates on stage. This year, four young advocates will join us on the Hill to help us champion better policies, increases in research funding, and the removal of screening barriers.
Attendees learned about the importance of social media in advocacy, thanks to Danielle Burgess, director of communications for Fight CRC. Advocates were offered a glimpse on how to use social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to create awareness and be effective advocates.
NASCAR driver Scott Lagasse, Jr. made an appearance to encourage advocates, and to share his story. Lagasse is a stage I survivor and a national spokesperson for Fight CRC.
Using your voice to advocate is an indispensable tool, which was a statement reinforced by Grassroots Action Committee member Eric Hausmann during his speech where he motivated advocates to be proactive and to not be afraid to fight for a cause.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) echoed this sentiment. Raskin, who is part of Fight CRC’s Congressional Committee and a stage III survivor, told advocates to use their stories to create change in their government.
“Government should not be in the business of compounding misfortune with injustice,” said Raskin when speaking about the current issues healthcare advocates are facing.
Rep. Raskin reassured attendees that he has not forgotten about his “brothers and sisters” who are still fighting cancer.
Rep. Raskin’s speech served as a transition into the healthcare reform and policy deep dive discussion led by Chelsey Hickman, director of operations at Winning Strategies Washington.
Hickman provided insight into policies currently surrounding research funding, and how to properly advocate so said funding is increased.
Caroline Powers from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) then introduced advocates to basic information regarding the “Screening Loophole” bill and how to approach the issue during congressional meetings.
In case advocates had questions on how to act during meetings, Fight CRC staff provided role-playing scenarios in which several outcomes were explored. This training was led by GAC member Trish Lannon and Ports America’s Director of Government Affairs, Tom Saunders.
Several Fight CRC ambassadors, including stage IV survivor Heather Schiller and her husband/caregiver Frederick, got on stage and briefly discussed patient experience, caregiving, and Hill Day advice.
After a briefing from Soapbox’s Kevin Schultze, who gave advocates an overview of Hill Day and meeting schedules, attendees met with their GAC mentor to discuss their meetings strategies and get organized for the following day.
Once Hill Day discussion wrapped up, two advocacy-focused panels closed Day 2.
The first panel brought together founders of different advocacy groups, such as Candace Henley from The Blue Hat Foundation, LaTashia Kiel from The Kiel Colon Cancer Foundation, Martha Raymond from The Raymond Foundation, Dr. Tom Weber from the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation and Robin Dubin from AliveandKickn.
The founders of these groups had something in common: their road to advocacy started due to personal loss or because they felt underrepresented. All of them agreed using their voices has helped them create significant change.
The second panel brought together several colorectal cancer organizations, such as Fight CRC, Colon Cancer Coalition/GYRIG, COLONTOWN, The Colon Club and Colorectal Cancer Alliance.
These organizations discussed their goal of increasing screening and preventing more deaths, and that they wouldn’t be able to do it without advocates sharing their stories and working together.
And on Hill Day, during close to 200 congressional meetings, that is what 150 advocates will do.