Two years ago we began our effort to pass a SCI Research Funding Bill in Pennsylvania. But even that wasn't the beginning. It actually started years before, after attending my first Working 2 Walk Symposium in 2010.
It was at Working 2 Walk that I heard about the many state programs that were keeping SCI research going. I figured this was something the SCI Community could mobilize to accomplish. And eventually we did, passing a $1M appropriation in 2015 in my home state of Minnesota. That effort took a few years, but the SCI Community came together, rallied and has strengthened in the wake of that victory. So much so that last year we expanded the original Minnesota appropriation to $6M.
Then we passed a Bill in Washington State last year, thanks to the efforts of Bruce Hanson, Kate Willette (my podcast partner) and Chet Mortiz (from the University of Washington).
Now we sit poised to pass yet another Bill in Pennsylvania next week - where we just passed unanimously out of committee yesterday!
If you want to watch the vote happen live, you can see the committee hearing where Rep. Alex Charlton (Father to a young daughter with a SCI) delivers some passionate remarks to the Committee.
Money quote from Rep. Charlton:
We are a state that is known for Meds & Eds; we have medicine, we have education - we have some of the finest institutions in this country. Shame on us if we don't put this funding forward ...
So many of you have made so many calls - and guess what: it's making a difference. Your calls have gotten us this far - and now we need to double-down and push this bill over the goal-line. We can't assume we've got it in the bag, not when we're so close. Your calls to legislators matter; telling them not only how important investments in research are, but also how important it is for you - for our Community - to have a decision-making voice in how those investments are made.
Without your calls and letters (including those from the Reeve Foundation and United Spinal that were sent in solidarity with our PA advocates) we wouldn't be here.
Now we're asking you to tell your own story. Without that continued show of support from the SCI Community, there's still a chance our bill could be sidelined by an amendment during the final vote.
We very much want to continue to build this movement from within our Community and continue to press the Research Enterprise to do what it is tasked with doing - turning the theoretical into the practical; forming questions into answers; and most importantly, transforming injuries into cures.
Make some calls to legislators this week. Keep your eyes tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages for who to contact. We are in the home stretch - approaching this race’s finish line. Help us make sure we cross it.
Matthew Rodreick, Executive Director
P.S. It might seem like a stretch, but as I mentioned above, the idea for state-level advocacy was sparked, for me, not at some political organizing camp or rally - but at Working 2 Walk. An idea that was presented by other advocates who had already paved the way. Don't miss your opportunity to turn your ideas into action. Just 3 days left to register online for Working 2 Walk 2018 in Vancouver.