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Opening session

Posted by katewillette on April 13, 2008

In the ballroom, and believe me it was an effort to get everybody to stop schmoozing and roll down here for opening remarks.  The speaker is a woman named  Phyllis Gray from Kennedy Kreiger . .  she’s saying

“Most of the important things have been accomplished by people who kept on trying when there was no hope at all.”

Marilyn Smith, (class act extraordinaire!) gets up and starts off with the housekeeping rules . . . cell phones, where to register, what’s in your bag, where to go for the breakout sessions.  The plan this year is to have each of the speakers do their thing twice, but even so we’ve had to choose four sessions from a possible seven.

Credit to the sponsors of w2w, who make this possible — Kennedy Kreiger, Sci-Step, NWI Spinal Cord Injury Group, Novartis, Acorda, National Rehab Hospital, Sam Schmidt Foundation, Alseres Pharmaceutical, Pride Mobility Products Corporation, Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery, Integra Foundation, Restorative Therapies, Medtronic, Project Walk, Bioness, Craig Hospital, Push to Walk, Boston Medical Center, Next Steps Chicago, Determined2Heal . . . I mention all of them by name because

Marilyn is talking about the first rally 4 years ago, which began with a tape of  Bob Marley singing “Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up for Your Rights!”  She says that she looked at her new friend Sue Maus, who was in tears.  Sue asked her to wipe her face.  Marilyn says she’s working for the day when Sue can wipe her own eyes.

She introduces Sean Tipton, former president of CAMR.  He’s got a slide show and the title slide is up:

Successful Advocacy

He starts with the Why and How . . . the first amendment says we as citizens get to come to Washington and bitch!  This begins with registering to vote, then actually doing it.  Slide is an image of guy in a chair entering a polling place.  The politicians are not going to do stuff for us just because it’s right.  They should, but they won’t.  Next is — $$$$.  Shouldn’t matter, but really, really does.  He says he knows that for lots of us it’s distasteful, but it’s also important to understand that it matters.

What else?  Show up.  There are town hall meetings, there is the postal service, there are telephones, and of course there is email.  We should definitely be getting the personal emails from the congressional staff we speak with this week.

What happens when you visit Capitol Hill?  He recommends keeping track of the “4 R’s”:

Relax.  (And don’t be taken aback by the fact that some aides seem to be about 12 years old.  They’re probably the smartest, hardest-working young people you’re going to run across.)

Respect. (These people are certainly doing you a favor by giving you some of their time.  Don’t waste it.)

Remember: (Their names, the vibe you get from them–write things down.)

Relationships: (DC runs on relationships.  Build them.  Keep those email addresses and use them to say thanks for their time.  Don’t assume that the person you’re talking with can’t really help you.  They probably can.)

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