This month, we’re hosting a first of it’s kind event in Washington, DC called the Platinum Ambassador Assembly. This two-day event has been built for our most advanced and empowered advocacy volunteers – our Platinum Ambassadors. This event gives them an opportunity to learn from each other and a platform to share their stories in person with their members of Congress and their staff.
This year we are thrilled to have more Platinum Ambassador awardees than ever — in 2017, 51 amazing individuals around the country achieved this remarkable honor. The Platinum Ambassador title is awarded to dedicated volunteers that engage in each monthly Ambassador activity, complete four bonus activities, and meet or exceed a fundraising goal of $1,000 for the Arthritis Foundation. The prestigious honor will be bestowed on so many inspiring individuals around the country; like a mother daughter duo in Ohio, a married couple in New Hampshire, young adult patients, and juvenile arthritis parents alike.
We’d like to share their wisdom and words with you as they prepare to travel to Washington, DC next week. Read on to hear from some of our advocacy experts:
Why do you advocate for arthritis?
“I cannot express enough that YOUR voice matters! It’s so empowering to know that I can personally make a difference with my child’s story!” Tory Aquino, Pennsylvania
“Advocating for Arthritis for me is deeply personal as I’ve seen the power and hope it has given me and most importantly my 13-year-old daughter who has been to DC every year since her diagnosis at age 8. One person can truly make a difference and collectively we can change the future for everyone living with arthritis!” Janet O’Brien, Missouri
“Advocating for arthritis is important to us because we get to take control over a disease that we otherwise have no control over. We can help improve the lives of the children and adults that are living with arthritis by taking action and letting our elected officials know what matters to us.” April McCaslin, New York
What motivates you as a Platinum Ambassador?
“Advocacy gives me a voice in the daily battle with my RA and my daughter’s JA when we frequently don’t feel we have a lot of control!” Staci Penner, Kansas
“Advocating for arthritis has given my 7-year-old daughter Abby a voice, empowered her, and improved her self-confidence.” Kerry Ferraro, Pennsylvania
“Advocating is important to me because most people do not understand that kids get arthritis too.” Heather Pruett, Georgia
“My son is one of 300,000 kids who suffer from arthritis. My goal is to bring awareness and understanding of juvenile arthritis.” Jaime Jones, Pennsylvania
What does the Platinum Ambassador Award mean to you?
“The opportunity to advocate for others living with arthritis likes me helps to put my journey with a chronic disease into perspective. I am able to help other people in the process, raise awareness and educate those making decisions regarding our healthcare of the impact arthritis can have on our daily lives.” Rebecca Gillett, Colorado
“The Platinum Ambassador award means that I am making a difference. “Erin O’Rourke, New York
“We do not just talk the talk, we walk the talk, and reflect our tireless work through the successes observed in legislature, increased awareness nationally, and enhanced quality of living for the millions of people across the country (young and not so young) living with arthritis.” Barrie Lynch, Maine
What inspired you to become a Platinum Ambassador?
“At our meetings in Washington DC for the Advocacy Summit or Platinum Ambassador Assembly, I have been able to literally watch change happen for the better for people like me living with arthritis. I can’t stop now!” Shannan O’Hara Levi, New York
“After my 1st summit I had a goal of becoming Platinum Ambassador. I am excited that I met my goal this year and helped so many people along the way.” – Meredith Meyer, New York
What is one impact you want your advocacy to make?
“I want other children with JA to grow up facing fewer barriers to care than I have!” -Anna Legassie, Massachusetts
“We hope that our advocating for arthritis will bring us closer to a cure so other children won’t have to go through what our daughter has gone through. The more voices there are the more we are apt to get action. Scott Rowbotham, New Hampshire
“We made a commitment to our daughter that if she would fight the disease then we would fight for a cure… We have traveled to Washington DC to meet with our legislators multiple times, we have raised more than $146,000 for research and we have written and spoken about the importance of removing step therapy on a state and national level… Eight years later our children have grown, but we still fight on because there isn’t a cure yet, but someday there will be with your help.” Chris and Angela McComb, Texas
What advice do you have for prospective Platinum Ambassadors?
Keep at it, be persistent. Do not take the No’s or delays personally. Remember what you are trying to do for those afflicted with arthritis. Keith Moschitta, Tennessee
“Becoming a Platinum Ambassador may seem like a challenge, but it is important to remember that you don’t need to do everything all at once – just a little at a time.” Carol Arbaczewski, Ohio
“My advice for future ambassadors is to not give up it only takes a few moments of your time to advocate and make a huge difference and to never give up” Renda Brower, Indianapolis
“The advice I would offer someone who would like to achieve the Platinum Ambassador award in 2018 is ask for help. Ask for help from your local Arthritis Foundation chapter if you have questions or need advice on completing an assignment. They will be some of your strongest supporters in helping you achieve the award” Stephanie Kwiecien, Michigan
“There are so many resources and tools available to help you “ask” in a way that’s most comfortable for you, including email templates, phone scripts, and thank you notes.” -Kelby Peachey, Massachusetts
If you are interested in amplifying the message of our Platinum Ambassadors as they share their story on Capitol Hill, we encourage you to join us virtually by participating in our Assembly social media campaign – show us how you #AdvocateforArthritis!
You can participate in four easy steps:
- Create your sign: Print out this sign and in one sentence, written large and legible, tell us why you #AdvocateforArthritis!
- Take your picture: Hold your sign and snap a picture – it’s important that your words are large and easy to read in the picture. Ask a friend to take your picture so they can help make sure your message is clear!
- Set an alarm: Our goal is to flood the internet with our messages of hope and determination at 12:00 pm Eastern Time on March 13. Coordinating our posts will help our hashtag gain traction on social media. Set an alarm on your phone or calendar right now to remind yourself to post your picture online at 12:00 pm eastern on March 13!
- Plan your Post: Your post can be simple, just reiterate the reason that you #AdvocateforArthritis! You’ll want to make sure to include the hashtag #AdvocateforArthritis and tag the Arthritis Foundation. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter @ArthritisFdn and Instagram @arthritisfoundation.
If you’re interested in becoming an advocacy volunteer, please join our Advocate program to learn more about how you can advocate for arthritis throughout the year!