New Hampshire is one of a handful of states with a special fifth season — Primary Candidate Visit Season. Gaye Jacques decided to take advantage of it by trying to meet as many of the Democrat primary candidates as she possibly could, bringing their attention to the barriers to care people with arthritis face every day.
Gaye has met with an impressive number of presidential candidates competing for the Democrat nomination, 14 to be exact! She uses her position as an Arthritis Ambassador and New Hampshire voter to speak out. Gaye attends each meet-and-greet ready to introduce herself and talk about her 10-year-old granddaughter who has been living with arthritis since she was 3.
Gaye’s work doesn’t stop after the meet-and-greet is over. She prepares leave-behind materials for each candidate to introduce them to advocacy priorities. These take-aways help them understand the urgency of arthritis as a public health priority that affects more than 54 million adults and 300,000 children.
One of the issues Gaye is most passionate about is federal step therapy reform, an issue that has staying power. She hopes those still serving in Congress after the presidential race will advance the bill she touted on the campaign trail.
Gaye wants to encourage you to find opportunities to share your own story in person. “There’s still plenty of time to see what comes your way, to catch a candidate for a few words and a photo opp!”
Here are Gaye’s tips on making the most of your quick encounter with a candidate or legislator:
- Know Your Facts
Show up at events prepared for questions and bring along a printed leave-behind document you can give to the candidate. Remember, it’s OK to say “I’m not sure” to a question. Ask for their contact info, then follow up. Use this Fast Facts sheet to refer to quickly in conversations.
- Share Your Story
Your personal story makes you credible and memorable. A town hall or coffee with a Congress person/candidate is the perfect time to share your story in three short sentences or less. A town hall or local interview taping is the perfect opportunity to do that. Your to-the-point story will shed light on your connection to the issue before you jump into your question or conversation with the candidate.
- Take Pictures
Taking a photo at your meeting isn’t just a great memento for the mantel. Post your picture on social media and tag the candidate to say thank you and make sure they don’t forget your story. This documents your conversation and reminds the candidate of the issue you spoke about. Use the hashtag #AdvocateforArthritis so we can track your hard work!
- Follow Up and Follow Through
Thank-you notes are important. Not only do they serve as another reminder of your conversation, but they also convey how important advocating for arthritis is to you. Don’t wait too long to send your note — keep it relevant and current!
- You Are the Expert in Your Own Experience
All in all, it is important to remember that your arthritis story — as a patient, caregiver or provider — is completely unique to you. No one else can tell it the way you can. You are the expert of your own experience. Share your story today in our Action Center. Get started right away!