The Democrats kicked off their national convention with the theme of party unity under a cloud of controversy. Just as the convention was about to begin, emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) showing the party favored Secretary Clinton during the primary process were leaked to the media. The end result was DNC Chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigning as Chair. While Monday began with chaos and uncertainty in the convention hall, the night ended with a show of party unity thanks to galvanizing speeches by First Lady Michelle Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders (VT).
Earlier on Monday, staff and advocates from AIM attended an exciting event called “The Path Forward: An Atlantic Forum on Alzheimer's”, sponsored by The Atlantic. The event had two panels featuring policy makers, medical experts and advocates for a conversation to examine the role our government can play in tackling Alzheimer's.
The first panel included congressional Alzheimer’s champions Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR) and Paul Tonko (NY) and focused on how the federal government needs to be doing more in terms of Alzheimer’s disease research and care and support. Sen. Stabenow echoed her ongoing support for more Alzheimer’s research funding by stating the private sector can’t do it all on its own, and investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is good for all our citizens. Rep. Blumenauer said that Alzheimer’s is the most feared disease in America and will be signature disease of the Baby Boomer generation. Rep. Tonko acknowledged that there is more to fighting Alzheimer’s than just science, and there is a need in our country to support the dignity of patients and caregivers. Rep. Tonko also tipped his hat to Alzheimer’s advocates by telling the audience there’s nothing more important than advocates sharing their stories to move members of Congress to action.
The second panel continued the conversation from three very different perspectives. Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging, Teresa Osborne, opened the panel talking about the needs of families in her state, and complimented the Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s State Plan and the work the Alzheimer’s Association is doing across the Commonwealth. Secretary Osborne was then joined by Dr. Carol Lippa, professor of Neurology at Drexel University and Pennsylvania advocate Tom Brophy, who was diagnosed with the disease a few years ago. Dr. Lippa talked about the need for more trials and information in the pipeline for researchers to share and Tom spoke of the stigma of Alzheimer’s and how that impacts his life after diagnosis. Tom is an incredible advocate and veteran of the Alzheimer’s Association Annual Advocacy Forum.
Monday evening was capped off with the Headcount party and a performance by Grace Potter, a long-time advocate for the cause. Hundreds of convention delegates, attendees, and staff joined AIM and partners for music, food and fun.
On Tuesday AIM will present the 2016 State Trailblazer Award to Gov. Jack Markell (DE) at the Democratic Governors’ Association. Stay tuned for more coverage of that exciting opportunity and more news from the convention hall.
John Funderburk is the Finance Director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement.