Parkinson’s group gets politically active
Amber Sanchez and other members of the local Parkinson’s support group recently returned from the Parkinson’s Action Network Forum in Washington, D.C., where, along with 300 other Parkinson’s advocates, she met with concerned lawmakers.
Sanchez said the trip was exciting because she was able to meet with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), cousin of New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, who gave a keynote speech in which he told the advocates he would be introducing the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act the following day.
This legislation will create, for the first time, a database that allows people to learn who is affected by the disease. This database is important to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease because it would identify geographical clusters that address toxin exposure in those cluster areas. The database will enable scientists to better understand the causes of Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, along with other neurological disorders.
On Wednesday, March 2, Sanchez met with Sen. Tom Udall, Rep. Steve Pearce and the other New Mexico representative staff members to talk about important government funding issues around Parkinson’s disease. During the meeting, she asked them to join the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s disease.
She also asked them to support and vote yes on the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act (S.425), and to support NIH funding for biomedical research.
“The meetings went well, and I believe our ‘asks’ are easy bipartisan matters,” Sanchez said. “All of our state representatives were open to joining the caucus. Tom Udall was the most receptive. Rep. Steve Pearce wanted more information about the Surveillance System Act (S.425) before agreeing to support it.
“Overall, our New Mexico representatives were open to hearing our concerns, but it is important that they continue to hear from New Mexicans, especially with PD, about how we will be watching how they vote,” she said. “It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 New Mexicans with PD, however we don’t know for sure, because there is no tracking of the disease, hence the need for the Surveillance Act.”
The local Valencia County Parkinson’s Support Group met on Sunday, March 6, where they discussed these legislative pushes. The group supports these pushes and believes they are vital PD issues. The group has formed a legislative committee, with the leadership of former Los Lunas Mayor Louis Huning, and will be meeting with local representatives.
They are also formulating a plan of action to go to Santa Fe next year and address the Legislature as well.