ACS CAN: Lights of HOPE

Think back to your last luminaria ceremony. The emotion that you felt as you walked the track; surrounded by bags of your loved ones and the loved ones of the people around you. Now, imagine you are a lawmaker walking among tens of thousands of bags of the people in your district who are suffering and dying from cancer. That is Lights of Hope.

On September 12th, ACS CAN advocates from around the nation will come together in Washington D.C. to flood capitol hill with the resources, knowledge, and passion, to convince lawmakers that the fight against cancer needs to be a national priority.

That evening, advocates from nearly every state and territory bring bags decorated by friends and family and loved ones touched by cancer for a Lights of Hope ceremony around the capitol reflecting pool.  Last year, nearly 20,000 bags lit up the capitol to honor our loved ones who have been affected by cancer.

By ordering a Lights of Hope bag not only do you add your story to the thousands that surround the pool, but you also become a member of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in order to continue the fight against cancer in our legislators offices at the local and national level for the rest of the year.

The membership is credited to your university, college, or high school and your bag (customized by the staff in DC or by you if you contact your local grassroots manager) will be displayed among thousands of others in a statement that cannot be ignored.

Please, take a moment to dedicate a Light of Hope in honor or in memory of a loved one, and join the grassroots movement to end cancer in your state and national legislature. For more information contact your local ACS CAN Grassroots manager, visit https://www.acscan.org/lightsofhope, or reach out to the Advocacy Chair on the National Campus Leadership Team, Cara Lyons, at lyonsc0@students.rowan.edu.

ACS CAN: CaPitol

CaPitol with a capital 'P' as in Purple!

Are you looking to get your committee more involved in ACS CAN? Around the country ACS CAN invites volunteers to congregate at their state capitols to TAKE ACTION! Volunteers from across the state will gather to meet with legislators, and you can take part! You can see first hand the impact that your story can have.

In order to make sure that you are well prepared ACS CAN builds issue trainings into the day. You will get talking points and any other materials that you need to feel comfortable for your legislative visits. Even though you are not expected to be an expert after the training, chances are, you will know more about the issue than your lawmaker. Below you will find a sample agenda from the great state of Minnesota for what your day at the capitol may look like. Keep in mind, this is just one way that the day or days could be structured!

Even with the trainings and support from your staff, there is one thing that no one knows more about, and that is YOUR story. The importance of you being there is to show your lawmaker that individuals in their state care about these issues. To demonstrate to them the kind of impact that changes could have on the people in their state. 

Even with the support of your grassroots team and the knowledge that they are there to listen to you, it can still be a bit daunting. Good news is you will never go in alone. There will always be someone else from your state who will be there with you during these meetings just in case you need some in meeting support!

ACS CAN needs you to not only take action on petitions, but also to be a physical presence in making these issues a priority in your state. To make it a little bit easier visit the Advocacy page  for other resources including sample letters to professors to request to miss class!

To find out when your state day at the CaPitol event is visit acscan.org/events.

8:00 am - Registration and Breakfast

8:30 am - Welcome (ACS CAN, AHA, MN SHAPE hosts) 

8:50 am - Issues Overview,

  • Physical Education (Ellie Beaver, ACS CAN)

  • Safe Routes (Rachel Callanan, AHA)

9:20 am - Physical Activity Demonstration (MN SHAPE)

9:25 am - Advocacy Tips for Today 

  • How the Legistlature and Lobbying Works

  • Hook, Line & Sinker (Dana Bacon, ACS CAN & Justin Bell, AHA)

  • How to Make an Ask and Make it Personal (Dana Bacon, ACS CAN & Justin Bell, AHA)

  • Legistlator Meeting Skit (Dana and Emily White, ACS CAN & MN SHAPE)

  • Q & A (All Presenters)

10:25 am - Social Media (Annie Simaytis, AHA, MN SHAPE)

10:35 am - Keynote Speakers

  • Recognition (Rep. Kim Norton)

  • Physical Education (Sen. Susan Kent)

  • Safe Routes to School (Rep. Jeff Howe)

  • Public Figure Speaker

11:00 am - Closing and Group Picture

11:15 am - Break into Senate District Groups

11:25 am - Senate District Group Work

12:00 pm - Lunch

1:00 - 3:00 pm - Legislator Visits: After you’ve finished all of your visits, please complete the Lobby Day Evaluation form and a Legislative Visit Report for each of your legislators, and drop them off at our room in the State Office Bldg, 300N. Thank you for your advocacy!

Blog by Ian Lock, National Campus Leadership Team

 

ACS CAN Lobby Day 2016

Every year, hundreds of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network staff partners and volunteers travel to Washington, D.C. for the annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. The goal is always the same: meet with our nation's lawmakers to share personal stories and ask that they make the fight against cancer a national priority. However, each year presents different challenges and objectives. 

This year, we will be calling on Congress to support three unique asks. 

First and foremost, ACS CAN volunteers are requesting an increase in cancer research funding. We have proposed a $680 million increase for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Current projects are seeing great success in treating cancer, but hundreds of researchers are forced to abandon their groundbreaking work due to a lack of funding. As the incidences of cancer are projected to increase dramatically over the next decade, this ask is crucial. It is important to ride the momentum of current research projects and ensure new projects are properly funded.

Secondly, we are asking Congress to support the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act. This is more commonly referred to as the Quality of Life Bill. Individuals diagnosed with cancer are faced with fear of the unknown, effects of treatment, and lingering physical symptoms of survivorship. Palliative care is an extension of care, and when used in combination with curative treatment plans, it has been proven to be most effective for cancer patients and their families. Individuals affected by cancer deserve an organized plan of overall treatment and this bill will provide that. 

Lastly, volunteers will stress the importance to support the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screenings Act. Colorectal cancer is highly preventable with the help of screenings and removal of polyps. However, a loophole exists that leaves seniors on Medicare with a surprise bill if a polyp is found during a routine colonoscopy. We must better protect these individuals, while continuing to promote yearly colorectal cancer screenings. 

Each ask is a tall order in itself, but with personal stories, as well as the passionate staff partners and volunteers, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is making great strides each year. It is our mission to further our success in the fight against cancer this week in Washington, D.C. at Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. 

Leadership Summit and Lobby Day were unlike any other event I have attended. On the first two days of our visit, over 700 volunteers from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Guam gathered to learn about the legislative asks and get prepared for the meetings with congressmen and women. Volunteers attended many breakout sessions where we split into groups based on experience and met peers from all walks of life. These meetings helped us gather stories to share with our lawmakers and bring back to our communities.

Lobby Day itself was a day full of emotions: power, hope, and a bit of nervousness. Meeting with lawmakers can be intimidating at first, but they turned out to be extremely receptive to all of our asks. Our personal stories helped bring reality to the legislation and proved our dedication to the cause. The day was busy and involved a lot of walking around and navigating the buildings, but was one of the most rewarding experiences we had all been a part of.

After Lobby Day, we were able to come back as a united front to share our lobbying stories. While varying states had different outcomes, no one felt defeated after leaving their meetings. We were all inspired and full of hope for the future after meeting with our lawmakers and sharing our stories. Some newcomers, like me, were able to witness the strong bonds that our veteran volunteers have developed with longstanding congressmen and women.

Lobby Day was an unforgettable experience that taught me so much about fellow volunteers, ACS CAN, and the policy aspect of healthcare legislation. Seeing so many dedicated volunteers come together for one cause is incredibly moving and inspiring. I believe all volunteers should have the opportunity to attend a local or federal Lobby Day and get motivated by volunteers near and far.

To get involved or learn more about ACS CAN and their mission, please visit acscan.org

Blog written by Allison Johnson (WRCLT) and Alessia Riccio (NRCLT)