Karla Hansen of Holstein, Iowa recently attended the PAN forum in Washington, D.C. for four days. Karla was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease six years ago. She is the Iowa State Coordinator for Parkinson's Action Network (PAN).
The Parkinson's Action Network is the unified voice of the Parkinson's disease community-advocating for more than one million Americans and their families.
In addion to PAN's work on National Institutes of Health funding and research, the Parkinson's community is a powerful voice on many crucial issuses including Parkinson's-specific programs at the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, Food and Drug Administration drug approval issues, Health and Human Services programs, and PAN's continuing struggle to achieve research freedom for the promise of embryonic stem cells.
PAN has established a Grassroots Advocacy Program that includes over 150 volunteer leaders. These coordinators direct a network of several thousand advocates who take part in actions that include calling, writing, or e-mailin elected officials.
PAN represents all major national PD orginazations including the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and the Parkinson's Alliance Unity Walk.
PAN bases its operations in Washington, D.C. less than two miles from Capitol Hill.
Karla attended several workshops and listened to a number of scientists doing research for PD. On the third day of the forum, she along with 250 other Parkinson patients went to Capital Hill and met with the local State Representatives and Sentators so they could put a face with a patient. Karla met with five Iowa representatives and both Senators and/or their aides. While visiting with each of them, she asked them if they would sign a Congressional declaration in support of $55 million for the Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Research Parkinson's program?" Of the five Iowa Representatives, only Steve King would not sign it. Neither Senator signed.
She also asked the Senators and Representatives if they would support increased funding for FDA Critical Path drug development research.
Finally, she asked each Senator or Representative to support a $1.9 billion increase for the National Institute of Health for research in Fiscal Year 2000 - a 6.6% increase over current funding.
Karla started a support group in Holstein a year ago, and serves on the Iowa Chapter American Parkinson's Disease Association Board of Directors.
There are 35 Parkinson's Disease Support Groups in the state of Iowa. She travels to support groups and service organizations around the state as a volunteer advocate.