The place: Washington, D.C.
Setting: Hotel elevator.
Subject: President The Donald.
He struts into the elevator.
“Good morning, Mr. President. I know your latest approval ratings definitely are not — but are you going up?”
He smirks a yes.
A classic business situation: the elevator pitch — 60 seconds to deliver a clear, concise message to the most powerful person in the world.
Never would happen. But if it did, what would I say?
This fantasy was sparked by my participation in the National Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago.
A local tri-county contingent of us advocates, political-types, caregivers and service-providers joined 1,200 more like-minded folks to focus on educating and influencing legislators voting on impending decisions about the critical issue of Alzheimer’s research, care and support services.
From guest of honor Maria Shriver to the all-star roster of guest speakers, everyone shouldered a burdensome story about losing a senior loved one far too early.
Although I’ve rarely spent time inside the Beltway, the flight east allowed me time to reflect on our national political arena.
I remember a Python, Monty that is, once joking: “A lot has been said about politics; some of it complimentary, but most of it accurate.”
But when we arrived in the nation’s capital, it quickly became a passionate game of numbers:
$414 million is the amount of additional funds needed along with the $350 million passed by Congress — but not yet in the NIH’s coffers — to meet the goal of preventing or effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.
2018 is the fiscal year in which the $414 million will be needed.
From now until 10-01-2017 is the time to influence our representatives to vote yes on these sorely needed appropriations.
5 is the number of “big diseases” — HIV, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Zero: While Alzheimer’s is included on that list, it is the only one with zero progress being made toward a cure. Not enough funds for research.
1 out of 2 is the number of baby boomers who reach 85 will develop Alzheimer’s if our current trajectory is not altered.
200 is the combined number of calls, emails or tweets our local elected officials need to receive to indicate an issue is a hot topic with their constituents.
Now back to my elevator fantasy. Let’s hope I don’t get the shaft.
“So Rona, what brings you here?” POTUS ponders.
“Mr. President, there isn’t a person in this country who’s not haunted by a senior story about a spouse, family member, friend or neighbor.”
“I’m told your father, Fred, had Alzheimer’s for six years and passed away in 1999.”
“Mr. President, during your campaign you promised Alzheimer’s would be a priority.”
“Is that really true? Or are you going to be yet another politician who ‘never believes what he says, but is always taken for his word’?”
“Knowing what my father meant to me, and what your father meant to you, I’d like to believe you will keep your promise.”
Until next time … keep thinking the good thoughts.
— For more than 30 years, Rona Barrett was a pioneering entertainment reporter, commentator and producer. Since 2000, she has focused her attention and career on the growing crisis of housing and support for our aging population. She is the founder and CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation, the catalyst behind Santa Ynez Valley’s first affordable senior housing, the Golden Inn & Village. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are her own.