In June, we were honored to accompany the Ullom family out to Washington, D.C., for the Children’s Hospital Association Family Advocacy Day. The Ulloms – Suzanne, Dan, Annika and Shelby – joined families from across the U.S. to advocate for funding and programming for children’s hospitals and kids with special health care needs. The Ulloms used their experience at Children’s Minnesota to educate and inform our U.S. senators and representatives about the importance of Medicaid and medical-education funding.
“It was important for us to go to D.C. in order to tell our Shelby’s story and inform our legislators that programs and funding that support children’s health care do make a difference,” Dan Ullom said. “Without specialized health care, Shelby likely would not have survived.”
By telling their story to our senators and representatives, the Ulloms helped put a face on the issues that are important to us. They were wonderful ambassadors for Children’s.
Before our big day of meetings, we had a lot of fun at the Patriotic Dinner Celebration hosted by CHA. There was a live band, lots of dancing, caricatures, face painting and games. And no celebration would be complete without ice cream and trading-card exchanges! Everyone left exhausted but inspired for our day of meetings on Capitol Hill.
The next day, we visited Capitol Hill and met with members from Minnesota’s congressional delegation, including Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Erik Paulsen. We also met with staff from Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum’s offices.
We were lucky to have beautiful weather for a day filled with a lot of walking to important meetings.
“Getting a behind-the-scenes look and an opportunity to interface with our national lawmakers was a very special experience,” Dan Ullom said. “Getting to be a part of maintaining or changing policy with our story is a very unique opportunity.”
Sen. Klobuchar made an extra effort to meet with us and a patient family from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare during her busy day at the Capitol. Even though we didn’t get to see her office in the Senate, taking the underground train to the Capitol and our behind-the-scenes tour made it special.
It’s not all work in D.C. There still was a lot of time left to play and see the sights. Despite access to wonderful museums and monuments, Shelby’s favorite thing was the hotel pool. The National Zoo came in a close second.
Kelly Wolfe is public policy director of advocacy and child health policy at Children’s Minnesota.