The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) has announced that Virtual Advocacy Day 2018 is coming soon on September 26, 2018. Virtual Advocacy Day is IFFGD’s annual day on which it encourages U.S. citizens to contact their members of the federal House of Representatives in support of the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act. (HR 1187)

For this year, IFFGD is trying an additional strategy and asking for adults and children with functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders, families, friends, and other supporters to write letters and draw pictures about the experiences of living with FGIMDs and the need to support FGIMD research through the Act. Please send them by Friday, September 21, 2018 to IFFGD’s Washington, DC liaison, Peter Herzog at herzog@hmcw.org or mail them to 507 Capitol Court NE, Suite 200, Washington DC 20002. Each letter or picture will be hand-delivered to the senders’ individual Member of the House of Representatives to ask for co-sponsorship of HR 1187 in time for Virtual Advocacy Day on September 26. Self-advocates and family members and friends are also encouraged to follow up with a phone call to the Representative on that day. See IFFGD’s Virtual Advocacy Day 2018 page for more information and sample letters and phone calls. If your Representative is listed below as already sponsoring or co-sponsoring HR 1187 please consider writing and/or calling to say thank you. Several have also supported previous versions that did not pass through multiple previous Congresses, showing interest in our needs for several years. for a longer version of this post, with more details on HR 1187, click here.

As of September 2018, the following 17 Representatives from 10 states officially support HR 1187: Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5), who is the initial sponsor, and co-sponsors, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-2),Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2), Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20), Representative Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3),Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Representative Andre Carson (D-IN-7), Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Representative John Faso (R-NY-19), and Representative David Price (D-NC-4), Representative Gerald (Gerry) Connolly (D-VA-11), and Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7) and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8). All others need advocacy to gain their support.

Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.

As irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is the most common functional gastrointestinal and motility disorder, IBS Impact strongly encourages readers to join with self-advocates with other FGIMDs for Virtual Advocacy Day. Amplifying our voices as FGIMD-affected people, along with others in similar situations, can increase awareness of HR 1187 and our needs to the public and to Congressional members with the power to help our community.

Posted: September 19, 2018