4-10-13 to 4-14-13
You may not believe it but as much as I love being on a stage or on TV, it’s hard for me to be recognized for things that I do from my heart. I got tons of practice this week and I am so humbled and honored to be recognized for doing what my heart sings.
I am sitting on NJ Transit on my way home from Manhattan and just have to take this hour to reflect on the many blessings that have been bestowed on me this spring. When I was on my journey to India, I received two emails just days apart telling me of two amazing honors that ended up happening with in 3 days of each other this spring.
The first honor was being named as one of the inaugural REAL award recipients in the chronic disease category. (www.therealawards.com, www.savethechildren.com). I was nominated for this award by Diane Gesualdi but was not aware of it until a few weeks into the process. She found out about it from her son whose company happened to help design the web contest. He thought she might want to nominate someone but forgot to tell me that she had chosen me. This nomination came directly after The Philly Health Hero contest so I could not go back to asking friends and family to vote for me daily on Facebook. Instead, I kissed it up to God and made it to the point where I received an interview. Never expecting to be chosen for this amazing honor, I was simply delighted to be nominated.
Well, I won in the chronic disease category. (I was nominated in the general health category, so I wondered if they made up the category so I would fit into it better??)
On April 10th I headed to Washington D.C. after giving a talk to Pennsbury High School’s Wink4Pink Club (An amazing club that raises awareness for breast cancer and has funded breast cancer charities such as HCF in the past).
Traffic on I-95 was wicked! Dr Catherine Baker was driving her fab Volvo (90-degree record-breaking day, traffic jam, accidents, and NO AIR CONDITIONING). My thighs were hermetically sealed together when we arrived in DC as I had on a dress and was a total sweat monster.
We were supposed to make it to the hotel by 1130 to head to the White House for a briefing on global health and where initiatives stand with Save the Children. We missed the buses but that did not stop us! We pulled up to the entrance and I got out as Stephen, Catherine, and Julia found a place to park. We made it in with about 10 minutes to spare and were able to participate in the briefing.
Although it was a cool experience, President Obama’s aide, Roberto Rodriguez, did not even begin to answer my question about how the government and the “Unaffordable“ Care Act, as I call it, plans to deal with the fact that young adults who want to go into medicine will never be able to pay off their loans. The interest on medical school loans is 9% and the costs are through the roof. He must not have liked my question as he gave some half baked answer about how states will have to start picking up the tab (BLAH, BLAH, BLAH). At least I raised awareness in the room for the pressing issue of our future physician shortage (Shame that everyone will have coverage and there will not be enough physicians to treat them!!).
That evening we participated in the welcome reception and Stephen Pope, my son Tom’s BFF, got to meet some important people for his future. He is leaving for Mozambique in a few weeks and made some vital connections for his future and his next 28 months in South Africa.
We then took off for a tour of the cherry blossoms, which so kindly waited an extra two weeks to come out and bless us for our time there. My evening was cut short when I realized I had to drive to Dulles to pick up my older son who was flying into join us. By 10:30, all the DuPrees were save and sound at the Hyatt.
Thursday morning, my day began with disgruntled sons and husband wondering why they were sitting in a conference for Save The Children learning about how to go to Capital Hill and advocate for issues that had ‘nothing to do with them’. They admitted that they felt ‘duped’ as they were under the impression they were there as I was being honored. Truth be told, they were partly correct as I really had no idea what the Save the Children Advocacy Summit was really about, I just knew that we were visiting the Hill and discussing an issue regarding kids (both domestic and abroad). My boys were pretty testy until I received a text and a call from our amazing Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who offered to meet us for lunch and some face-to-face time. Suddenly, the day was not so bad and the thought of missing classes for this was sounding better.
Congressman Fitzpatrick knew that my sister and father were en route from York, PA but had hit some traffic. He was trying to make my family’s day special and he went above and beyond to create an experience that my father, Irv Baughman, and my sons will talk about forever.
We had started lunch before they arrived, as Congressman Fitzpatrick had to go back to the floor to vote on some pending legislation. We took the opportunity during lunch to discuss Resolution 135 in the House regarding Front Line Health Workers. Congressman Fitzpatrick had already signed on after being told about it a few weeks earlier. We then discussed Senator Toomey’s Gun Bill regarding background checks and Congressman Fitzpatrick wanted to know what we thought (all thumbs up at the table).
When Ann and Dad arrived Congressman Fitzpatrick came outside with me and had them go in to begin eating and he parked my Dad’s car. My dad, the history and political junkie, will forever be able to brag that a sitting Congressman parked his car! At this point it was 1 PM and he had to go to the Hill, but offered to give us a tour of the Capitol after hours if we were interested. All in favor? 8 yea and 0 nay, the motion carried.
From this point, the day flew. We had three appointments with three additional legislators. Congressman Scott Perry (R- PA), Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) and Congressman Pat Toomey (R- PA). All three meetings could not have gone better as we were able to educate each office about the legislation and its ramifications for global and domestic heath care. My sons and husband were able to see our government in action. At each office we were able to connect and potentially create change, ten minutes with a voice can impact the world.
At 4:30 we made our way to the Hart Building, 9th floor for The REAL Awards Ceremony. I was so blessed to have my family,friends, patients, Congressman, and spiritual family in attendance. All of the recipients of the REAL awards had done such amazing things and they all deserved to be honored. I was so honored to be a part of that group.
Congressman Fitzpatrick came to present me with my award and an American Flag that had been flown over the Capitol Building that day. It was yet another unexpected gesture.
Then, the best part of the 48 hours began. We started our personal ‘after hours’ history lesson as we walked through the Capitol Building with our educators, Irv Baughman and Mike Fitzpatrick. It began with my Dad being chauffeured to the entrance in the Congressman’s VW. My Dad is 84 and he is just not as spry as he used to be so the ride was so appreciated. The distances between buildings can be trying if you are ‘mature’ and tire easily. Yet more bragging fodder for Irv!
Over the next hour I watched, listened and experienced our Capitol in a way that I had never been privy to on my prior visits. Imagine being in the rotunda of the Capitol without all of the people! The history and stories that were imparted to us were simply divine. Congressman Fitzpatrick not only knows American history, he knows things about the Capitol that simply intrigued us. He took us to the Speakers’ balcony, the Hall of Statues (the original Congressional Hall), and the Congressional Women’s Reading Room, thanks to Virginia Fox (R-NC).
I think that the Discovery Channel would have loved to be on our tour and I wish I had videotaped the ‘Capitol hour’ as it was PRICELESS. My father had an exceptional day, and, at 84, to give your parent a priceless memory is a big deal. A true public servant, Mike Fitzpatrick made my REAL Award day into a REAL experience that my father, friends, and family will never forget. I always knew he was a great man, but hearing his passion for history, his dedication to serving his district and his desire to be a positive change agent in a some what dysfunctional Washington D.C., he is even higher on my list of great human beings with whom I am proud to walk this planet!