Congratulations and THANK YOU to JoAnne Gunther and her grandson Billy Gunther for being November’s Advocates of the Month!
Earlier this year, JoAnne and Billy, wife and grandson of William Gunther, Jr. who passed away from multiple myeloma, participated in OVAC’s (One Voice Against Cancer) lobby day on behalf of the IMF.
They took their passion for our cause and their drive for a cure to Washington to fight for legislation important to them and the myeloma community. With support from the IMF Advocacy team and OVAC, they met with the staff of Senator Barbara Mikulski (DEM-MD), Senator Ben Cardin (DEM-MD), and Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (DEM-MD).
They, along with 5 others from Maryland, requested funding for medical research at the NIH, funding for the CDC cancer programs, and an increasing in funding for the FDA. JoAnne and Billy also willingly shared their personal story.
We asked Billy, our youngest advocate to date and someone completely new to this experience to share his thoughts about this day.
In His Own Words…
“On behalf of my grandfather William Carroll Gunther Jr, I was an advocate for the IMF at this year’s OVAC (One Voice Against Cancer) lobby day. People from all over the United States gathered to tell their stories to members of Congress. The day before the lobby day we had an all day training session to teach us what to say, and how to answer questions that may have been asked of us.
During that time there was a 30 to 45 minute period where people could get up and share their story with everyone. I will never forget the stories that were told on that day. So many of those stories were heartbreaking and made me think a little bit more about life itself.
When we went to Capitol Hill, my grandmother, Meghan and I gathered with 4 other people from Maryland to tell our stories. When we went to speak, I was very nervous about what I was going to say. I didn’t want to mess up my opportunity to tell the legislators exactly what I wanted to.
However, when we went into the meetings it was not as bad as I thought it would be. They listened to our stories and why we were there. I remember being in one office, and after we told our story, the congressional aide said his grandfather had died of cancer and he shared his story. It made it a lot easier to realize that he understood the difficulty cancer patients and their families go through.
I feel OVAC lobby day was very successful and if I have another chance to go and tell my story and lobby on behalf of the IMF I will.
William Carroll Gunther, IV