Miss FOX47/Bounce TV here! In July, I had the blessed opportunity of traveling to our Nation’s Capitol for the very first time, on behalf of the 31st Annual NAAF Conference! The National Alopecia Areata Foundation, appointed me as Legislative Liaison for the state of Michigan! This means that I will be representing our state, in regards to Alopecia Awareness, as well as working to help pass a Bill that will benefit hair loss patients.
Friday July 15, 2016, was Alopecia Areata Advocacy Day. Over 500 people who attended the NAAF conference, walked to Capitol Hill in part of making Legislative history. I was chosen to lead the Michigan group during this time. Meeting with the Senate and House offices of Michael D. Bishop, Debbie Stabenow and Tim Walberg, just to name a few. The purpose of these visits, were to get congressional representatives to co-sponsor the H.R. 4989 Bill. This will cover Cranial Prosthetics under Medicaid insurance, for children and families who cannot afford this necessity. All the while, working to have increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
My mother and I were asked to be volunteers throughout this event, so we had the chance of meeting some incredible people from all over the world. Yes, all over the world! It is an International conference as well! Now I have friends in the United Kingdom and Ireland! Even famous moguls such as Dallas Mavericks’ Basketball Player, Charlie Villanueva and the Pittsburgh Steelers own, Ryan Shazier, took pictures and signed autographs for everyone. Ryan was the keynote speaker for Sunday afternoon, closing out the conference.
Throughout this four-day conference, NAAF also gave everyone the opportunity of learning more about Alopecia and how to cope with this disease. Advice was given on how to become a leader in local communities and spreading awareness. Seminars and classes were created for every topic and age group, including how to draw eyebrows and how to apply eyelashes, for women and young ladies!
I had the opportunity of sharing my story on being an Alopecian and overcoming adversity, during a panel for young adults. Shortly after I finished and the panel discussion ended, so many individuals came up to me, including a new friend of mine from Durham, North Carolina. He shared with me his story and also stated, “I do not think you understand how much of an impact you have made on everyone here. Keep sharing your story, you are going to help so many people.” It was a true blessing for having the confidence to speak on something that I was so ashamed of for years.
For the rest of this conference, tons of fun activities were planned. Friday Night was ‘NAAF Night’, at the Washington Nationals baseball stadium! We had the chance of touring ‘The District’, by going on a Moonlight Tour around Washington D.C.! Visiting some the District’s historic sights, such as the Lincoln Memorial, Union Station and the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Closing out the conference, was a
“neon-tastic” and retro 80s dance at the hotel! Everyone got the chance to dress up in 80s attire and danced the night away. Prizes were also given for the best dancers!
This was a life-changing and unforgettable conference. I never thought that it would take me traveling to Washington D.C., just to get out of my comfort zone. Eternally grateful I am, at making a difference, making history and representing something that is larger than me. Not only is this my platform, this is the life in which I live everyday. Now, I can boldly help others in overcoming their insecurities by confidently owning what I have. This is just the beginning of something incredible. I am NOT my hair.