At our 2004 Conference, a medical director from one of the pharmaceuticals said to me,
You know, your challenge as this meeting continues to grow, will be to make sure the patients aren't left out. The doctors and nurses will continue to come. the companies will continue to come. It's the patients' role that has to be protected.That was followed by a board review at the end of the Conference, where Pat Paton, one of our founders said:
“While we’re congratulating ourselves on another great meeting, we shouldn’t forget that we were founded for patients. We have to challenge ourselves to grow their participation.”
Wereally took those messages to heart. The last two Conferences saw a great growth in scholarships. The commitments rose from $55,000 to $160,000. That's the largest conference scholarship program any of us are aware of...and in a disease with a population measured in the low tens of thousands, not in millions.
Well, we've started raising funds again and Pfizer and Actelion have both funded Community of Hope scholarships. Our members are stepping forward, with the Barbara Smith Endowment, the Michelle Carr Memorial and the Mason Hoffman Fund already in place. I know more will come..and there's one that I'm particularly proud of.
Our staff decided that they want to participate as a team at the Baltimore Fun Walk on November 7. Seventeen have signed up and, with the permission of the event organizers, they decided to target the funds they raise to Conference scholarships.
Go Team PHA!