NRTS backs wheelchair users

Monday, July 31, 2017

WASHINGTON – When wheelchair users rolled onto Capitol Hill in June to advocate for a number of issues, they had official support from NRRTS for the first time.
NRRTS was a “Capitol” sponsor for the United Spinal Association-organized Roll on Capitol Hill, a $20,000 commitment.
“As the (manufacturer, provider and user communities) work together more, we saw this as an opportunity to show our cohesiveness,” said Weesie Walker, executive director of NRRTS. “We’re all working together to support users—we’re really proud of that.”
NRRTS didn’t have $20,000 in its budget, so it launched a grassroots donation campaign to help cover the cost of its sponsorship. Before the event, it added a check box on its registrant renewal forms and it set up a page on its website for donations. It also spread the word on social media.
All in all, NRRTS was able to raise 35% to 40% of the cost of its sponsorship from individual donations, with manufacturers also kicking in a portion, Walker said.
“The notion that individuals are giving their own money to support this effort says a lot,” she said. “This is where they believe the most powerful message comes from—the users.”
They may believe in the message, but not all of them have the time or the resources to fly to Washington, D.C., to personally take part in the event, Walker said.
“A donation was their surrogate way of going to D.C.,” she said.
To acknowledge their participation, NRRTS included the names of donors as part of its exhibit at Roll on Capitol Hill. It also plans to list their names in an upcoming issue of its Directions Magazine, Walker said.
“This really impacts Congress—not this group and that group, but all groups,” she said.
The addition of NRRTS to this year’s event is “valuable,” said Alexandra Bennewith, vice president of government relations for United Spinal, who recently attended the National CRT Conference hosted by NRRTS and NCART.
“All stakeholders who value the consumer voice are welcome to join our efforts,” she said. “For this event, consumers are the focus, and they understand that, but we’re all working together.”