30 seconds

“…when you play at this level there’s no ordinary venue.”

One Night in Bangkok, from the musical Chess, 1986

Legislative meetings can occur in an instant. I don’t mean just not lasting very long, but quicker than you can imagine. You almost have to be talking – and making your point – as you walk in the door because there is no guarantee how much time you may have.

Is this rapid pace fair? Probably not – but it is the way things are done, so if you plan to plead your case to your legislator, you had better learn how Congress functions. Your objectives are to 1) to make sure the Legislator knows that you are a constituent – Members of the House of Representatives are especially interested in hearing the concerns of the people they represent, since they are up for election every two years; 2) make an impression by telling your story; 3) make sure the Legislator knows what he can do for you (vote on legislation, fund a project, etc.); and 4) leave some resource material behind that they can refer to later. And because you don’t really know how much time you will have, you need to be prepared to do all this in 30 seconds.

Could you do it?

My 30 second story is below. I’ve moved it further down on the page so you can think about your own story, and then compare yours to mine.

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My name is Funky Heart, and I live in Funkytown, South Carolina. I was
born with a Congenital Heart Defect back in 1966 – I survived only
because I have great doctors and parents who would turn the world
upside down to give me a chance to live.

CDC’s new National Congenital Heart Surveillance System will compile
data on heart defects for researchers to sift through. Hopefully this
will lead to longer, better lives for those of us who have a heart
defect. All it needs is for Congress to fund it.

Everyone needs a hero – here’s your chance to actually be a hero: Fund the new Congenital Heart Defect initiatives.

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3 Responses to “30 seconds”

  1. Kristine Brite Says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’m trying to write/think of something and am a bit stuck. I hear that Cora didn’t “count” before with CDC numbers, so I think that’s the angle I’m going to take.

    • Steve Says:

      I hate to say that until now, NO ONE has “counted” with CDC. Until President Obama signed the healthcare bill recently, they had never been instructed to specifically gather and study Congenital Heart Defect statistics.

      And really they STILL don’t count. The new law authorizes the CHD programs, but there is no funding for it. And money makes the world go ’round. That’s why we’re going to DC, to try to convince Congress to authorize funding for the program.

  2. Karen Thurston Chavez Says:

    I don’t like politicians much. (I know, most people don’t. But my dad was a TV and radio reporter for the Florida Legislature and I grew up watching him play his favorite game: exposing politicians’ dark-corridor deals and deep-pocket “friends.”)

    If I were going to Lobby Day this year, this would be my 30-second-story. And even though I won’t be there, maybe I’ll contact Rep. Allen Boyd and Sens. George LeMieux and Bill Nelson and tell them my story via e-mail.

    “My 6-year-old son has an unusual and hard-to-identify congenital heart defect. He was sick for a year before doctors figured out what was wrong. Better research and better data about heart defects would have made a difference in my son’s first year. CDC’s new National Congenital Heart Surveillance System will compile data on heart defects for researchers to sift through. All it needs is for Congress to fund it. The two doctors who found my son’s heart defect, the surgeon who fixed it, and the doctor who monitors him are our heroes. Fund the new Congenital Heart Defect initiatives and you’ll be among our heroes, too.”

    Good luck at Lobby Day, Steve!

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