When I was asked to continue in my role as National Ambassador for MDA in 2017, I had to think about it for about a nanosecond before I gave my answer. Yes, of course! So it’s official: I’ve re-upped for another tour.
2016 will be a hard act to follow, but now that I’m a registered frequent flyer and have a year of ambassadorship under my belt, I can’t wait to try to top it. In fact, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of experiences I’m looking forward to in 2017. Join me, won’t you?
1. Continue adventuring around the country
2016 took me to places I’d only dreamed of travelling. Last year, as you probably read, I gallivanted around Manhattan; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Las Vegas; California; Chicago; Milwaukee; Georgia; Des Moines; and even attended a Muscle Walk in my home state of Colorado.
Where will my travels take me this year? My calendar is just beginning to fill, but I’m thrilled that I’ll be returning to some of my favorite places, like Washington, D.C. in April for our first ever Advocacy Conference, and Milwaukee in May.
Where to after that? There is still so much of this country to see and I’m eager to check out a few new places. I would jump at the opportunity to visit the northwest coast. Are you there, San Francisco? It’s me, Joe. Boston and Nashville are also on my list of must-sees. Alas, I suppose I’ll leave the trip planning to the pros. Geography has never been my strength. Just ask my mom, who, when I was in 7th grade, insisted I attend summer school after I made a comment about Malibu being in Florida.
2. Chill with more rad people
My travels in 2016 not only introduced me to new places; they introduced me to new faces. As a certified social butterfly, I enjoy spending time with all different types of people — especially new friends. It was so much fun meeting different members of the MDA family. As an organization we are so lucky to have such a strong community of sponsors, partners, staff, supporters and, of course, individuals and families we serve. The work that we are able to do to help so many people is only made possible by this amazing team.
Every person I meet on the road I carry with me, and there are a few people whom I can’t wait to see again in 2017. I’m especially looking forward to an event in May, and although it’s still a few months off, I’ve already started shopping for the perfect leather jacket for the annual MDA Black-n-Blue Ball. This unique event was one of the highlights of my year, and I can’t wait to catch up with my BFF Karen Davidson of Harley-Davidson Motor Company and thank her – and the thousands of dealers and riders – who have done so much over the years to further MDA’s mission.
3. Make more progress and Live Unlimited moments possible FOR EVERYONE
So, 2017, I know you’ll take me to great places and bring so many wonderful people into my life, but what I’m most stoked for is all of the progress I believe you’ll bring the MDA community. 2016 was historic: the FDA approved not one, but two drug therapies for DMD and SMA – something MDA has worked for more than 65 years to make a reality. The work is nowhere near finished, though. The FDA is expected to rule soon on another treatment for DMD. And very soon, MDA will announce a new round of research grants that will fund the best science and scientists working in the field today. Who knows, maybe one of those grants will lead to the next blockbuster therapy? There’s so much to look forward to: more programs to support the young adult community, new comprehensive care and additional specialty providers at MDA Care Centers, new opportunities to get involved with MDA as advocates and community leaders. And let’s not forget that this summer will bring the triumphant return of Live Unlimited. What’s in store for us this year? We’ll just have to wait and see. But I know it will be epic.
So, I’d like to invite you to join me on this great adventure. Throughout the year, I’ll be sharing with you news from my travels. And I hope to get to meet as many of you in person this year as possible.
My bags are packed and ready – so let’s hit the road!