Next, we headed inside the United States Capitol Building for a tour of the Congressional House Floor. A special thank you to former Congressman Gregg Harper, who served as the NFXF personal tour guide! We sat in the congressional seats. Yes, the very same seats that our representatives are seated in when they vote on legislation. We learned of neat historical facts, such as in 1954 when four Puerto Rican Nationals fired shots onto the house floor. There is still a bullet hole in one of the podiums on the house floor. And the backs of the congressional seats are bulletproof. I gave the seat back a good hard knock.
After the Congressional House Floor tour, we were on our way to our meetings with our representatives. Most of the advocates had an identical meeting load with their state senators. There are two Senators for each state. Advocates also met with their Congressperson who represented their district. Each state has a different number of State Representatives; this is based on population density.
As we headed to our meetings, I thought, how will I find my way out? There were many hallways, and they all looked similar. Finally, we went down an escalator to the underground transportation tunnel. The tunnel is only accessible by staff. Talk about VIP treatment. Thanks again, former Congressman Gregg Harper! We rode the train in the underground transportation tunnel, which was fun. I rode with Miles and his family. Miles is a self-advocate. Miles loves trains. His dad David T. was a first-time attendee and all smiles. David T. said if it were up to Miles, they would ride the train all day!
I was accompanied by fellow Fragile X parent, Georgia resident Kimberly W. and her son Andrew. Andrew is a self-advocate. Andrew was a trooper. He took time off from his job at the Home Depot to participate in Advocacy Day 2023 on Capitol Hill. With all the preparation, I still had nervous jitters. We arrived at our first meeting. The office was full of busy energy. Phones ringing, calls answered, and emails headed out. An intern called us to meet with the representative’s staffer. The staffer represented the senator or congressperson if they could not attend. I said my first word, and the rest flowed. It was just a conversation. This is a conversation I had many times before during my advocacy journey as a Fragile X parent. After the first meeting, the rest were a breeze. The day was long and rewarding.
At the end of Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, I shook hands with former Congressman Gregg Harper. Who then told me he was proud of me. And to never place a ceiling on those affected by a Fragile X-associated condition.
Becoming active with the National Fragile X Foundation is very rewarding. There are many unique ways to accompany the NFXF during your journey with Fragile X. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, fundraise to support NFXF programming, advocate with the NFXF, and share your journey with us by submitting an Xtraordinary Individual.