Feeling alone, she wrote and sent her story to a local newspaper to connect with others living with lupus. At their first meeting, 65 people showed up. They formed a support group called Lupus and Empowering Community Support (LACES). Then she reached out to the Georgia Chapter of the Lupus Foundation. But she didn’t stop there.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2019
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She decided to make some noise. She called her representative in the Georgia General Assembly: “Hi, I’m Kim Schofield, and I have lupus.” No response. She visited her representative: “Hi, I’m Kim Schofield. I called yesterday, and I still have lupus.” Her activism put lupus into the public eye. Georgia’s lawmakers started to pay attention and passed some laws to help. “It wasn’t moving fast enough for me,” she said.
She found a new career working at Emory University with the Georgia Lupus Registry. In 2012, she was appointed under the Obama administration to the Federal Health IT Committee, making health recommendations and Rules to Congress.
In 2017, she was elected to the Georgia General Assembly as a representative to the state House of Representatives. In her first session, she was able to secure appropriations for lupus research and initiatives.
Speaking from her personal experience, Rep. Schofield said, “One person can make a difference. Don’t walk out of here and do nothing when people are counting on you.”
Her work continues. As all three speakers said, you can make a difference, too. Visit the ACR’s Legislative Action Center to send a pre-written email to Congress. Invest in RheumPAC, the nonpartisan political action committee established by the ACR to help elect and support pro-rheumatology candidates. Join the effort, and help magnify rheumatology’s message.
A medical editor and writer based in San Jose, Calif., Keri Losavio has been the editor of The Rheumatologist since 2014.