PAN Announces Louis Fishman and Murray Charters Awards Honorees


Louis Fishman Advocacy Award  
Ann “AJ” Wasson 

PAN is excited to present AJ Wasson with the 2013 Louis Fishman Advocacy Award.  Wasson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1995 at the age of 36, and began working as a volunteer advocate for the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) in 2000.  She currently serves as a California Assistant State Director and sits on PAN’s Grassroots Advisory Board.

Formerly employed as an editor, librarian, and children’s book author, AJ has since put her passion for reading and writing into her advocacy work.  Along with her husband, Greg, she has traveled the United States for PAN, speaking to support groups about living with Parkinson’s and the importance of advocacy in fighting for better treatments and a cure.

“Working with PAN is the best civics course you’ll ever take,” said Wasson.  “Being an advocate for federal research funding and strong policies that support an improved quality of life helps give me some measure of control over this disease, and my life.”  

PAN CEO, Amy Comstock Rick, said, “AJ’s thirteen years with PAN shows real dedication and commitment to the cause.  She is an active advocate – speaking to support groups, educating about the federal government’s role in and responsibility to the Parkinson’s community, and communicating regularly with her Members of Congress about the importance of research funding.  We are grateful for her work and are honored to present this award to her.”

About the Louis Fishman Advocacy Award
The Louis Fishman Advocacy Award was established in 1996 by a gift from the Louis Fishman estate.  Mr. Fishman requested that his memory be honored by recognizing others for their commitment and perseverance.  It is awarded each year to a PAN grassroots leader who exhibits exemplary outreach efforts in advocacy at the local level.

Murray Charters Award for Outstanding Service to the Parkinson’s Community
Israel Robledo

PAN is excited to present Israel Robledo with the 2013 Murray Charters Award for Outstanding Service to the Parkinson’s Community.  Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007 at age 42, Robledo has been involved with the PAN since 2008 and currently serves as the organization’s Texas State Director.  He also serves on PAN’s Grassroots Advisory Board.  Israel is a bilingual resource teacher in Midland, Texas.

In addition to his volunteer policy advocacy work with the PAN, Robledo serves as co-chair of the program committee and chair of the subcommittee on advocacy for the World Parkinson Congress in Montreal in October 2013.  He has also served as a research grant reviewer for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which was established as part of the Affordable Care Act.  Israel shared his advocacy advice in a recent video produced by PAN, called “The Power of Advocacy.”

“Working as a volunteer advocate with PAN has given me a way to educate government leaders on why they need to fund Parkinson’s disease research,” said Robledo.  “The federal government is the single largest funder of Parkinson’s research in the world, and it’s important to me, my family, and the 500,000 to 1.5 million Americans living with Parkinson’s that funding continues to happen.”

PAN CEO, Amy Comstock Rick, said, “Israel is nothing short of inspirational to advocates everywhere.  He is deft at turning everyday conversations into learning moments, and has made great strides in educating the Texas delegation in Congress about Parkinson’s disease and why funding for research is so important.  He is a community leader and a strong communicator.”

About the Murray Charters Award for Outstanding Service to the Parkinson’s Community
The Murray Charters Award for Outstanding Service to the Parkinson’s Community was created in 2004 and recognizes an advocate who not only engages the community, but also raises awareness of Parkinson’s disease through media and other communications outreach tools. The late Murray Charters of Vancouver, B.C. was the first to receive the award.

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