If you’ve thought about visiting Philadelphia lately, it probably didn’t occur to you to walk there. But for the members of Melanie’s March, hoofing the approximately 135 miles from Philly to Washington was the only way to show they are serious about health care reform.
The small group of Pennsylvanians rallied with at least 90 supporters at the University of Maryland College Park campus Tuesday evening to encourage Congress to compromise quickly at President Obama’s health care summit Thursday.
Melanie’s March was named after Melanie Shouse, who died of breast cancer after she was unable to afford health insurance that would cover the treatment.
“Everyone that we meet knows a story, has their own story … about how they couldn’t get health care,” said Marc Stier, who organized Melanie’s March. “It’s not a problem for poor people. It’s not a problem for rich people. It cuts across the board.”
Participants in the eight-day walk included friends of Shouse, their supporters, and those with their own stories of health problems as uninsured patients.
Most of the marchers did not walk for a full eight days. There was always a safety vehicle, and some participants went back to Philadelphia at times to go to work.
College Park was the 12th city the group has rallied in since Feb. 17, and Washington will be the last.
Rion Dennis, the political director of Progressive Maryland, told attendees to take out their cell phones and call Congress. He pulled his own out, too.
“Thank [your member of congress],” said Dennis. “And tell them to tell [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid to pass the damn bill.”
Although fewer than 10 people made the walk from Philadelphia, at least 500 have signed up to walk the home stretch from Union Station to Congress.
Advocacy groups have also created a virtual march for those who can’t make it to the capital. This allows the groups to create and send letters to participants’ senators in the individual’s name, telling them to make reform happen.
Those who have walked what would have been a two-hour-and-forty-five-minute drive, according to MapQuest, will arrive at the Dirksen Senate Building Wednesday afternoon.
Members of the core group, who will walk from College Park to Union Station in the morning, will leave from the station at 12:30 p.m. and will be met by Reid and others at the Senate building at 2 p.m.
By Capital News Service’s Rachel Leven.