Amy Shinneman wearing a beige blazer, Leah Zelaya wearing an orange floral dress and Reagan Imhoff, in a pink and white tweed blazer, sit smiling in their wheelchairs with their hands in their laps in front of the US Capitol building.
From left: Amy Shinneman, Leah Zelaya, and Reagan Imhoff

MDA Advocates Return to Capitol Hill

In May, MDA advocates returned to Washington, DC, for the first in-person MDA on the Hill event in more than three years. MDA staff and grassroots volunteers met with lawmakers to push for more accessible air travel for people with disabilities.

Reagan Imhoff smiles in her wheelchair, wearing a pink and white tweed blazer and skirt, with Senator Tammy Baldwin in a navy blue blazer and slacks with a leg brace on her right leg standing beside her.

Reagan met with Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

The timing of MDA on the Hill was crucial because Congress must reauthorize the Federal Aviation Act (FAA) this year and won’t be able to adjust it again until 2028. Advocates implored lawmakers to include the following reforms in the reauthorization:

  • Making airplanes more accessible
  • Ensuring increased safety for air travelers with disabilities
  • Preventing and holding airlines accountable for mobility device damages

Former MDA National Ambassador Reagan Imhoff, 18, from Milwaukee, attended MDA on the Hill for the first time this year.

“Not only was it rewarding to share my stories about the inaccessibility of air travel and my experiences with lawmakers and their staff, but I met so many wonderful advocates during this journey,” says Reagan, who lives with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

To compel lawmakers, advocates shared personal stories about being dropped by airline staff, having their wheelchairs destroyed, and being excluded from travel.

“I think it’s important for people to keep in mind that a person’s mobility aid is an extension of their body and allows them to experience the world,” Reagan says. “Categorizing mobility aids as ‘luggage’ is completely stripping away a disabled person’s humanity while flying, as they truly are separated from their body. And shouldn’t everyone have the opportunity to travel and connect with others?”

By the Numbers

31 advocates

11 states represented

31 strategic meetings with representatives and senators

370+ digital messages sent by advocates from across the country


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