FORT SMITH, Ark. — U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Madison Marsh was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday (Nov. 2) as part of her family’s ongoing effort to push for more pancreatic cancer research and funding. She found herself explaining the deadly disease to former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Nov. 1 marked three years since pancreatic cancer took her mother, Whitney.
Madison and her family – father Mike and two brothers and two sisters – founded Whitney’s Race in honor of her mother, who died at the age of 41 from pancreatic cancer – just 10 months after her diagnosis. At Chaffee Crossing, the race raised more than $80,000 in 2020, with $50,000 going to the MD Anderson Pancreatic Cancer Moonshot program. Through the Whitney Marsh Foundation, they also donated $10,000 each to Mercy Fort Smith and Baptist-Fort Smith. The 2021 race was held on Oct. 23.
Madison, a 2019 graduate of Southside High School and a junior at the U.S. Air Force Academy pursuing a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics, was granted leave to travel to Washington, D.C., from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. She had worked with U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, to set up meetings with members of Congress and officials with federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health.
“We had her scheduled with movers and shakers who are friends of mine who would give her a personal meeting, give their personal time. … Because you have to get her in front of the people who are some of the decision-makers,” Womack told Talk Business & Politics.
She met with U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and several other members of Congress. Womack said two key people she talked two were U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Wash. Cole is the vice ranking member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. McMorris Rogers, according to Womack, is influential on the “policy-writing side of health care” issues.
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