The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) joins the nation in mourning the loss of Representative John Lewis (D-GA). In addition to his extraordinary life as a renowned civil rights leader and icon, Rep. Lewis was a champion of biomedical research and served on the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease, a bipartisan forum of members from the House and Senate who seek to increase awareness of Parkinson’s issues on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Lewis met regularly with advocates and constituents with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and asked questions about how he could best serve them, including at one of MJFF’s advocacy forums.
"Mr. Lewis remembered me every time I met with him -- ‘you’re the pilot guy, right?’ he would say,” said MJFF advocate Nik Roberts from Atlanta, who was a pilot with Delta Airlines before his diagnosis. “He and Senator Isakson were very close friends, and that meant he really listened to us when we talked to him about what it's like to live with Parkinson's. He always supported NIH funding for research and the CDC to develop a national registry to help learn more about people with PD," Nik added. “He was a true friend of the PD community, and he always welcomed us with open arms.”
As Nik noted, Rep. John Lewis was a beloved colleague of now-retired Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who lives with Parkinson’s disease. (Watch Mr. Lewis’ remarks about Senator Isakson in November 2019 as Isakson retired from Senate service.) Senator Isakson wrote in an op-ed in the Savannah Morning News today, “I was proud to serve with him in the Georgia delegation, and proud to learn from how he responded to history’s call. He will forever be remembered as a great citizen of Georgia, a great American and a great humanitarian. America has changed for the better, thanks to the leadership of John Lewis."
The Foundation is immeasurably grateful for Mr. Lewis’s leadership and the legacy he leaves.
Read a full obituary from The New York Times.
Photo credit: NBC News
Photo credit: U.S. House of Representatives