REBECCA SCHROEDER: ‘Ready to fight’

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The Schroeder family

SNAPSHOT - Rebecca Schroeder

Age: 40

Residence: Coeur d’ Alene

Born where: Grangeville, Idaho

Raised where: Kooskia, Idaho

Education: Clearwater Valley High School in Kooskia; University of Idaho degrees in chemistry and Spanish.

Favorite book: “Daring Greatly: How The Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brene Brown

Favorite movie: “The Goonies”

Favorite musical genre: Alternative rock

Hobbies: Spending time on the lake, hiking our beautiful Idaho trails, writing, walking my dog, volunteering, and practicing yoga

Person who influenced you most in life: My husband Brock, who exemplifies partnership, family, determination, and service through his actions, every single day

Quality you admire most in someone else: Authenticity

Favorite quote: “The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person doing it.” -Chinese Proverb

The main thing I want people to know about my life is: I’m not afraid to speak truth to power.

The best thing about my work is: Connecting with, and learning from others.

People would be surprised to know that: I speak fluent Spanish

On a day off, I will most likely be found: Preparing healthy meals for my family for the rest of the week

My favorite thing about Idaho is: The people who live here are Idaho’s greatest treasure.

My interest in politics began when: As a mother and constituent, I began interacting with Idaho lawmakers regarding health care policy in 2007 after my newborn son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. I became “interested” in politics because I am not interested in burying my child. My decade of experience as a health care advocate has shown me that our current Idaho lawmakers are willing to ignore the struggles of the people that they serve, year after year. I feel compelled to run for office because it’s time to constructively address the issues that have taken Idaho to 50th nationwide in worker wages, left 62,000 Idahoans in the Medicaid gap, and deteriorated public education for our children.

Every day I look forward to: spending time with my family. When your child is born with a rare genetic disease, every healthy day is a reason to be grateful.

The most important thing I have learned in life is: While we can’t control our circumstances, we can always control our response. We must be willing to embrace new ideas, because life will never stay the same.

Rebecca Schroeder can pinpoint the moment when the course of her life changed.

At just two weeks old, her son Brady was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a rare genetic disease that causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. To Schroeder and her husband Brock, the diagnosis—and the “intense” medical interventions that followed—came as a shock.

“That was a turning point for our family,” she said. “It changed a lot for us.”

Now in fourth grade at a public school, Brady is a normal, funny kid: a science nerd who plays the piano. Schroeder said he never complains about the regimen he goes through every day to stay healthy.

“If you met Brady, you would never know he has a rare genetic disease,” Schroeder said. “We’re so thankful that his health is quite good for a child with cystic fibrosis, because he has access to some incredible medicines that have transformed his life and his health.”

Still, the Schroeder family knows all too well the affordability and access issues associated with obtaining high-quality healthcare. One drug in particular, which treats cystic fibrosis at the cellular level, is expected to add decades to Brady’s life—and the Schroeders’ insurance is billed more than $30,000 a month.

Raising and advocating for Brady has taken Schroeder down a new path: into the world of politics. A Democrat, she’s running to represent District 4 in the Idaho Legislature not simply because she wants to, but because she feels she must—for Brady, and for people all across Idaho.

Schroeder has been involved in cystic fibrosis research and advocacy, through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. After her son’s diagnosis, she also began interacting with lawmakers in Boise and Washington D.C., because policy plays a role in Brady’s access to care.

“I have been desperately trying to communicate with politicians for the last 10 years and I have been ignored,” she said. “That’s why I’m running myself.”

Born in Grangeville, Schroeder grew up in the small central Idaho town of Kooskia. She enjoyed a “classic Idaho upbringing” at the edge of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Her dad worked as a first responder and for the forest service in Kooskia. He also hunted and fished for the family’s sustenance.

“He showed me ways I could be involved with my community, through service and through work,” she said.

At the University of Idaho, Schroeder earned degrees in chemistry and Spanish. She spent a few years doing research to improve water quality in freshwater lakes, which gave her an intimate understanding of how humans can impact the air, water and soil.

“Having that science background comes into play when I think about environmental policies that will protect and preserve our precious land for future generations,” she said.

Schroeder said her family is one of many that are at risk of having to leave Idaho for better prospects. It’s almost unthinkable—her husband, Brock, was born and raised in the Boise area. Idaho has always been home to them. But their son’s health comes first.

“There have been times during our marriage when we have considered moving to Washington or getting divorced in order to provide for our child,” she said. “Idaho is my home. That doesn’t seem right to me.”

That desire to keep her family in Idaho is why Schroeder is determined to improve access to health care and help make it possible for other families to thrive in the Gem State. To that end, she’s been deeply involved in efforts to expand Medicaid in Idaho. Schroeder said Medicaid is an important source of coverage for people with complex conditions like cystic fibrosis, and for many others.

“It’s so much more than just my son’s health,” she said. “There are 78,000 Idahoans who are living in the Medicaid gap without insurance. Those stories weigh on my heart as well.”

As a wife, a mother, and an Idahoan, Schroeder said she’s committed to giving a voice to the people of Idaho—and fighting for their future.

“I’m not willing to settle for what’s wrong in Idaho anymore,” she said. “I’m ready to fight for the right thing for Idaho’s people.”

Paid for Rebecca for Idaho Committee - Treasurer Kenna Smoot

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