I’m writing to you today about an issue very close to my heart: Healthcare.

The photo below is a few years old and the quality isn’t so great, but that’s my family surrounding my dad on his birthday when he was in the hospital. I flew up last minute when my sister called me saying he had blood poisoning and if I could come then I really needed to.

I earned little more than minimum wage back then, but thanks to years of Christmas gifts and birthday gifts stashed in an emergency fund, I could afford to fly home. I spent every penny on my ticket that evening. I wanted my arrival to be a secret, to try and bring something positive to a very scary moment in our lives. Surprising my dad and our family on his birthday was so emotional, but seeing my dad in the hospital bed brought forth a feeling that I will never be able to accurately describe. Anybody who has seen a hospitalized loved one knows the feeling. The pause of astonishment, the adjustment to seeing them out of their element, and the sobering idea that this person is fragile — all rolled into one indescribable emotion.

In my indescribable moment was this pillar of a man who helped me define myself. It was the larger-than-life giant who taught me to be strong, to be true to my values, and to live honestly. He was in a more vulnerable state than I had ever seen him. My mom was our anchor. She made us believe that everything would be fine. The idea that my dad wasn’t in a good place was terrifying, but my mom squared her shoulders and wore her smile from ear to ear. She let us be scared and sad, sneak out to hallways and cry, and stay up past midnight worrying in a circle together. She kept the ship steady when the storm shook us.

Our shelter through this storm was Medicare. Medicare saved my dad. Access to care — medicine, doctors, nurses, hospital care, all of it — brought him back, safely, to our family. It keeps him with us every day since. My story isn’t unique, it just has a happier ending than most, because we had the fortune to go to a doctor and get my dad treated. If Medicare can give me and my family a happy ending, it can give other people one, too. Being able to see a doctor without fear saved my parents, it can save your parent, too.

I’m passionate for healthcare for all — not just for myself. The health of my friends, my family, and my community matters to me. Their pain and their lives affect mine. Anyone could find themselves flying back from their parents’ house after seeing their loved one in the hospital on their birthday. Everyone deserves to know that their loved ones will be able to access and afford the necessary care to save their life.

Until universal healthcare is a reality, I won’t stop talking about how important it is. Everybody deserves to be treated when they are suffering, not just an elite few. Medicare for All will ensure all people have the chance to seek help when they need it, they won’t be turned away at the door because their pockets aren’t deep enough. Healthcare is a right and I cannot be quiet about it until even the smallest among us has access to it.

Every American deserves security in their health and care. Let’s make sure our parents, loved ones, and friends have a minimum of Medicare to keep them well. I’d be grateful for your donation to advance this cause.

Medicare for All is a fight worth fighting. It’s worth it for the man in the picture. It’s worth it for every loved one and family member who survived because of access to medical care. It’s a fight we can’t win alone. So I’m asking you today to join me in this cause, whether it is by showing up to help this campaign or by sending any dollar you can spare. We will not be quiet in our fight for universal healthcare and we will not give up. Let’s stand together and achieve what we know is possible: Medicare for All.

In Solidarity,

Sarah Smith

Candidate, Washington’s 9th congressional district