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Champion VoicesJune 15, 2018

Champion Story: Matthew Pope, father and Shot@Life advocate

When I first became a Shot@Life Champion, I was a graduate school student focused on improving the world and empowering others to do the same. While I knew of the risks that we as a society face from various diseases, tragedies, and disasters around the world, I also knew that I wanted to be a father one day despite those risks. More than anything, I knew then what I know now: there is hope for a better tomorrow, and all children around the globe deserve a shot at life.

Currently, I help lead nationwide patient assistance programs, in a building that, coincidentally, used to be a center for flu vaccine production. I am also a Shot@Life Champion leader for the state of Indiana. Most importantly, I am the father of one child already, and my wife and I have another baby on the way.

Before my wife and I married, my wife’s best friend told her that she knew one thing for sure:  our children would be vaccinated. As an immunocompromised adult, I place a great deal of importance on herd-immunity. Those that can help protect others around them have a moral responsibility to do so.

As my children grow older, I know their aspirations will take them around the world. While I could not be more excited for them to live out their hopes and dreams, I know it is crucial that they are protected every step of the way. They are a huge part of why I advocate to bridge together local and global vaccination endeavors around the world. As the old adage goes, it takes a village to raise a child.  It also takes a village to protect children around the world from vaccine-preventable diseases.

My life experiences have shown me the true value of coalitions, community, and collaboration across our diverse socio-economic landscape. I want to ensure my children understand the value of these concepts as well. I want them to stand up for what is right and to be a voice for the voiceless. When you spend your time (especially your “free” time) helping others, it signifies to those around you that you are willing to take on the big challenges in life head-on. It shows them that you are a person grounded in strong character. My children will learn that where you live should not dictate whether or not you deserve a shot at life.

I am blessed with an amazing family already, and I cannot wait to hold the newest addition to our family in my arms. Our baby already has a series of advocacy in action shirts, and, of course, a Shot@Life pacifier! While I know that I can provide a loving environment for children to learn and grow, my biggest concerns as a parent are the same concerns expressed by parents of every walk of life. From securing opportunities for my children to ensuring they are safe and empowered, I want to support them every step of the way and give them the moral foundation from which to succeed.

Looking to the future as my children grow, there may come a time where I am no longer a Champion Leader for Shot@Life. However, there will never come a time where I do not support Shot@Life’s work and mission. I will always be passionate about advocating for global access to childhood vaccines. On this Father’s Day (and every other day really), I urge you all to utilize your time, talents, and resources to assist others. It is extremely important. Together, we can help end vaccine-preventable deaths around the world. From one parent to another, the time is now. Be an advocate today for your something you believe in, and have a wonderful Father’s Day with your loved ones.

Matthew Pope