Ryan Lochte sets gold standard for celebrity lobbying

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2013_02_ryanlochte Olympian Ryan Lochte signs autographs after a day lobbying Congress to support funding for muscular dystrophy. (Photo: Patra Wroten)

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He didn’t wear any medals. He didn’t wear those infamous red, white and blue teeth. In a smart gray suit with just a one-woman entourage (his mom!) Ryan Lochte did, however, set a gold standard in celebrity lobbying this week.

The 11-time Olympic medalist joined Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, an advocacy group focused entirely on Duchene muscular dystrophy, for its Capitol Hill advocacy day Monday. Lochte, who has worked with the group since 2008, lost a family member to the rare disease and worked alongside families from across the United States in asking Congress to reauthorize funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Care Act.

“Ryan is not just here for the public side of this fight, he’s been way more than just a face,” Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) told Duchene families as they wrapped up their Washington visit.

Lochte joined the families in their all-day meetings with members of Congress, then spent hours after at a reception posing for pictures, shaking hands and signing autographs.

Swimming is one of the few physical activities people who suffer from Duchene can enjoy, so that makes the cause even more personal to Lochte.

“I was amazed by the passion and strength of this incredible community,” Lochte said. “If my presence in Washington can bring a little more attention to the reauthorization of the MD-CARE Act, then it’s the least I can do.”

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