All the letter-writing, phone calls, meetings with members of Congress and the federal government are paying off for 15 year old LivLyme Foundation founder Olivia Goodreau. The Kay Hagan Tick Act is now law, marking a historic moment for people who suffer from Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The legislation adds $150 million in new federal funding to fight tick-borne illnesses through 2029.
“Last May, I met with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). The Senator asked if I would help her pass this TICK Act,” said Olivia, who also conceived the TickTracker app at age 13. “This bill almost died a few times. People said we would never get it through, that it would take years. I want to thank the Lyme advocates who kept fighting, Senators Collins and Tina Smith (D-MN) and their staffs, the senators who co-sponsored the bill, and all the Lyme patients who contacted their representatives. This happened because of everyone working together. We must find a cure.”
Olivia’s life was forever changed at age 6 when she was bitten by a Lyme-infected tick the summer after first grade. She founded The LivLyme Foundation when she was 12. Olivia collaborated with the Center for Lyme Action, Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education and a small number of other Lyme groups to fight for passage of the Act. More than 150 organizations signed on to support the legislation.
The Kay Hagan Tick Act unites the effort to confront the alarming public health threat posed by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, which have risen exponentially from approximately 30,000 cases in 2003 to an estimated 450,000 last year. The bipartisan effort signals a monumental shift in how tick-borne disease is addressed in the U.S. and brings hope to tens of thousands of Americans who’ve struggled for years to receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Senators Collins and Smith renamed the bill in honor of former Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), who passed away on October 28th, 2019, due to complications from the tick-borne disease known as the Powassan virus.
“As the mother of a child who suffers from Lyme and 6 co-infections for more than 9 years, I am so grateful to Senators Collins and Smith, their staffs, and the co-sponsors of the Kay Hagan Tick Act,” said Holiday Goodreau, Olivia’s mom, Executive Director of The LivLyme Foundation and CEO of TickTracker. “This groundbreaking legislation will help patients, scientists and future generations to come.”