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AARP AARP States South Dakota Advocacy

AARP South Dakota Receives Prestigious National Award for Advocacy

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AARP South Dakota recently received the Lyn Bodiford Award for Excellence in Advocacy for the team’s efforts to pass Medicaid expansion at the ballot box last November.

Each year, the national AARP organization recognizes one individual and one team in the organization for achievements that go above and beyond in service of AARP members and of the 50-plus community. The award was established in memory of Lyn Bodiford, a former advocacy director in Florida who was passionate about improving the lives of AARP members and all Americans aged 50 and older. Bodiford passed away in 2004.

“The passage of Medicaid expansion is a decisive victory for South Dakotans,” says Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement officer. “As the AARP South Dakota team collaborated with its partners, they ensured the benefits of Medicaid expansion were well-known, including keeping valuable tax dollars in the state and helping to keep rural hospitals open. Thanks to the team’s efforts, tens of thousands of South Dakotans now have access to critical health care coverage.”

Collaboration was key, according to AARP South Dakota State Director Erik Gaikowski.

“Passing a constitutional amendment is no small feat,” Gaikowski explains. “It takes all hands on deck, including our state office team, our incredible volunteers, our colleagues across the AARP organization and the many statewide partners who came together to achieve this victory.”

Reflecting on the journey to Medicaid expansion, Gaikowski emphasizes the importance of planning ahead and building strong partnerships.

“We always need to be watching issues that are important to the 50-plus in our state,” he says. “That could be issues like voter access, fraud prevention, health care access or building more livable communities. Planning ahead, collaboration and adaptability will remain vital for future advocacy efforts.”

The South Dakota team includes Gaikowski, Erik Nelson, Lindsey Holmquest, Mary Michaels, and Amanda Richards.

“This recognition is not just for our team, but also for all those who stood with us,” Gaikowski adds. “We are honored to have made a difference and are committed to creating a brighter future for South Dakota.”