Pewaukee family inspires federal 'Right to Try' law

Posted at 6:58 PM, May 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-30 22:25:34-04

A father and daughter from Pewaukee helped President Donald Trump sign a bill into law at the White House Wednesday, because they were instrumental in getting that law passed. 

The Right to Try Act gives people who are terminally ill, the chance to use experimental medications that are not yet approved by the FDA. 

Tim Wendler could not be prouder of his three children, who have shown such strength despite losing their mom. Especially his oldest daughter, Tealyn, who took over her mother's fight for change, and got results. The 14-year-old shook the president's hand and stood behind him as he signed the new law named after her mother, Trickett Wendler.

"It feels awesome," Tealyn said. "It's been a long time coming. But it's kind of bittersweet because I wish my mom was here to share it with us. I definitely feel like she's very proud."

Tealyn's mom, Trickett, died three years ago from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. During her painful battle, Trickett applied for experimental treatments to help prolong her life, but was repeatedly denied. 

Since Trickett's death, Tealyn, her younger brother and sister, and their dad, have been working tirelessly, meeting with government leaders, advocating to make experimental treatments more accessible to people who are sick. 

"It's unacceptable to let more people go through the pain that I went through, that my whole family went through," Tealyn said. "An experimental treatment could have bought us a little more time with my mom."

With the president's signature Wednesday, terminally ill patients now get more options.

"No one has to wonder if they did enough, because now they have the right to try everything," Tealyn said. "The good that it's going to do for other families is exactly what my mom wanted."

Fighting for this, while grieving the woman they loved most in the world, was not easy. But it just became so worth it.

"This is an important day," President Trump said. "An important moment. You worked hard for this."

"Thank you for what you've done," Vice President Mike Pence said to Tealyn and other advocates. "Stepping up in a time of great hardship, to make America a better place for other families."

Critics of the Right to Try legislation say medications and treatments need to go through the whole FDA research and approval process before they're proven safe, and made available to the public. 

Right to Try was Republican Sen. Ron Johnson's bill. He pushed for two years to get it passed, and it won unanimous support in the Senate. Johnson believes the bill gives people with life-threatening illnesses the freedom to find hope with certain experimental drugs.