SPD Symposium Wrap Up (2 of 3)

Award Winners with Dr. Miller  (L to R):  Lori Frankhanel,
Lucy Miller PhD, OTR/L, Diana Henry OTR/L, and Barry Stein, PhD.
Thanks to Brian Mengini for the photo!

If you didn't read yesterday's post, start there -- it is below this post and can be found by clicking here.

5:30am Saturday

No cooking = AWESOME.
I was up and off again! One of the coolest things about the three days away from the house was not having to cook. I know, that seems trivial or even cliché, but walking into that hotel to find a beautiful spread of fresh fruit, pastries and these adorable little yogurt/granola and fruit parfaits had me considering a permanent move. They were amazingly tasty!

The conference was at capacity: Over 350 attendees in a packed ballroom. And the coolest part of Saturday morning, was having Dr. Lucy Jane Miller speak.

If you haven’t seen her, I highly recommend you do. She is incredibly easy to listen to, a great and exceedingly rare combination of mastery of information and personable delivery. The audience laughed and related to her immediately. Someone I aim to model my talks after.

Saturday’s full house lecture favorites included Dr. Stephen Glass, Seattle based Neurologist, as well as Diana Henry, OTR/L.

Diana and Lori
Another highlight was the awards that the SPD Foundation gives out – Lori Frankhanel from SPD Canada won for the Advocate of the year! Give her a shoutout on Facebook and big congrats! And did I mention how incredibly sweet and down-to-earth Lori is? A true pleasure getting to know her!

But, by far the most incredible thing from all of Saturday was having the opportunity to speak to the group (yes, all 350+ people, and no panic attack) about my 30 SPD Stories in 30 Days Awareness Event and Fundraiser and present the check directly to Dr. Lucy Miller. WOW.

Seriously, WOW!

When Katy Miller, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the SPD Foundation, suggested that I should do it, I was giddy with excitement. When I walked on stage, Carrie Fannin sat smiling her motherly-grin-of-encouragement to me in the crowd, and I felt like I could explode from sheer happiness.

Luckily for the crowd, I did not.

Instead I talked about what a great job ALL OF YOU did writing these stories, publishing these stories, and the incredible and staggering 25,000 views these stories received during the month of October.

It looks like I am saying "Derrrr"...
BUT, it is proof I was behind the podium!

And when I said, “25,000 page views by over 10,000 unique people” the crowd audibly said, “Wooah.”

That was a moment, my friends. Thank you.

And that was just the morning.

By afternoon we were selling This is Gabriel Making Sense of School, the SPD Awareness Calendar, and talking personally to each and every parent there while we signed them up for the SPD Parent Dinner which was sponsored by Soft Clothing and a local private school.

40 parents signed up to join us for a Mexican Buffet and giveaway celebration just one block away.

Which meant when the conference ended at 5:00, I was rushing like a crazy woman, back to the hotel, changing into jeans (and flip flops, which my feet were grateful for), grabbing the giveaway tub and racing out of the room.

After dragging the tub to the elevator I realized I didn’t have the key to my hubby’s car. Technically, it is a ‘fob’ not a key, because his fancy-ass car has a push button start. So, no matter how hard I shook my purse, there was no jingle-jangling. Damn. So, logically, I sat my tub on top of a trash can, dropped to the floor and dumped out my purse.

Nothing. So, I grabbed my tub, and drug it back to my room, where I scoured every surface, just to realize it wasn’t there. Maybe I left it in the car?

Now I am praying no one stole the car that was left out front of the hotel with the key in it.

I rush downstairs, in flip flops, in the rain, with a giant tub full of giveaway stuff (think HEAVY) and out to find my car waiting. *big sigh of relief*

Jump in the car, drive at light speed to the dinner.

I walk in to find the place is full and loud. Just like I like it.

I enlist the help of fellow SPD parent Brian Mengini, who is one of the photographers of the SPD Awareness Calendar, to help me remove everything from the trunk (I had a second bag full of stuff there) and set up the tables. While we do this, I make sure the taco and quesadilla appetizers are on their way and order an ice cold beer.

The last to leave the SPD Parent Dinner (L to R):
Kerrie, Julie, Hartley, Kris, Carrie, Cat and Laura
Thanks to Brian Mengini for the photo!
The SPD Parent Dinner was the first of its kind, to my knowledge, anywhere in the US. And it was an opportunity for Carrie Fannin and me to host those parents from other states, as well as our own, in an effort to unite them.  I have to tell you, that as it started, I had a woman walk up to me and say, "This is the best thing anyone has ever done to support me as a parent."  That was a moment.

I was surprised at the number of parents there who didn’t know about their local support group, but I was incredibly IMPRESSED by the number of women who volunteered to bring support to their area.

One of the coolest parts of the entire event was the giveaway. We gave away some SERIOUSLY cool stuff – autographed books, SI Focus magazine (with an article by me!), and gift cards. I enlisted the help of SPD mom Julie from North Carolina to draw tickets, and boy did we get some good laughs! The dinner was full of laughing – but also it provided a forum for sharing, counseling and support. I can’t imagine a better group of women (and dad; Hi George!) to spend an evening with. Truly my honor.

I would like to try and thank them all personally. I realize I am going to leave someone off this list, and for that I am sorry, but humor me here as I try to get everyone that attended mentioned!

A special thanks from me to:

Julie, Kerrie, Cynthia, Laura, Brian, Angie, Melissa, Veronica, Sharon, Andrea, Stacey, Heidi, Cat, Maia, Lisa, Kelly, Kandace, Kathryn, Nan, Stephanie, Leah, Mardeth, Staci, Teri, Beth, Julia M., Julia H., May, Catherine, Missy, Julie, Anna and George (yay a dad!), Michelle, Kris, Gina and of course Carrie and Brian!

Please stay in touch, and keep connecting others in your community!

The evening ended, and back to my hotel I went. This time, exhausted enough that I slept through the night like a dream.


John and Allie Fields said...

This really sounds like a ton of fun. I wish I could go to something like that!

Patty O. said...

WOW! As I read this, I felt such a deep sense of gratitude that you gave us parents the opportunity to tell our SPD stories. I had no idea that many people read them!

This gives me such a feeling of empowerment. Thanks to you, I finally feel like I am doing more than slogging through my days with therapy, etc. Now, I feel like I am part of an amazing community. I now feel so much less alone.

Thank you, Hartley!

Anonymous said...

I am loving reading this. You're making me feel like I was there (and so sad that I wasn't!)
Thank you for sharing our stories with the world and showing everyone that we aren't alone.
I bet you rocked the house! Congrats on the great presentation!