Tag Archives: family conference

2017 NFED Family Conference Recap

The 2017 NFED Family Conference has already come and gone – in a flash, it seems. This year it was held in Falls Church, VA, which is right outside of our nation’s capital – Washington DC. The day before conference was Advocacy Day, and many NFED families went to Capitol Hill to speak with their state representatives about mandating that dental treatment be covered under health insurance.

I won’t recap every second of the conference – just point out some of the highlights.

Highlight 1: Reuniting with old friends!

Now that I’ve been going to conferences for 6 years straight (except for last year, which I skipped), it’s crazy cool how many people I actually know! Of course there’s my adult EEC crew, Norma’s Canadian entourage, my mini-me – Ally, and her family, and all the other adult parents of EEC kids (most of whom are not much older than me).

There’s also a lot of youngsters who I met when they were just little tykes, and who are now getting so big! Julie, who once cried when I tried to hold her, now sought me out to say hello! I reunited with my two Sams, although I only have a picture of one of them. The boys I met at my first conference are all teens now and towering over me.

Of course the are plenty of other adults I enjoy reuniting with – I don’t want to try and list everyone here for fear of missing anyone. But you know who you are!

Highlight 2: Meeting new friends!

I was excited to discover a mother/daughter team from Connecticut at the conference. Not only that, but the daughter has EEC! Doubly exciting, since we hardly ever get New Englanders, much less Nutmeggers at the conferences. I will definitely be getting in touch with them so we can get together locally.

Another new EEC person was 9-month old EJ, who was there with his mom Iris. Iris introduced herself to us by announcing that she had Facebook stalked all of us. If she hadn’t been a mom of a young affected boy, this might have been super creepy, but we all laughed and then fought over who would get to hold EJ next.

I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking – and let me say a quick shout-out to Iris, Caitlin, Terri and Suzanne for sending me most of these pics. I think only about 4 of them were mine to begin with. And thank you Bridget for the picture of Sam and I. 🙂

After the conference was the Rally for Ally. I had hoped to get to chat with a lot of people there who I hadn’t gotten the chance to talk to at the conference. However, about halfway through, it started torrentially downpouring, and I ended up heading back to the hotel with the MacDonald clan. We got dinner in the hotel restaurant and then it was time for me to catch my plane!

Next year the conference is going to be in Oregon! I’m already trying to figure out how much time I can get off from work so that I can make an extended trip out of it.

Conference in Review

Last week I attended the 33rd annual NFED Family Conference, which was held in Columbus, Ohio. There was a record number of people registered for conference – over 400 – but it did not feel overcrowded at all.

This was my 5th conference (including the one I went to way back in 1996). Every one I’ve been to has a different “feel” to it. It’s almost as if the conference itself is a living thing – made up of all the people who attend and the atmosphere of the hotel and even the weather, I guess it also depends on your perspective and what role you’re playing in it.

For me, the “feel” of this conference was very calm and down to earth. I was really looking forward to just relaxing and catching up with people, and connecting with new people. I guess that’s my goal every year, but this year it seemed more so. 

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Some of the amazing ladies I got to spend time with at conference.

Some of the highlights of this year’s conference were: 

The liaisons hosting a pep rally and game night for the first evening of conference.

Being a “buddy”, which meant that I was assigned to a new family and tasked with helping them feel comfortable at the conference. My buddy this year was a young woman named Mallory and her son Hudson. 

Catching up with old friends – and seeing how my “young” friends have grown since I last saw them.

Meeting new friends and making connections with people I had already “met” online.

Participating in a panel for one of the sessions. It was a general Q&A session for people in the audience to ask affected adults, or parents of affected children anything they wanted to ask. I was one of six panel members, and I enjoyed being part of it. I just wish people had asked more questions! 

Each evening, hanging out with the other adults, either at the bar or in the courtyard. Really, the social aspect of the conference is what draws me back year after year. This year I got to spend a lot of time with Suzanne and her husband Will, which was cool! 

Having dinner with one of my mini-me’s the evening after the conference ended. 

Ally and me
Dinner with my mini-me, Ally.

By the end of the conference, I was exhausted and sick (I must have picked up a bug on my travels), but happy that I had the opportunity to connect and re-connect with my extended NFED family.

Next year we’ll do it again in Colorado Springs!