The Emotions Involved
My experience with "the nationals" started with my first NDSC conference in Memphis, TN, in 1990. When I was able to return this past weekend, after an almost 20 year hiatus, the feelings I had on that first trip came flooding back. After the first half-hour my teeth actually hurt from smiling so much. I simply can not explain the emotions involved with seeing so many beautiful faces, of every age, gathered in one place.
The sessions are always well planned and informative. There's a variety of topics discussed that interest parents and caregivers of children of all ages. This year, my main focus was on supporting Patti and #Justice For Ethan and introducing The Road We've Shared to the wider community. The exhibit hall was buzzing with activity from beginning to end.
Discovering the Exhibit Hall
The feeling of being among friends and family was never more evident to me than during those precious moments when people would stop at our table, or in the hallways, sessions, and restaurants, to ask about JusticeForEthan and give their condolences to Patti. I lost track of the number of times when parents were so overcome with emotion when they saw her that they could not hold back the tears. Men and women from all over the country were so touched by the story, and the strength Patti continues to show by being there and fighting for justice that they had to reach out to her and say things like, "that could have been my child" and "thank you for making sure it never happens again."
A huge selection of clothing by Ashley DeRamus was available from Ashley By Design.
Kaylene displayed her beautiful bracelets while Gabe and KK sold their beautiful glass creations.
Todd did an awesome job explaining and selling his greeting cards.
It was truly amazing to see all of these young adults with creative enterprises.
I also saw TIm Harris from Tim's Place. Did you know that he's going to have his own reality TV show, Everybody Loves Tim?
Meeting New Friends
Another highlight for me was getting to finally meet some of the people I've become friends with online in the past year and a half.
I finally got to meet Marianne! The Joey's Ups with Downs table was right next to ours (by design) and I got to spend some quality time with her and her super supportive husband Karl.
More Important Work
I also learned that the existing groups are working together for the common good. It may seem, from the outside, that our community is divided and thus not as strong as it could be. As I got to meet some of the leaders from each group I learned that's not true. There is a respect and comradarie that exists which may not always be visible from my couch, but from now on I'll know it's there. I was encouraged by not only how well the groups worked together, but also by how supportive they were of me and our efforts here at The Road.
I look forward to building on all of the relationships that were strengthened this past weekend, both professional and personal.
Together we can do so much!
I'd like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of the people who bought t-shirts and contributed to our travel fund. The NDSC conference is a one of a kind experience and I'm so glad that I was able to attend.
See you next year in Phoenix!