Juvenile Arthritis Conference Day 1- Wish You Were Here!

Here we are, finally at the Juvenile Arthritis Conference after months of anticipation.

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Why were we so excited? After all, its just a conference, full of boring informational meetings, right?

WRONG!

The Juvenile Arthritis Conference is a collection of very informative speakers and sessions, but it is so much more. Last night at the opening dinner, there were over 1200 participants from 42 states, and even a family that came all the way from New Zealand! We were treated to a dynamic program while we had dinner that included a live band, and inspiring speech by Deborah Snyder (a fellow RA sufferer and producer of the blockbuster hit “Man of Steel”) The kids were all dressed up in superhero costumes or attire while “real” superheros worked their way through the crowd to visit and for photo opportunities.

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As we all chatted at our tables and got to know one another, I was overwhelmed by the feelings of camaraderie. We were all warriors- our children “superheros” battling this disease. We had something big in common with everyone in the room. Out there in the “real” world, we are often isolated, as our struggles as a JA family are not well understood. Not here. Here we can be “normal,” we are just one family of many going through the same things.  One of the most amazing moments was when we were treated to a slideshow of the kids holding their “I Dream” signs… from little ones dreaming of “popsicles and puppies” to hearthbreaking wishes for no more meds or wheelchairs, it was very touching hearing directly from the children.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we had an OPRAH moment. The announcement was made that EVERY child in attendance would recieve a brand new Razor scooter, to help keep them moving, a very generous gift from the sponsors! The crowd went wild! Then we found out that we would be treated to an LA food truck round up for lunch on Friday, a family carnival, and even a trip to Disneyland before all was said and done. WOW.

After the dinner, we broke for sessions, moms in one room, dads in another.  There was even a special session for Spanish speakers. Our kids were divided by age, nearly one group for each year and two groups for teens (older 15-18 and younger 13-15.) There was even a special group just for young adults 18-25. They thought of everything, and this was just day one! I am really looking forward to today, when we really get down to business. We have had a chance to meet and connect, and learn what they have in store for us. The good news is YOU can join us today for the general sessions no matter where you are! The Arthritis Foundation will be streaming the live virtual conference  all weekend so that you can benefit even if you were unable to attend. Come join us online, and plan to join us in person next year….they let the cat out of the bag yesterday, and next years conference will be July 3-6 in Keystone Colorado!

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Comments:

  1. Shawn krupa says:

    My family and I are have a great time from day one My daughter has met some kid
    And we are going to start gitting ready for next year

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