Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Part I - The People I Meet - 2009 HLAA Convention Pictures

The 2009 HLAA Convention in Nashville has come and gone but the memories are some pictures for you to enjoy!
This is my local chapter (click on the above name to access our Chapter blog) and I was so pleased that some of our members were able to come and experience this convention. Every time I saw one of them, they looked like they were having a great time!
Mark Brogan and I
I am so PROUD of Mark! He shared his story at the Opening Night Ceremony about how he lost his hearing in both ears as a result of a suicide bomber in Iraq three years ago. When he first started coming to our meetings in Knoxville, I knew that there was something special about him. His story is incredible and he has been through a lot. His wife, Sunny, is his biggest cheerleader and they will be on the cover of the HLAA magazine in the near future.
Sam Spritzer & I
Sam is a very special online friend. We met each other via my blog in April of 2007 when he was starting his cochlear implant journey. We've kept in touch regularly online and he has a blog HERE. He had recently had scare last week with a heart attack and is so thankful to be alive. This picture was taken at the Nashville airport where I was volunteering and was our first meeting in person. I knew who he was right away when he started walking towards me with his smile!
Me with Judy Martin
Judy is the President of a HLAA Chapter in Florida. We've kept in touch online for quite some time. She has been a great help answering my questions and giving me support for the Knoxville HLA Chapter. It was fun to finally meet her in person!
Tracey & Susan
These two beautiful gals were my roomates this year. This was Tracey's first convention and she was very interested in the seminars and exhibits. Susan is the first person that I met with a cochlear implant and was the one who was so supportive and helpful when I started my CI journey. She has a blog HERE about her CI Journey. Both of these gals work as nurses in my ENT/CI doctor's office, so I was well taken care of!
Debbie & Steve Bottles
This wonderful couple are a sister and brother team from Idaho. I met them online in the HLAA CI Monday night chat and they are just as charming as they look! They both have cochlear implants and received them together at the same time a few years ago. And doing great! They have a blog as well at (Insert Blog here)
GIRLFRIENDS! (Click on their names to access their blogs)
Left to right: Me, Abbie, Tina, and Jennifer
I met all three of these gals via blogging. Abbie and Jennifer were my roomates last year and are great fun. Joining us in this picture for the first time is Tina from Washington, D.C. who writes about her young son's cochlear implant journey. Tina is a GREAT advocate for her little boy and is doing everything she can for him and other children with hearing loss. Abbie was the Convention blogger this year and you can access the Convention Blog HERE. Jennifer is the current President of the Nashville HLAA Chapter and had a beautiful welcome speech on Opening night. Sir Tom, Me, and Big Bear
I met these two men last year in Reno and and also online in the Monday Night CI Chat room. They both have cochlear implants (Tom has one and Big Bear has two.) Sir Tom and his wife, Judy, have been guests in our home twice this past year and are such a great couple. They brought their Wii the last time they came and we played games during their whole visit! Big Bear (Wayne) is has been part of HLAA for over 20 years and lives in New Jersey, working for Sprint CapTel.
My Brother, Doug!
I was SO excited when my brother decided at the last minute to come to the Convention for one day! Doug and I are the only ones in our family with a hearing loss. He came specifically for the Hair Cell Regeneration Symposium on Friday, attended some workshops and visited the exhibit hall. He would have liked to have stayed another day but was around long enough to experience what HLAA has to offer and meet some HLAA friends.
Just me and my Hubby!
Last, but not least, is a picture of my other half! The Convention was close enough to home that he was able to come over for one day. It was such fun to introduce him to the Convention experience and share how much it means to me. He also brought a friend from church, who wanted to get some information about putting in a loop system.

I don't think I stopped smiling for days! My face hurt from all the smiling, laughing, and talking we all did! But it was such a wonderful and uplifting time. I have more pictures to share but will save them for another post since it is challenging to upload so many at one time. Until then, enjoy!


VBnBama said...

so nice, I'm jealous you got to meet so many famous people! I'm sure they were star struck as well...

Sam said...

Thank you! We are forever friends and I am so much more honored having met you at HLAA!

Christian and Lily's Mommy said...

So glad we finally were able to hug in person!

Laurie said...

Val, you need to come to a convention some time and bring your kids!

Sam, I'm blessed and honored to call you friend!

And Tina, you are such a delight! I was happy to hug you in person, too, and share some laughs!