I am going to try to attempt to put into writing all that happened, and all that I experienced.
Friday night we were invited to the welcome social. It was at the Sheraton Hotel. We got there a little late, and as we were walking into the hotel lobby I saw Davis Phinney himself. I said hello Davis Phinney, told him my name and introduced him to Leisa. He said something like, oh,you are our local hero. It was great to meet him right off the bat and I think that started a fun relationship for the event and for life. Thank you Davis for being so kind.
Saturday, the main event, was awesome. The Phoenix Convention Center was alive with the enthusiasm. It was fun to be there early, see everything come together, and meet new people. My friends from POPS Ride were there in force as volunteers. What a great bunch they are. I love the POPS Ride family!
My family was all there, except McKelle and Casey. Casey had a convention in California related to his medical school studies that he was doing a presentation for. McKelle was so nice as to make sure I knew how much she wanted to be there.
Other dear friends who came to support me were Jim Hammer, Jim Schroeder, Debbie and Kalen Palmer, Jason and Jamie, Joe Maher and his wife, and of course my great new friends Roy and Lynn Roden who lingered longer in Arizona to support me and be able to attend a Victory Summit. I am so very grateful that they did.
Other key people that were there that I so very much appreciate were Margaret Anne, Darilyn, and Kristine from the Muhammad Ali Center. I really appreciate them so very much for their friendship and their professional attention given to me and to so many others.
Another great friend is Joey Gregan. He works for Medtronics and is also the current president of the Arizona Chapter of the American Parkinson's Disease Association. We have been able to ride alot the last few months and I appreciate his friendship.
A great surprise and what made the whole event so special was that my new friend Lance Martin, who I just met in November, made a special trip over from his home in California to be there to support me. What a great friend in Lance! Thank you ! And thanks to your wonderful family, Laura, Christopher and Caroline.
I can't say enough about my great PD buddies, Brian Baehr and Patti Meese. What great friends they are and fun to be with. Brian, his dear wife Kaye, and Patti were also at the Friday night reception. After the reception, Joey and his girlfriend Terri, and John, who is Joey's boss (I always thought that Joey was the boss) treated us to dinner. It was great.
Thank you! Brian, Patti, and I walked to the restaurant from the Sheraton, got lost temporarily, but had a lot of fun together. We also sat on a panel for one of the break out sessions, Living Well with Early On Set Parkinson's. Davis Phinney joined us as well and what a great treat that was.
The topics presented were:
- Parkinson’s Research Update: The Effects of Forced Exercise on Parkinson’s Motor & Non-motor Symptoms — Dr. Jay L. Alberts
- The PD You Don’t See: Cognitive and Non-motor Symptoms — Dr. Benzi M. Kluger
- Living Well with Parkinson’s: Ethics and Parkinson’s – Navigating Murky Waters — Kara D. Beasley
- The Importance of Social Capital — Dr. Al Condeluci
We also participated in some great movement activities in between speakers. We were taught to do moves to "Thriller" and also did "Laugh Yoga". That was awesome.
Tami, Sarah, Mary, Shane, and others, my cool friends from Banner Thunderbird Boot Camp started off the session with some exercise movements. Thank you Tami for your never ending passion and enthusiasm.
Brian Baehr presented me with the Local Hero Award and gave a very nice tribute to me. Thank you Brian. You are indeed a great friend who I value so much in my social capital!
I was able to give my speech "My Ultimate Diagnosis of PD", and during it was able to have flowers presented to Leisa by my good friends Brad and Cheryl Denham. What a beautiful arrangement they prepared of tulips and gladiolas. Brad was able to walk them to the table where Leisa was, present them to her, and give her a hug. What great friends I have.
Afterwards, POPS Ride, our family, and Lance went to dinner at Sam's Cafe. We all had a great time. Thank you everyone!
Also, Jordan brought his friend Maryn and we was able to meet her. What a sweet and beautiful girl. Great catch Jordan!