By Cheryl Heppner, 6/16/11
What a fabulous first day at “A Capitol Celebration,” Hearing Loss Association of America’s annual convention at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City! It was a gray morning with ever-increasing drizzle when I ventured out with Galaxy for our early morning exercise, but we found a wonderful spot for Frisbee chasing with tree canopies for protection. From there we raced over to the Starbucks adjacent to the convention hotel to grab a couple things for my breakfast as well as Galaxy’s conference banana. Watching the faces of people as they walked briskly toward me on the sidewalk, intent on getting to work, I saw many of them smile at the sight of my goofy dog trotting proudly with her banana. It filled me with good cheer.
Things kicked off in the exhibit hall with grand opening from noon to 1:30 pm. There were some clever food choices for those attending, but I was already full. Somehow four of us from NVRC – Bonnie, Marla, Kalen and me – bumped into each other on the second floor near the Hyatt’s Cinnabar café, though not all at the same time. Kalen and I ended up eating lunch at Cinnabar, and I got my first big surprise of the conference when our orders arrived. We both ordered what we thought were appetizer-sized portions, but they were served on plates more the size of serving platters. My green salad was enough for two meals.
I’m busting my buttons a bit because two of the HLAA staff took me aside today to thank me for the hotel staff training that Bonnie and Marla did earlier this week to help prepare two hotels for the big crowd of people who can’t always hear door knocks, might confuse “pay” with “may”, and maybe have hearing aids that squeal now and again. They said that Bonnie and Marla’s training was fabulous. But I knew that. They are always fabulous unless they are awesome or terrific. I love my job.
Speaking of staff, the HLAA staff and volunteers are doing an amazing job themselves. My check-in yesterday was a total delight. Everyone was helpful, pleasant, and organized.
This must be one of the largest conventions because I can’t remember when I’ve had so many hugs in a day, waved to so many people passing by that I’ve met at previous conventions, and met so many new people. I was thrilled to run into Carole Purdum and her husband last night. Carole and I were seatmates at last year’s Opening Session in Milwaukee and I had such fun getting to know her. It’s nice to see many other couples here as well such as John Waldo and his wife, Wayne Roorda and his wife, former area residents Gerry and Sheila Adams.
I spotted a group of staff from the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at lunch today, how nice this is an in-state conference that they could carpool and afford to attend. And was happy to see the seemingly indestructible Arva Priola in great health after recent surgery.
But I ramble. I’m writing too late in the day with a head too full of useful information and a steno pad full of notes from presentations and exhibits to be organized. They’ll be coming! I’ve got to take Galaxy for her final walk of the night and then get ready to hit the sack. Tomorrow the note taking starts at 9 am with the Research Symposium, which will probably come to you in at least three separate chunks because it’s three hours long. Marla, Bonnie and I are taking turns with the three segments.