RSDSA Finds Great Success At Nashville CRPS Conference
By Samantha Barrett, Special Events Coordinator
As we regroup after a fabulous weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, we thought it would be nice to do a quick recap of the events that happened this past weekend. An amazing group of people with CRPS, caregivers, and supporters joined us to make this one of our most successful conferences yet!
This past weekend, RSDSA staff and board members traveled to Music City to host Treating the Whole Person: Optimizing Wellness at Opryland Resort and Convention Center. This was our first time to Nashville and excitement was abundant. After months of planning, we couldn’t believe how quickly the event came up.
Upon arriving at Opryland Resort and Convention Center, our jaws dropped. We never imagined how gorgeous and incredibly large this hotel would be. There were waterfalls, restaurants, boat tours, and sky walks throughout the hotel. A beautiful site. We knew our pre-conference reception would be taking place at the Delta Atrium on the Delta Pavilion. That was one of the first places we tried to find upon arrival. When we did find it, we were amazed by the beauty of it. A fabulous gazebo surrounded by lights and plants made for a great reception space. We were excited to get the day going.
Our pre-conference reception was a huge success. More people than ever before showed up to our Nashville reception. We had music, a silent auction, food, and plenty of time to chat with one another. Bonds were being made instantly as people passed into the atrium, beyond the registration table. People that had never met before were becoming instant friends. This is why we find our receptions so important- they really help us help you create support systems and find sources of hope within other people with CRPS, caregivers, and medical professionals.
After a long day, we all retired to our rooms to prepare for the big day- conference day. RSDSA staff and board members were up bright and early preparing the conference room and exhibitor lobby. Exhibitors came from all over the country to help members of the CRPS community with everything from legal issues to insurance and everything in between. As 7:45 a.m. approached, everyone started arriving. Red name tags from people with CRPS, blue name tags for caregivers, loved ones, supporters, medical professionals, and anyone in between. Our conference was completely sold out. We had a fabulous line up of speakers and panels aimed to help everyone in attendance. The day went by smoothly and the presenters did wonderful jobs. Our caregiver panel brought out tears through the room and reminded us all about the true importance of caregivers and how caregivers need support, too. Our faculty Q&A panel helped us shine a light on important issues and really got our gears going. Thank you to Dr. Terri Lewis, Dr. Pradeep Chopra, Dr. Benjamin Johnson, Tammy Gipson, Omega Kimoto, Gracie Bagosy-Young, and our caregiver panel members for bringing such important topics into the spotlight. Our videos from this conference will be up within the next couple of weeks. We will share these videos when they are up to give the other members of our community a chance to hear these great presentations.
One of the best things I saw this weekend was true friendship and solidarity among CRPS warriors and caregivers. I saw people coming out of the room to take a break with people they hadn’t arrived at the conference with, but acting as though they had been friends for decades. I saw people rushing to hold doors open for those of us with assistive devices. Tears were shed, hugs were given, and hope was abundant. We had several people that hadn’t met others with CRPS before, despite being diagnosed for years. As a matter of fact, for one conference attendee, I was the first person with CRPS they had ever met. While none of us would wish this on anyone, it is an overwhelming feeling to meet someone that understands your experiences. It is life changing. With every conference we hold, my heart grows even more, as my own network of people that understand my experiences expands.
This conference was fabulous for so many different reasons. We had several people without CRPS stop to ask us about what it was, how they could help, and where they could find more information. We had a news station feature an article on our conference, which can be found here. But most importantly, we helped provide education, support, and hope for over 150 people in a sold out ballroom at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
Thank you to all of our attendees, sponsors, and to Omega Ann Kimoto and Larry Vondrasek! You made this a truly incredible weekend.
Our next conference is April 30 in Fayetteville, AR. Feel free to join us there to help us create even more memories and make more strides towards progress. Click here to register!