Like last year’s inaugural event, the 2014 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference was a resounding success as participants were educated, entertained, and well fed.
So what was different about this year?
Heroes. That’s what.
Lots and lots of food allergy heroes.
Some people might dream of meeting Johnny Depp or Lady Gaga. I dreamt of meeting Dr. Xiu-Min Li.
This year, my dream came true. I was able to ask Dr. Li about the tea I’ve been making for my son, and she said, ‘That’s good. It’s a slow way to modulate the immune system’. I’ve been walking on sunshine ever since.
But the cast of heroes didn’t stop there. Attendees rubbed shoulders with the famous Robyn O’Brien, Dr. Ruchi Gupta (catch her Thrive video here), and singer Kyle Dine. Football star Jerome Bettis made a special appearance.
Kyle Dine generously let me display brochures for Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia next to his brochures for Anaphylaxis Canada. But Kyle is not just a handsome face, he’s a talented musician who became the center of a lively late night singing party – a definite highlight of the weekend.
My personal surprise was meeting someone for whom I had made a tribute video earlier this year – the brave and powerful Lianne Mandelbaum of No Nut Traveler. Lianne has had to field lots of hate mail in her efforts to make flying safe for people with food allergies. She is a true hero and I was deeply honored to meet her.
My heroes also include Jessica Martin, the amazing Food Allergy Sleuth, Selena Bluntzer of Amazing and Atopic – who did tons of work behind the scenes,
and Donna DeCosta, Food Allergy Mom Doc and author of “A Little Bit Can Hurt”, who gave me lots of advice about publishing my book before she even knew me.
Another honor was meeting the now NBC-famous Sharon Wong, of Nut-Free Wok, who successfully advocated for mandatory epinephrine in California schools.
Some highlights – Author Henry Ehrlich moderated an informative presentation by Dr. Xiu-Min Li and Dr. Ruchi Gupta, and social media guru Ritesh Patel kept us up-to-date with the digital scene. Beth Hillson of Gluten Free and More taught us how to approach publications, Mary Fran Wiley gave me an illuminating audit of my website (that I now need to implement), and Food Allergy Dietitian Lisa Musician and Louise Goldberg spoke about nutrition.
This year, I was determined to see something other than the inside of the Southpoint Hotel. Luckily, Adam Woodrum was kind enough to play Red Rock tour guide to me, Heather McGrath of Blue Bear Allergy Aware, artist Tiffany Ferreira of Food Allergy Fun, and Sarah Hoskinson of Don’t Feed My Monkeys.
There are so many other heroes I could name, but here are a few:
Carolyn Moassessi of Grateful Foodie
Dr. Heather Hewett of SUNY
Lynda Mitchell, President of Kids with Food Allergy
Drew Aveling of Online Allergies
Justin Cunningham of YoDish
Tracy Bush of Nutrimom
Yael Kozar, The Anaphylactic Allergy Podcast
Authors Susan Weissman, Linda Coss, one of the first food allergy cookbook authors, Colette Martin, and Kristen Kauke MSW, LCSW
Finally, special credit goes to Shari Winard of sewsavaay.blogspot.com. After knowing me for exactly 5 minutes she agreed to join me for a swim in the hotel pool and jacuzzi, and later hit the Vegas strip with a few of us.
Many thanks to the miraculous Jenny Sprague and Homa Woodrum for organizing this incredible event. Extra thanks to Chef Keith Norman and his team for the superb food.
And next year…?