Chris Perez attended the Congenital Heart Legislative Conference on February 25-26, 2015. Here, he writes about the first day of this adventure. As the father of a child with a serious congenital heart defect, Chris regularly writes about his experiences in the CHD world on his blog: Half Heart. Whole Life.
As Day 1 began to arrive it became obvious that the weather was determined to throw a monkey wrench into my plans. On the day before I was scheduled to fly out, we actually got a little bit of snowfall here in Charlotte. Now it didn’t even snow a half-inch and none of it stuck to the roads, but here in the Carolinas that amount of snow is equal to the apocalypse! Schools closed, people didn’t go to work, the grocery stores were packed. Me? I went to work. After all, I’m a New Englander…so for me this was just an average Tuesday. Still, I’d be lying if I wasn’t concerned about my upcoming travel since they cancel things at the drop of a hat here. Luckily, though, the flight was still on and the roads were nice and clear. I had everything packed, including my leave-behinds and some CHD Awareness colored socks (I love crazy socks):
I had a good 50-minute flight into DC, picked up my bag and used Uber for the first time to get to the hotel. I had a credit due to being a UNCC alum, so I put it to good use. What a great experience…WAY better than a taxi! After a few issues with my room key (the first 2 didn’t work) I managed to get a little down time before registering for the conference and grabbing some lunch. At registration we were given these cool pins that I immediately put on and it actually started up a lot of conversation in the elevators, which was great:
I jumped right into sitting with a table full of strangers and it was great to meet people from all across the country: I met a heart parent from right there in DC, a heart family from Florida, a family who unfortunately lost their little one (kudos for them for being there to advocate…so brave!), and I also met this guy:
This young man is Jacob and he’s from San Diego. He was born with HLHS and received a heart transplant at a young age. He was a very cool guy and had an amazing story and outlook on life. I got to spend some time hanging out with him and his Aunt on this trip and I’m glad I had the opportunity. I am going to blog more in depth about him and the work he’s doing, so keep an eye out for that!
So anyhoo, we kicked off our training, which included discussions on how to tell our story, decorum on the Hill, how to use social media, and lots of presentations from guests. These included a CHD survivor and a heart parent (her son was the Darth Vader kid from that car commercial a few years ago). We also saw a very interesting presentation from the NIH regarding CHD research. It was really fascinating and I am going to be blogging more in depth about it soon (I know there’s a lot of “see me later” stuff going on), but here’s a little preview:
TO SEE THE PREVIEW AND READ THE ENTIRE BLOG, visit the original post here.