Connecting in California

NHF’s 65th Annual Meeting in Anaheim
Author: Sarah Aldridge

California is the place you want to be this year, as the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) hosts its 65th Annual Meeting, “United in Progress,” in Anaheim October 3–5 at the Anaheim Marriott and Hilton Anaheim hotels.

People keep coming back to NHF’s Annual Meeting for a variety of reasons. They know they will find top-notch speakers, relaying the latest research, treatments and products for people with bleeding disorders. During Annual Meeting, families learn more about advocacy issues they can support in their own communities. First-time attendees are often overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people with bleeding disorders all gathered in the same place. And everyone gets energized by the social events.

Education and information

NHF’s Annual Meeting is unique in drawing diverse groups of people, but it is united in focus. Few national organizations bring together consumers, healthcare providers, researchers, industry partners, chapter staff and volunteers all at one convention. But what better place to do it than at an annual conference, where you might bump into a hematologist in the elevator, or listen to a hemophilia treatment center nurse at an educational session.

This year’s Annual Meeting has all the ingredients for a great gathering. At the Opening Session, the kick-off event on Thursday afternoon, the whole community will congregate to hear Val D. Bias, NHF’s CEO, recap the highlights of 2013 and project what the future holds. Don’t miss Alex ­Borstein in her new role as spokesperson for My Life, Our Future, NHF’s genotyping initiative. Borstein is an accomplished comedienne, best known as Ms. Swan from FOX’s MADtv and the voice of Lois Griffin from FOX’s Family Guy.

Topics for the educational sessions include: an update on NHF’s genotyping initiative, effective communication with your doctor, using social media for advocacy and an update on hepatitis C. There will also be sessions on parents and children managing transitions together, the challenges of plastic surgery, an update on gene therapy clinical trials and the opportunity to ask the experts in Spanish.

NHF’s Annual Meeting provides several opportunities for people to remember the past or get help with their current issues. At the “Remembrance and Celebration of Life” on Friday, everyone is invited to share stories and tributes to loved ones who have passed away or conquered major challenges. Rap sessions on Saturday are held in smaller, more intimate settings in which spouses and their partners or families with inhibitors, for example, can meet in groups with a facilitator.

Limber Up

To combat chair fatigue, NHF has some active sessions to stretch your limbs and have fun, too. New this year, “Muscle Chisel for Men with Bleeding Disorders” combines boxing moves, sports training drills and strength training—all set to music. This low-impact cardio session is led by a certified trainer and physical therapist. All attendees can get the kinks out at the eighth annual Fit ‘n’ Fun Walk/Run. NHF’s Physical Therapy Working Group will lead participants in a series of stretches before heading out around the beautiful hotel grounds, with Disneyland® Park in the distance.

Meet and mingle

Social functions help people unwind after a day of note-taking and absorbing information. The Exhibit Hall beckons attendees with tantalizing smells, sounds and sights. Some years, there are fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, and others there is popcorn, ice cream and candy to satisfy your sweet tooth. And games with prizes, raffles and giveaways make walking through the Exhibit Hall fun no matter your age.

On Thursday and Friday evenings, the After Glow Lounge, sponsored by Baxter, is a fun place to unwind, enjoy snacks and meet other night owls in a party atmosphere. Saturday’s NHF Official Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon typically is a standing-room-only event as attendees enjoy a delicious lunch and celebrate the winners of the NHF Awards of Distinction in Programs for chapters and Awards of Excellence for healthcare providers and other individuals.

Our three-day gathering goes out with a bang as our Final Night Event is a night at the theme park—Disneyland Park in the dark. Biogen Idec Hemophilia is the sponsor for this event. First we’ll eat a buffet dinner at the hotel, then board buses for Disneyland. Kids of all ages will enjoy fireworks over the Sleeping Beauty Castle. There will be plenty of time to explore Disneyland, hop on a few rides, play a game or two and take in a show.

If you haven’t firmed up plans to attend NHF’s Annual Meeting, there is still time to register