Chicago, Illinois - June 27-29, 2008

 Our 15th biennial family conference, "Educate, Inspire & Connect," was an overwhelming success!! With nearly 400 registrants, this was our best attended conference ever.  Families traveled from as far as Bhutan in South Asia, Bermuda, Australia and Belgium to meet each other for the weekend.

The weekend began with a pre-event fundraiser at Harry Caray's. Foundation member Frank Osowski organized and hosted a benefit for FIRST at the famous Italian Steakhouse in downtown Chicago. Conference registrants joined Chicagoans and local celebrities for an evening of food and fun. With a local comedian and a silent auction of nearly 50 items of sports memorabilia and get-a-ways, the evening raised over $40,000 for F.I.R.S.T. Thanks to Frankie O, his family, and all the hard working volunteers for their efforts and a fantastic evening. What a way to kick-off the conference weekend!
Conference activities began first thing Friday morning, June 27, with opening remarks by Jean Pickford, Executive Director, and Foundation President, Dave Scholl. Awards were given to several members for their outstanding fundraising and volunteering achievements. Participants got to know each other with fun ice-breaker games involving beach balls, birthdates and hometowns. The "Pearls of Wisdom" segment featured comments from prior conference attendees about what past conferences meant to them and what newcomers can expect. The afternoon was filled with educational breakout sessions for adults and teens, while physicians were busy with clinical screening appointments all day. These expert dermatologists from all over the country spent the day with 96 registrants who signed up for the opportunity to meet with them to discuss their specific concerns.

Saturday and Sunday's activities included sessions on skin care, genetics, research updates and the opportunity to have questions answered by a panel of experts. The breakout groups of moms, dads, men, women and spouses provided registrants with the opportunity to discuss issues with others in the similar situation. People would congregate in all areas around the hotel to chat, share their experiences, and build lasting friendships. The teenagers experienced Chicago from a bird's eye view from the Sears Tower and enjoyed bowling and being with friends.

The highlight of the weekend was the Hawaiian Luau Dance Party held on Saturday evening. Everyone donned their Hawaiian attire and danced all night. Rising stars were discovered with many youngsters showcasing their talents during the Idols Talent Review. Many thanks to Jennifer See and Laura Hogan, local Chicagoans and members, who worked tirelessly to organize this year's raffle, securing over 100 donations of everything from creams, lotions, and cooling products, to jewelry and flat screen TV's. The weekend concluded with Sunday's farewell lunch. Many hugs were given and tears were shed as people said good bye with the hope of reuniting again in two years at the next conference.

Thank you to our 2008 Family Conference Sponsors

Chicago Backflow Prevention Systems

The Students at Just For Kids Preschool

Toyota of Naperville


View a slideshow of Conference Photos

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