The first meeting was a huge success…
Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen
The Health Freedom Expo in Long Beach, California (March 2, 3rd, and 4th, 2012), the first official meeting between the North American Health Freedom Movement and the Autism Parents, was way, way bigger than I thought it would be….
People that know me soon figure out that I’m on the telephone constantly. Bluetooth in my car makes driving just another office for me. Telephone conversations with key people are very important, for it is the network that makes things happen.
Since I know the key people in the Health Freedom Movement, I know, beforehand, what they will say, for instance, in a speech at the Health Freedom Expo. We already talked about it at length, of course, on the phone. So, I don’t need to be there to hear it again.
With that said, no one in the Movement would be surprised that I would show up at the Expo three hours after it started with my phone in my ear. I had, of course, stopped at LAX to pick up attorney Bob Reeves (from Kentucky).
When I walked into the convention center front door, right there, in the center’s prime location, was the Registration Booth for the Health Freedom Expo – and the line of people there to get their weekend tickets was massive.
Massive – and Friday is generally the “slow day.”
I turned around and looked down the main hallway, where the lectures were, and there were people milling as far as I could see, all the way down to the far doors, a very long ways away.
I saw Julie Whitman Kline over at one end of the eight station Registration Booth, and went over to Julie and asked “Ummm, how is the attendance?” She pointed to the line, and further down the hallway, and smiled, saying “Very good, very good..”
I was stunned. Yes, getting the Health Freedom Movement together with the Autism parents was a good idea, but hey, the first time you do something, or try something new, no one expects instant success. It just doesn’t happen.
But this time it did. That Registration line continued like that ALL DAY, and all day on Saturday. At 1:00PM on Sunday I walked by the booth again and there were at least a dozen people buying tickets – and the last lecture was at 5:00PM.
I went down the escalator to the Exhibit Hall, which hadn’t opened until Eleven AM, and it too had people milling everywhere.
Oh my, again…
Last year I wrote about the high energy at the event. The air tingled. This year it tingled more, and it didn’t stop for a minute. George Noory’s panel discussion was in a room that only, generally, holds 500 people – but there was another two to three hundred lining the walls. It was the same for Kevin Trudeau. And remember, we were running five tracks simultaneously (five speakers in five different rooms at the same time), along with an Exhibit Hall.
Julie had the good sense to deal with the food problem. I mean, who wants to eat “convention food” at at a health expo, right? So at the last row of booths there were two food booths, one Indian food, and the other Japanese food. There was always a line, but there was ample table space.
My days at Expos like this are spent buttonholing people I haven’t seen in a while, and this first day, Friday, I was on a mission to get the Health Freedom leadership into a previously unannounced meeting with the Autism Parents leadership at 6:30 PM next door at the Hyatt Regency. It was a meet and greet, putting a face on people whose names you have heard before so that they too can buttonhole each other throughout the coming weekend event.
When you see the sheer size of this kind of event you can imagine how hard it was to find everybody, for they too have schedules. But at 6:30 PM on that Friday night, for the first time, officially, the North American Health Freedom Movement met the Autism Parents one on one. I was the host, so to speak, and I wouldn’t let groups of people who already knew each other conglomerate. I literally dragged people from one batch to the other.
And, it worked. From then on, all weekend, I’d pass people grouping in hallways, at lunch tables, for quick meetings, exchanging business cards quickly so they could move onto the next thing.
As expected, there were a few instances where some speakers were under-attended due to the last-minute, so-to-speak, arrangements, but that was not the norm.
For the regular attendee there was so much going on here at this event that they could not possibly see everything – they would have to choose. Look at this speaker schedule just for Friday (the slower day). It was a power house. You could have even caught me, Tim Bolen, at 2:00 PM on a panel called “Malfeasance in the Media,” along with Age of Autism’s Dan Olmstead. Andrew Wakefield, and Dr. David Lewis.
On Saturday the energy went up, as I predicted, even higher. Check this schedule. One conflict, unavoidable with the sheer size of the event, was at 5:00PM when Kevin Trudeau spoke in Room 101 and Mark and David Geier were in 103C.
On Sunday, the schedule was equally packed with stars. I moderated a panel on “Vaccine Politics,” which included powerful, and knowledgeable people.
The Side Note…
I met a lot of wonderful people from the Autism World this weekend. And, of course, I got to reconnect with long time friends in the Health Freedom Movement. Generally speaking I took Monday off to rest and think about everything that happened. So this morning I was primed and ready to go – back on the telephone.
This conference came together as a joint effort between two groups that, frankly, blend quite well. The problem we will now face is that in May and June, just three weeks apart, the groups that came together in Long Beach are going to have two separate conferences, each planned a year in advance, and leadership for both groups is planning on attending both.
We need, of course, to make sure both conferences are incredibly successful. Autism One is scheduled for May 25 – 29, 2011, The Westin Hotel, Lombard, Illinois. Autism One’s opening statement says:
“We are thrilled to bring you the, “Autism Recovery on a Budget: Empowering Parents,” conference registration for FREE.
Recovery depends on education, not on how thick your wallet is. But first you need to know how to help your child. You need to know the most effective treatments and therapies. You need to know when certain interventions are appropriate and when they are not. You need to know hope is real.
It’s time to open not only our hearts, but our home. And so it is with open arms we invite you to come and share with the AutismOne family what we have learned collectively over the past decade. It’s time to embrace every family affected.
Currently constructed autism costs too much. One of the biggest obstacles to recovering children has always been the cost of educating parents. We believe answers need to be free.
Each year we learn how to do more with less and each year the conference is a reflection of the ever-growing body of accumulated knowledge.
Each year we learn more about how to prevent autism or minimize its effect. Each year we learn more about dealing with autism in adolescence and adulthood. Each year we learn more about the underlying biomedical issues at work.
This year we will have the chance to share with you what we have learned whether you are a woman thinking about having a child or a parent with a child aging out of the school system or a mom facing autism for the first time.
Read their website. There’s more. Do they mean what they say? Yup. I met them this weekend, and they mean exactly what they say.
The next Health Freedom Expo is scheduled for June 15-17, 2012 at the beautiful Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center in Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb. You’ll be hearing much more, from me, about this.
What we did…
My goal, with this was, as I said “to get the leadership of the Health Freedom Movement and the Autism Parents into the same building to meet each other, officially, for the first time. To talk about commonalities. And strategies. Become friends. Plan a war.”
It worked. It is the beginning.
Tim Bolen – Consumer Advocate