I anticipated my first National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) Annual Meeting with a lot of excitement, but without many expectations. My family and I were honored to receive one of NHF’s scholarships, but I really didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, I was totally surprised by the massiveness of the meeting. I had no idea so many people attended and that there were so many sessions. So many, in fact, that I had to send for CDs of some sessions I was unable to attend due to time conflict.
I give much credit to NHF’s staff and volunteers for the planning and execution of this huge event. Everyone was so helpful, and the meeting was incredibly well organized. Industry went over the top with their exhibit displays, and the Exhibit Hall was always a frenzy of activity.
As for my first visit to New Orleans, it was awesome. I loved the architecture, the ambiance of the city, the food and mostly the music. I love jazz, and my family and I enjoyed the street musicians, as well as the bands playing in the small clubs. After the meeting was over, I spent some extra time exploring the city a bit more. I even went on a swamp tour, which was great fun.
My favorite part of the Annual Meeting was the Opening Session. With nearly 2,400 people attending the meeting, the Opening Session was packed. There was so much high energy as Val Bias, CEO of NHF, unveiled one exciting thing after another. I was so amazed by all that is going on in the world of bleeding disorders.
Due to the nature of my bleeding disorder, I found Victory for Women, NHF’s new women’s health and blood disorders initiative, to be very exciting. To promote Victory for Women, NHF created a beautiful red silk scarf and a 2011 calendar of women with bleeding disorders. The pictures for the calendar were taken by professional photographer Patrick McMullan, whose sister died in 1979, at 25 years old, of a severe bleed related to her von Willebrand disease.
The Annual Meeting was all wrapped up by a Mardi Gras party on the last night. It included great decorations, music and food. The walk from the bus to the party took us through Mardi Gras World, a hall of many Mardi Gras floats from the past and new ones in the making. Then there was the beautiful walk by the river, reflecting the stars on a clear, gorgeous night. What an ending!