author of Feeding Eden

Food Allergy Blogger Conference Part I: The Moment of Obligation

I believe a game-changing food allergy event will happen this November 2013 in Las Vegas. It's called FABC Food Allergy Blogger Conference. Jenny Sprague, food allergy advocate (see her resource site Multiple Food Allergy Help,) mother and my new role model is the originator of FABC. How is FABC different from previous FARE conferences and events? FAB represents the first time that our food allergy community will gather in mutual support without affiliation or obligation. Yes, some attendees may participate by walking in the Las Vegas FARE Walk, yes we will educate ourselves on the latest food allergy medical advances and yes we will bond over the commonalities in our challenges. But we will also have an opportunity, as individuals, to enrich our unique forms of food allergy advocacy by sharing what we do and how we do it. We will match faces to names and have generous time to truly connect as people, parents, doctors, researchers, writers, CEO's, chefs, bakers, musicians, and more.

Jenny Sprague has envisioned multi-faceted, multi-dimensional event with speakers, panels, fun and safe food. (More specifics will follow in future posts.) As someone particularly daunted by event planning of any kind, I was facinated by Jenny's "moment of obligation" - - the steps leading up to her decision to take on this incredible task instead of waiting and wishing that someone else could make it happen. I asked and was planning to paraphrase her answer. But after reading her honest account I've decided that her rendition reflects both Jenny's infectious courage and our shared need for personal connection. According to Jenny the story unfolds roughly like this:

I went to BlogHer in NYC last August, and Loved it, but the whole time I felt like I wanted THAT experience but with all my food allergy peeps! Then we went to the Sanofi summit, and shortly after that I went to the Mylan summit. The culmination of these events, getting to meet some of the people I have followed for years, and now come to call friends, inspired the idea. I hinted to Sanofi and to Mylan that we needed these educational summits- but for everyone- [neither took the bait]

The night the Mylan summit ended, in NYC, in February, Caroline Moassessi and I dined together. It was during that meal I shared my idea about a large food allergy blogger conference. She thought this was a really good idea, and became excited as we discussed the idea and potential. She said "You should DO this!" Which until that night had NEVER occurred to me. I kind of laughed it off, but the seed had been planted.

A few days later I shared the idea with Elizabeth Goldenberg, with the idea that she is smart, and level headed, and would tell me its a foolish idea- but she didn't! She too loved the idea. I then spoke to Colette Martin, expecting her to tell me it was a pipe dream- but SHE didn't! Each person Loved the idea, the desire for us all to come together, to learn, share, hug, meet!  I also brought the idea initially to Elisa Camahort-Page, a co-founder of BlogHer to see if they had interest, She told me they were booked for this year, but she generously offered to be an adviser and has been generous in her guidance and help! SO with that, the dream became my project! 

"Project" indeed. Jenny has embarked with the purest of motives. To me, the FABC conference is not about showcasing ourselves as much as it is about emulating the values set forth from Jenny's conception: What can I do that needs to happen? More to come on this undertaking and it's implications for progress and change in our growing food allergy community...



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