Thursday, July 24, 2008

LIVESTRONG Summit July 24th

We were scheduled to meet at the Ohio State House at 10:00AM. We unexpectedly were able to move all of the stuff over the day before so we were allowed to start late. Last night a group of us planned to meet at Starbucks across the street from our hotel at 9:30AM.

At 9:30AM I met Jeff at Starbucks and we got coffees and waited 10 minutes for the others. No one showed up so we headed over to the Statehouse which was only 2 blocks away. We arrived and took pictures of the LIVESGTRONG Summit Registration sign out front. It was a funny feeling entering the Statehouse knowing that I was about to help set things up and work the registration booths. I suddenly remembered entering the LIVESTRONG Summit in 2006 at the Austin, TX convention center. I was by myself and did not know anyone, but I felt like I was about to do something special. Here we are close to 21 months later and hundreds of new delegates were about to feel the same way.

Jeff and I got upstairs to the rotunda level and we saw the booths were already up and we were asked to start moving the bags from the office and bring them down to the booths. We were also asked to open all of the boxes which had the new yellow “Vote YELLOW” tee-shirts and lay them out. For the next 2 hours we continued setting up for the Summit and everything ran smoothly.

Registration began at 12:00PM and we started to get some arrivals. The process of registering a person was fairly simple. We were asked to greet them with a smile, be pleasant, check them off a list, give them one LIVESGTRONG Summit bag (filled with goodies) and hand them a tee-shirt. Some delegates had special requirements for food so we had to explain to them what to do during the weekend. We also had to briefly explain their credential bag which also included their weekend agenda and a map of the campus. If there was anything we could not answer we were asked to get an LAF staff member (Tara, Brenda or Glen.)

Registration was fun. I worked the booth with Brenda, Lisa, Laura and Frieda. I did my best to bring a smile to their faces and I think I accomplished that. These were four outstanding women that I feel honored to have worked with on this day. We shared a ton of laughs. Jeff worked on the other booth with Ron, LauraLynn, Larry and Carmelita. They were all very nice people and I certainly know I made a few live long friends.

LIVESTRONG Summit 2008 registration begins

During the registration I kept meeting people I have been talking to via email or facebook. I also meet a ton of people who new me from my blog, fundraising with Team Down One and my posts on the Challenge/Summit forums on I was taken back at times on how many people told me that I helped them in one form or another. It really made me feel extra good. To know that I am able to help people either directly or indirectly is awesome. I just try to help! I do not need or expect anything in return, but it is always nice to hear someone say “thank you for helping me in the fight against cancer.”

I was able to meet Russ Perez. He is a testicular cancer survivor and I have been reading his blog since the start of the year. I sent him the information on the summit and we have talked from time to time. He was excited to get the weekend start. I also met our International LIVESTRONG ARMY leader Henrike. She traveled over 15 + hours to get to Columbus. I was pleased to see she made it given the great distance she had to travel. She is a true leader in the fight against cancer.

I worked the registration until 4:15 and then I had to leave and go back to my hotel to wash up as I was a sweaty mess. I had to get ready for the Presidential Town Hall on Cancer with Senator John McCain. I was asked, along with Ron Bye and 28 others, by the LAF to take part on the event by sitting on stage behind with the Senator, Lance Armstrong and Paula Zahn. I was also asked to submit a question which I could ask Senator McCain or Lance during the Town Hall. I found out my question was approved which was an awesome feeling. My question was very simple.

“As a young adult cancer survivor I have learned that we need to educated our children early and often. What are you plans to start a national movement to educate our children on cancer and other critical diseases?”

We got to the Mershon Auditorium and we asked to wait a few minutes until more delegates got there. Once are group was near complete we went inside backstage to the press area. We had to sit back there for over an hour while the program started with some inspirational videos and speeches. It was a bit strange to not see what was going on, but that is the price you pay if you are back stage. We were all in our Vote-Yellow tee-shirts and so was everyone in the audience. When we were finally asked to go out we lined up, walked out and sat down. Then Lance, Paula and Senator McCain came out.

The crowd went nuts cheering. Given the amount of people I talked to I can tell you most delegates are democrats so I will say most of the cheers were most likely for Lance and for the fact that McCain was there. (NOTE: Senator Obama was also asked to attend but declined, which made even the die-hard democrats a bit miffed.) For me I was extremely pleased to be there for such a historic occasion. This was a cancer forum which we were there to hold the politicians accountable. Though only Senator McCain was there we had to keep our focus on the objective. I for one was looking forward to the night.

Lance opened it up with a speech which got loud cheers, as always. Then Senator McCain gave an opening speech. I thought he keep to his points he has stated in the past. It was a good speech but nothing new.

During the town hall portion Lance and Paula asked Senator McCain several questions on what he will do if he becomes President of the USA. He stated he would increase funding, but would have to work with Congress to eliminate needless spending in other areas such as but not limited to stop bills that require us to build a 250 million dollar bridge that connects the mainland in Alaska to an island which only has 50 people. This was just one of the examples he gave which made me think that I really need to keep up with how our country spends out money. That bridge example just shows how incompetent our Congress can be with spending.

Senator McCain also stressed that he wants to hold the states accountable for not properly spending their cigarette taxes. He must have brought this up 6-7 times during the town hall. Paula kept bringing it up too which started to get annoying. We all know smoking is the #1 cause of lung cancer, but it is not the only reason so I was hoping for less tobacco talk and more substance on all cancers and his plan.

I should also point out that the Town Hall seemed rushed. It was clear Senator McCain had to get out other there at a specific time as the TV screens facing the stage where flashing “Please wrap it up” for 10-15 minutes. Unfortunately for me I was unable to ask my question. He was given two questions from those of us on stage out of the seven that were approved. The event wrapped up and we were all off to do our own thing for the night.

My opinion on the Town Hall……it was not long enough. Senator McCain did not blow me away with his speech or answers to any question. He did make everyone laugh when he has microphone issues and said “this microphone brought to you by the Democratic party.” Or something to that affect. I was left wanting more, but I also admit I was honored to be there and it is only the beginning for us to hold our candidates accountable.

After the Town Hall I was tired from the long day so I went back to Bar 41 at the Renaissance. I ended up sitting down for a drink and shortly thereafter a women came over and asked if I was Brian Dowd. I said yes and we started talking. She was an ovarian cancer survivor and wanted to talk to me about an article for a paper she was involved with in Portland Oregon. A few minutes into the conversation I asked her when she got into in last night. She said around 12AM. I immediately knew she was the women who accidentally tried to access my room the night before. Funny how things work out! For the rest of the night I talked to Karyne and we had a good time. Minus the yelling of the group of women behind us which included my sister and several other ladies. LOL!