The Amputee Coalition’s National Conference welcomed a record number of attendees in 2019. Over 1,300 amputees, family, friends, caregivers and healthcare professionals gathered at the Marriott Rivercenter on the famous Riverwalk for the 3-day event held in San Antonio, Texas.
At the Opening Ceremony on July 25, 2019, costumed dancers performed a traditional dance for an excited crowd. A panel of featured guests shared touching personal stories of trauma, trials and triumph. Motivational speaker, athlete, and amputee John Register shared his journey and uplifting message. Speakers were rewarded with cheers and whistles from a very moved audience.
Many attendees participated in clinics and first-time activities such as “First Swim” or “First Dance” classes, sponsored by OPAF. Adrianne Haslet, professional ballroom dancer and instructor, who lost her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing, prepared participants for the Saturday dance party event with lessons in the Texas Two-Step and the Rhumba. Some attendees registered to take a private tour of the state-of-the-art Center for the Intrepid to learn about technologies designed for rehabilitation, research, education and training.
People selected from over 100 motivational and educational sessions and browsed dozens of exhibits. They heard from doctors and experts about the latest treatments and technologies. Groups with similar interests shared personal stories and support in roundtable discussions. Classes were available to learn how to start and manage a support group or to become a Certified Peer Visitor (CPV). Attendees learned about the training courses available from the Amputee Coalition to be able to advocate effectively at the local, state and federal level, which is vital to making changes to policies that impact the limb loss and limb difference community.
Attendees enjoyed a Gala Dinner and danced the night away as the conference drew to a close on Saturday evening. People of all ages and amputation levels at different stages of their journey formed groups of excited discussion and laughter as they shared their experiences from the past few days. People that have attended past conferences rekindled relationships and new attendees instantly formed new friendships as they share a common bond. Many attendees described it as a life-changing experience.
As this year’s theme “People, Purpose, Passion” implied, people returned home with purpose and passion ready to share their experience with their families, friends, coworkers, support groups and local communities. The Amputee Coalition National Conference is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for those dealing with limb loss and limb difference to celebrate life, share personal experiences and learn from others who really understand what they are going through. It is important to know that you are not alone.
Next year’s conference will be held in Washington, DC. We hope you can make plans to join us!