August 2012: SBA Concludes National Conference

The Spina Bifida Association (SBA) concluded its 39th National Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana with more than 700 people in attendance. This Conference brought individuals together from around the country to learn about the latest research in Spina Bifida, to see new products showcased by exhibitors, and to celebrate our collective journey.

The 39th National Conference opening reception kicked off the three-day event with participants exuding smiles and enthusiasm as guide dogs captivated the young, magicians performed tricks, vendors listened intently to the needs of our community, and attendees made new friends.

The opening plenary, What Happens in Vegas, Can't Stay in Vegas: Highlights from the Second World Congress, examined the current state of research and care in Spina Bifida and the need for future work. The talks highlighted the work presented earlier in the year during SBA's Second World Congress, an international symposium for researchers, scientists, and health care professionals focused on Spina Bifida. In part, the panel discussion included updates on the Lower Urinary Tract Refunctionalization by Somatic/Autonomic Nerve Root Transposition also known as the XIAO Procedure as well as the fetal surgery study, Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS).

This year's Celebration Luncheon allowed SBA to take a moment to publicly thank our Chapters and community members who work so hard to make meaningful contributions to the understanding and appreciation of Spina Bifida. Once the awards concluded, Jean Driscoll, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame inductee, educator, and Boston Marathon winner, inspired the audience with a moving speech about her triumphs and challenges leaving the attendees celebrating her victories and their own achievements.

SBA's Twitter and Facebook users remained engaged throughout the event with updates on sessions, speakers, and events. (Join us on Twitter and Facebook to stay in the know.)

Ultimately, the Conference theme, Gearing Up for The Future, served as a great descriptor of where SBA is headed in providing more education to our community. During the Conference, Board Chair George Sturm announced an exciting new initiative for 2013: In celebration of SBA's 40th year of service, SBA will be "going on the road" with Education Days held around the country. The intent of these special days, held at an affordable price, is to bring more education than ever to people with Spina Bifida in underserved areas of the country. Locations will be announced during Awareness Month in October.

The National Conference will be held again in June 2014 with the location TBA.

Conference sessions
If you were unable to attend this year's Conference or didn't have a chance to attend all the sessions on your list, a sampling of the presentations are available on the 39th National Conference Web site.

4b4the4th thanks
The Conference also marked the conclusion of the 2012 4b4the4th campaign which raised $56,000 for programs and services benefiting those living with Spina Bifida. SBA would like to send a special thank you to all of our many team captains who helped us exceed our goal with their efforts. In particular, thank you to Erika Hoke, the team captain winner of the 4b4the4th campaign who raised over $10,000. Find out more about Erika and why she gives.

Overall this year's Conference once again demonstrated that we are a vibrant community committed to the well-being of individuals with Spina Bifida. Thanks to all who participated!