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Make This Year Your First Year

Fri, October 25, 2019 10:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


This week's blog was guest written by Willie Cox, executive director of the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association in Dayton, Ohio and he was elected to the DSAIA board of directors in 2019.

Doing anything for the first time can be a roller coaster ride of emotion. One might feel excited, indifferent, apprehensive, or right down terrified. You may even feel several sensations simultaneously. Nevertheless, when the smoke clears and the dust settles, you garner a new experience, and perhaps, a broadened perspective. This is how I remember my first DSAIA conference.

In many ways, I did not know what to expect. Don’t get me wrong; I did read the digital brochure. I knew who would be speaking. I understood the list of topics. I checked out the roster of great sponsors. I wrapped my head around the who, what, when, and where; I was just unclear about the “Why?”

Why would I take time away from my “to-do” list just to do one more thing? Why would board members and volunteers use vacation time to go spend a few days with people they do not know? Why drop the cash for a conference when it could be used for programming, awareness, or … vacation? Really, the question in my mind was, “Is it worth the investment?”

To answer in a word, yes!

For a few days, I escaped the tyranny of the urgent. You know what I mean, don’t you? All those things that constantly pull at you like a curious toddler demanding your attention. Those things that fill your day; but, leave you feeling unfulfilled at the end of that day. Those few days at the conference forced me to flee my little world – but it welcomed me to see the universe.

Like a skilled ophthalmologist, the conference helped clear my vision. The experience allowed me to look through the lenses of other leaders – to gain the perspectives of other professionals who desire that I succeed. It reminded me why I do what I do. These few days enabled me to see what could be, and fueled a conviction that is should be.

I left my first conference wonderfully exhausted. I left with ideas and strategies – some to implement immediately and others to marinade in my mind. I left with renewed excitement and an increased sense of direction. I left anticipating an opportunity to return. I exited the conference universe and made my trek back to my little world, equipped to make a big difference.

So, how about it? Are you ready to make a big difference? Do you desire to be a better leader, a more productive board member, or a high value volunteer? If so, then I invite you to hop on the roller coaster and take that ride. Come see the universe!


I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio

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Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action started as a conference bringing together outstanding leadership from Down syndrome organizations around the country. Learn More

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