What Amy Van Bergen Will Miss Most About DSAIA 2017 (or Can Someone Get This Ol' Retired Lady Out of My Hair for a Few Days?)

Sat, January 14, 2017 2:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Baloo Van Bergen

You know those jokes about the retired old guy driving his wife bonkers? Well, I am here to give you the dog-gone truth about my recently-retired Girl and all her groaning about missing #DSAIA2017. In fact, it’s been a downright CAT-astrophe, as far as yours truly is concerned.

Who am I, you ask? Why, I am but a simple, handsome (yet pawsitively humble) Portuguese Water Dog named Baloo and my Girl is Amy. Amy retired from the DSA of Central Florida in April 2016 and we have been leading a life off the leash ever since.

Back to me and my complaints. When I hear her moaning about missing Cincinnati this year, she sighs about it being the first DSAIA conference she will skip since 2007 B.B (Before Baloo.) Fortunately, I distract the Girl often by barking at killer squirrels in my backyard…and sometimes, I distract her by barking at nothing at all. Between all that barking, squeaky toy enticements and full body massages (mine, not hers), here is some of what she will miss most:

  • Nonprofit with Balls author Vu Le (Did someone say balls? Tennis? Soccer? I love ‘em all!) My Girl says that every nonprofit professional should subscribe to Vu Le’s blog and be ready in your chairs first thing Friday morning (Sit! Stay!) because this presenter will make you think and laugh.
  • Getting in on the ground floor of the latest research or grant opportunities such as those presented by Global Down Syndrome Foundation. My Girl says nonprofit leaders almost never have the chance to meet in person with executives like Michelle Sie Whitten to find out what they are really looking for in applications…it’s a FUR-bulous chance for DS groups of any size.
  • The plethora (is that some kind of amazing new kong toy I don’t know about???) of topics and workshops ranging from prenatal outreach to DSWorks employment programs to managing board/staff/volunteers. Every topic, every expert, for every sized DS organization.
  • The people…the friends, the leader groups, the mentors. This seems in-CAT-ceivable to me. Afterall, I am sure that I am enough to meet all my Girl’s needs. But I have heard her talk about: the power and passion of Jawanda Mast preaching about advocacy or inclusion, the insights and laughter she’s gained from Rob Snow as well as nuggets of dog chow (maybe she said wisdom but that doesn’t make sense) that she’s gained from the likes of Anne Mancini, Heather Bradley or Jim Hudson. Running a Down syndrome support group can be a lonely business, especially for those without their own Baloos. My Girl says this is where you can meet and share with the best of the best.

So, don’t fur-get to register for DSAIA2017 which will be held dually with the Buddy Walk® Conference Feb. 23-26 in Cincinnati, Ohio. And if anyone wants to get the Girl out of my fur for a few days, please invite her to attend with you because this retirement thing has been RUFF on me.


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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