Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fired Up and Ready for CHADD 2012!

In less than two weeks, Nov. 8-10, 2012, CHADD's 24th Annual International Conference takes place right in my backyard! The Hyatt Regency near San Francisco International airport.

I've been so busy helping to plan events (and dealing with medical challenges) that I'm far behind in my posting here. My apologies! It's been for a good cause.

If you're already registered for the conference, great! Please say hello if you see me. If you're still pondering, I encourage you to register today.  This is a tremendous opportunity to cost-effectively learn a lot about ADHD in a short amount of time from top experts.

You'll find something for everyone: adults, parents, family members, teachers, coaches, mental health professionals, and everyone involved in the criminal-justice system. There are presentations from top experts as well as opportunities to chat informally with researchers presenting their posters on ADHD-related topics. There are networking groups for special interests and talks on every possible fact of ADHD.

Now I'd like to tell you about four events of particular interest to me, with more details below:

See excerpts and learn about the making of "Gigante"
1. CHADD's 25 Birthday Gala event.

As the evening's emcee, I have the honor of presenting our guest speakers: the dynamic duo behind the Sundance Awards-bound documentary Gigante, about Major League Ballplayer Andrés Torres and his rise from humble beginnings in Puerto Rico to being voted Most Inspirational Player by his World Series-winning teammates with the San Francisco Giants.

Diagnosed late in life with ADHD, Torres has passionately embraced the cause of creating more awareness, candidly sharing his struggles so that others do not suffer as he did for many years for lack of knowledge.  (Yes, that's Andrés at right, passionately embracing his wife, Soannie.)

2. The CHADD conference's first-ever Adult ADHD Panel

As the originator (with inspiration from Chris Ziegler Dendy's groundbreaking Teen Panels) and moderator, I hope to make it a tradition! Five adults from the local group that I moderate in Palo Alto for Silicon Valley CHADD plus the former coordinator of CHADD of Northern California, San Diego psychotherapist Lew Mills, Ph,D., will talk candidly about their lives pre- and post-diagnosis, the positive impact they've experienced in seeking support in face-to-face Adult ADHD discussion groups, and much more. Takes place Saturday, Nov. 10 10:30 to noon.

3. The "Lunch with Luminaries."

This is a fund-raising auction where you bid to have lunch with four ADHD experts.  I am honored to be joining three much-admired experts and personal friends:  Patricia Quinn, MD, Ari Tuckman, Ph.D., and Chris Ziegler Dendy. Takes place Saturday, Nov. 10, 12:00 pm.

4. ADHD and the Criminal Justice System. 

ADHD is over-represented in the criminal-justice system, and this annual program at the CHADD conference aims to curb that trend by creating ADHD-education outreach to the local police departments and others in the criminal-justice system (district attorneys, probation officers, court official, and so forth).

As the unofficial photographer for the Atlanta event, I saw first-hand how passionately the audience, following talks by the experts, engaged with each other about these issues (photo, left). 

Headed by CHADD's favorite "British Bobbies" (two law-enforcement professionals from England named Phil Anderton and Stephen Brown); psychiatrist, researcher, and professor Regina Bussing; and psychiatrist-researcher Catrina Wilkins.

This event is free and the public is encouraged to attend, so please spread the word to anyone you think will be interested (either already attending the conference or living within driving distance). Takes place Thursday, Nov. 8, 1:30-4:30 pm.  At the conference hotel: SFO Hyatt Regency in Burlingame

More details below on the exiting evening we have planned for you at the gala Friday night!

CHADD's 25 Birthday Gala Event - Friday, Nov. 9, 7-9:30 pm.

Following a fabulous dinner and my short factual-fun presentation on "Great Moments in ADHD History," our featured guest speakers take the stage. Business leader William Chang and Sundance Award-winning director Chusy Haney-Jardine are the dynamic duo behind the Sundance competition-bound documentary, Gigante.  They will talk about their own journeys in ADHD discovery, their passion for making films that make a difference, and the making of Gigante (two powerful preview videos here- no longer available).

Their Plan A production company describes the film this way:

Andrés Torres, in San Francisco parade for Giants World Series win
Gigante is an upcoming, feature-length documentary about Andrés “Yungo” Torres–a grateful, perseverant man with ADHD who happens to be the center-fielder for the San Francisco Giants. Yungo came from humble means, found rejection, mockery, and disappointment, and struggled 10 years in the minors before becoming a major league baseball player.

He has developed strategies and support systems that helped him to become a key player in the Giants' 2010 World Series win. His story inspires hope and motivates others to embrace their own challenges and never give up on their dreams

Chang, who grew up in Japan and was educated at Oxford and Harvard, is a prominent business leader and a principal owner of the San Francisco Giants. Chusy Haney-Jardine is a Sundance Award-winning director. Both are quoted, along with Torres, in this feature story in the San Francisco Chronicle. (Though Torres played with the Mets this past year, Giants fans will long remember Torres the person and player with immense fondness and admiration. He will always be a hero here in the Bay Area!)

More about Torres. He was named the Most Inspirational Player of the San Francisco Giants World Series team of 2010, has made it his mission to speak openly about having ADHD -- and the price he paid for years of ignorance. He wants to make sure that other children and adults with ADHD don't "fall through the cracks" as he did for many years, working his famously big heart out in the minor leagues but failing to make it into the major leagues. Until an observant coach mentioned ADHD.

Like many adults with late-diagnosis ADHD, Andres procrastinated in "doing something about it." But a fortuitous chain of events changed all that. Next thing he knew, he was not only playing Major League Baseball but a key part of the Giants' World Series win. 
Andres Torres with wife Soannie and Gina, right

I had the pleasure of meeting Torres during the making of Gigante, when Haney-Jardine visited my home to interview me as an Adult ADHD expert. I don't know if my filmed interview made it to the final cut, but it doesn't matter. I so enjoyed meeting Haney-Jardine and "evangelizing" on Adult ADHD. Then he asked if he could bring Torres and his lovely wife, Soannie, to my house to talk about ADHD. Of course, I'd love to meet them!  (Soannie said, "You know, we wanted to rent that house across the street but someone beat us to it."  What a coincidence. The Bay Area is a big place!)

Mind you, not being a big baseball fan at the time, I had no idea that a major celebrity and Bay Area hero was sitting on my sofa!  (For all his success and acclaim, Andres is incredibly humble.) To me at that time, he was simply another adult with ADHD who might benefit from no-nonsense talk about Adult ADHD (my specialty!). But now, of course, I am one of his biggest fans, as a player and a person. And just a little bit embarrassed at emphasizing my point a few times by poking his knee!

Shortly after, I contacted Will Chang and asked to meet with him. Anyone living in my backyard who is this dedicated to increasing ADHD awareness (by producing such a powerful film), I had to meet!  He graciously agreed to meet me at a Starbucks, and we talked for at least an hour. His story alone would make for a great solo talk at the banquet. But to have him and the super creatively charged director Chusy Haney-Jardine and excerpts of this documentary? Truly, it will be a night to remember. I look forward to seeing you at the banquet!

Okay, back to work for me. CHADD staff and volunteers have worked incredibly hard on planning for you the greatest conference ever. I look forward to seeing you there!

Do you plan on attending the conference this year? Have you attended in years' past? Please share your comments below.


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