Norman Scherzer - LRG Executive Director

Norman Scherzer – LRG Executive Director

The Life Raft Group is proud to celebrate the 7th anniversary of our biennial Life Fest convention. At this unique event, hundreds of patients and caregivers have the opportunity to gather for a weekend of camaraderie and unprecedented access to global leaders in the field. Each year brings a wealth of new information about the latest advancements in GIST that patients eagerly await to hear.

This year’s Life Fest, Friday, November 7 to Sunday, November 9, will be held at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe,100 Frank W. Burr Boulevard in Teaneck, New Jersey. The venue is easily accessible from Newark, LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy or Teterboro airports.

The patient/family member/caregiver LRG Member fee to participate in this event is the same as in previous years: $155 per person for the entire weekend, because of the generous support from companies like Novartis, Bayer, Pfizer and others. We do have a limited number of scholarships available to patients, family members and/or caregivers seeking to enhance their GIST awareness, regardless of their financial situation. Scholarships are made possible by the generosity of  the LRG Board of Directors and donors.

Life Fest Agenda

Life Fest 2014 kicks off on Friday, November 7 at 3:00pm with registration and moves right into our cocktail reception at 5:00 pm with the backdrop of an amazing display of our 100,000 origami boats that have been made by the GIST community and their supporters from around the world based on a global effort to come together for a common goal and raise awareness about this disease. Our collection of origami boats was part of The Life Raft Group’s launch of GIST Awareness Day with our outreach and advocacy efforts, and we will share our call-to-action advocacy plan with Life Fest’s participants.

Our dinner and awards ceremony will follow on Friday evening, where we honor top-notch professionals in the field of GIST. The honorees include: the Clinician of the Year Award being awarded to Dr. Robert Maki in recognition of the unique way he brings research into practice for his patients, straddling the research and clinical worlds. Dr. Maki is personally responsible for saving countless lives. The Jeroen Pit Science Award will be given to Dr. Anette Duensing in for her contribution to research and her art of conveying complex scientific concepts to the layperson. Ms. Jayne Bressington of PAWS-UK GIST will receive the Global Award of Excellence to honor the unique way she brings researchers, clinicians, and advocates together with the goal of helping young patients with GIST. The Allan Tobes Volunteer Award will be given to Ms. Dina Wiley for her outstanding service to the LRG and her local outreach work in the California region. We will also induct the LRG Research Team and the Stivarga Development Team into the GIST Hall of Fame, as well as honoring Mr. Brian Behrens with the Arnie Kwart Philanthropist of the Year Award and Bayer with the Patient Outreach award.

On Saturday, November 8, the lineup will include a “LRG Research Update” and “GIST Update,” a “Drug Development Panel” and “Ask the Expert Q & A” sessions.“ This year, we are excited to include some holistic type workshops to our breakouts such as “Art Therapy” and “Meditation.” As part of the holistic approach to the weekend, there will be a full hour beginner yoga session on Saturday and Sunday mornings to start our days. We will also have massage therapists on site for a nominal fee to help you ease your way through the weekend, so make sure you sign up early. Some of the usual yet extremely important workshops such as “Coping for Patients” and “Coping for Caregivers” to “Side-Effects Management” will also be featured. On Saturday night, we will be taken by bus from New Jersey to Times Square in NYC and one other NYC location for sightseeing and dinner.

On Sunday, November 9, we will have a “Clinical Trials Update,” and “Personalized Medicine and GIST Survival Strategies” sessions. The weekend will end with some closing remarks from LRG’s Executive Director, Norman Scherzer. We promise a really informative, fun-filled and interactive weekend for you with the opportunity to meet experts and connect with friends. We hope to see you in Teaneck, New Jersey! To learn more about Life Fest and keep up to date with the agenda and presenters, click here.