Our biennial Life Fest convention was held November 7th – 9th at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe in New Jersey. It was a spectacular event filled with stories, laughter and tears shared by GISTERs, caregivers, medical professionals, pharmaceutical representatives, staff, board members, and many friends. There were over 190 people who participated throughout the weekend.
Throughout the weekend participants had an opportunity to be photographed next to an amazing display of over 130,000 origami boats that were 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. Thank you to our volunteer photographers Kim Tallau, Steve Tallau, and Michele Mattioli who not only took fabulous pictures of people by the display but also during the gala, general sessions, workshops, etc.
Our weekend was filled with general sessions and breakout workshops designed to inform, educate and provide tools for patients and caregivers alike. We are so grateful for our expert speakers and presenters who shared with us not only their knowledge but also their dedication and passion for the GIST community. Virtually all of the participants agreed that they would participate in many of our sessions and workshops again.
The New Horizons GIST conference was also held during the weekend, with six steering committee members meeting in person and via Skype to discuss critical information about GIST that impacts the global GIST patient and medical communities. The current focus is to expand its outreach through technology.
A grand thank you goes to our corporate sponsors Novartis, Bayer, Pfizer, and Genentech. Without their sponsorship this weekend would not have been possible. We also would like to thank our generous Board of Directors who made it possible for 43 patients and caregivers to participate in the event through their scholarship fund. And many, many thanks go to several volunteers* and staff who gave so much of their time, energy and talent to making this a fantastic weekend for all.
Quotes from Life Fest 2014
“This event provided hope and knowledge.”
“It was great meeting people who understand because they’ve been there.”
“…To see all of my GIST sisters and brothers, the advances in the science and treatment of GIST.”
“That there is not one GIST – but many subsets, and each needs its own treatment protocol.”
“How to get mutational testing.”
“Better understanding of GIST and side effects of Gleevec.”
“Once again – I am overwhelmed with the dedication of the whole LRG staff to make my life better. Thank you all!!”
“The whole conference was great. It’s vital to attend the conferences and learn as much as possible. I enjoyed meeting other GIST patients and hearing their “stories”.”
*Life Fest 2014 Volunteers:
Rosalia Barberi, Michael DeStefano, Garnett Draper, Margi Hughes, Ken Kerian, Lindsey Kristoff, Kate Krug, Erin MacBean, Michele Mattioli, Cora Ramadan, Bella Rocco, Kim Tallau, Phil Viega, Dina Wiley