Food Allergy Bloggers Conference: When What Happens In Vegas Must Not Stay In Vegas!

Food Allergy Bloggers Conference: When What Happens In Vegas Must Not Stay In Vegas!

There’s the brilliant Las Vegas marketing slogan, “What Happens in Vegas Must Stay In Vegas!” and then there’s the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. What we learned, the encouragement that touched our hearts, and the strong bonds of friendship and community must not stay in Vegas. It needs to come home with each of us and impact our homes, schools, and neighborhoods.

The second annual Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas (September 26-28, 2014), organized by Jenny Sprague and Homa Woodrum and held at the South Point Hotel and Casino, was a huge success! Bloggers, advocates, parents, vendors, doctors and other medical professions were among the nearly 250 people in attendance. I was so fortunate to attend as a guest of (thanks, Cheryl!) because I won their ticket giveaway during one of their Twitter parties.

The evening events were true celebrations of being together with others who understand what it is like to live with food allergies, Celiac Disease, and other medical conditions, which restrict our diets. The sense of community was evident by the joyous hugs, laughter, and smiles all around during the Meet and Greet Party and Dinner Buffet. We celebrated the achievements of four individuals who have spent a lifetime making a difference in our community and are truly pioneers: Linda Coss, Lynda Mitchell, Beth Hillson, and Dr. Paul Ehrlich. Keynote speaker, Robyn O’Brien, gave a very heartfelt speech inspiring us to support each other as our current advocacy work will have an impact on future generations.

Our sense of community and being part of a team was greatly deepened during the Wine and Sign Party and Dinner Buffet. We were so inspired by Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, Inc. who shared her empowering stories from her experiences and how it relates to our event. Did anyone notice that the meal had a tailgate theme? We were completely in awe by a surprise appearance by Jerome Bettis. Jerome is a legendary Super Bowl winner with the Pittsburg Steelers and is currently Sanofi’s (Auvi-Q) spokesperson. I was so impressed by his sweet and gentle demeanor. Since he can relate as someone with a shellfish allergy, he has a strong desire to be a great role model for our youth and encourages us to make a difference in children’s lives. Many thanks to Sanofi for the lovely meals and bringing Jerome to make our last evening together extra special.

And, the fun didn’t stop! We also had the opportunity to celebrate the many authors in our community and take home autographed copies of their books for ourselves or loved ones.

As much as I enjoyed the opportunities to socialize and hangout with my pals and advocate heroes, I also felt so incredibly empowered by the opportunity to learn together. The sessions were incredible! Topics covered issues regarding manufacturing, food labels, medical updates by allergists, nutrition, social and emotional issues such as intimacy and finding balance. The conference also had a blogger track, which was helpful for all of us regardless of whether or not we are a blogger or writer, but because the key idea is becoming an effective communicator. As we share our ideas and thoughts about the issues we face through whatever form we choose - whether it’s through blogs, books, articles, videos, art, or music - we are in fact communicating, supporting, and educating each other and the community around us.

I am so grateful to the organizers, Jenny and Homa, for having such vision and tenacity to bring us all together. Many thanks to the event sponsors, such as Sanofi, Enjoy Life Foods, Mylan, Nature’s Path, FAACT and many other sponsors! I have to mention that many of us felt like it was our birthdays when each of us were given 3 swag bags (yes, THREE) of samples and products for us to try and share. I enjoyed walking around the sponsor tables to learn about their products. If you want to learn more about the event, you can visit the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference website or search the hashtag #FABlogCon on social media. Thank you so much FAACT for inviting me to share about my experience about FABlogCon, and I look forward to FABlogCon 2015!

Disclosure: My registration was sponsored by Freedible, and I received a ticket to give away to Nut Free Wok readers, but my opinions are my own and unsolicited by the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference or Freedible.

About Sharon: Sharon Wong M.Ed. is the author and blogger of the blog, Nut Free Wok,, where Sharon blogs about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. She shares her family’s favorite recipes, why they are special to her family, and cooking techniques and suggestions to adapt Asian recipes so that they are friendly for families living with food allergies. Both of her sons have life-threatening food allergies, and she shares her experiences as a food allergy parent and advocate, as well. Sharon is also one of the co-founders of California Advocates for Food Allergies (CAFA). She continues to celebrate the passage of SB 1266 (Huff), requiring most California schools to stock epinephrine.