You may have heard that this last Saturday (October 6th) was the Washington State Fathers’ Network’s annual state conference. We are still going over the evaluation forms, but the early glimpses of the feedback from dads has been nothing but positive. We did have a couple of flipcharts out for dads to leave comments or thoughts. Here is what dads left us:
- great panel, thanks gentlemen
- our children as heros…very inspirational
- I wish every parent had a child with a disability – then they would know what true love was!!
- My child has a disability – the disability does not have her!
- Treat your kids today like a nuisance or burden and, rest-assured, they will return the favor some day.
Here is a quick synopsis of the day for those who are curious:
Gregg Osborne (Spokane) and Greg Schell (Bellevue) opened the conference and set the tone for the day. Right from the start it was apparent that we were in for another powerful day for dads (as well as needing to watch the clock to keep the content to just one day ). Greg Schell’s great four minute talk challenged the room to dream again. Dream about changing not just our lives, but the community at large. Next Mike Etzel (Island County) introduced us to this year’s Dad’s Panel. Every year this seems to get the most votes for favorite part of the conference and this year does not seem to be any different. The three WSFN dads that made up the panel graciously shared with us part of their stories.
By this time we all were ready for our first break followed by our first breakout session. When we all gathered back together again it was time to hear this year’s keynote. This time I (Mark Gabarra – Bellevue) had the pleasure of introducing the room to Steve and Gigi Murfitt. Steve and Gigi are parents to Gabe Murfitt, an amazing young man who happens to have special needs. Steve and Gigi shared a bit of their story, Gabe’s story, and a message of H.O.P.E. from Gabriel’s Foundation of HOPE. The Murfitt’s started this foundation to help out families who are dealing with their own special needs with their message of Help, Overcome, Persevere, Encourage. Oh, and there may have been a mention or two of Challenger League Baseball.
After a quick lunch, Gregg Osborne was back to facilitate the “Open Mic” time. This gave anyone attending the opportunity to take the microphone and share whatever they wanted. A number of dads took the opportunity to share what was on their mind. We had more than a couple proud moments shared that received rousing applause. Then it was time for our second breakout sessions of the day before we gathered again for our awards. This year we had two winners of the Big Time Daddy Award: John Mahaney and Don Meyer.
This year’s Big Time Daddy Award winners John Mahaney and Don Meyer
After the awards we finished up with our silent auction and Jason Maji shared some closing thoughts. That brought the official conference events to a close; however, a number of dads decided that was not enough for the day and headed out to the Overlake Red Robin for an [un]official post conference meal.
The [Un]official Post Conference Event at Crossroads Red Robin.
We hope that you can join us [again] next year!