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I'm so excited to be hosting my very first Higgy Bears Convention next year! Scoliosis families from all over the world will come together in Grand Rapids, Michigan in a fun-filled and educational three day event. I hope you can join us! It is going to be a very special three days that your kids will remember forever.
I've decided it would be best if families got lunch and dinner on their own so you can save money on the catered food costs. The lower price will allow more families to be able to attend! We will still have the party Wednesday night, just will do dinner on our own before.
I am so excited to announce that Dr. Samdani will be joining us at the convention next year! He is an expert surgeon at Shriners Children's Philadelphia. Families travel from all over the world to see Dr. Samdani. I am truly honored that he is taking time out of his busy schedule to be with all of us!
Dr. Samdani's Biography:
After completing his fellowship, Amer Samdani, M.D., joined the staff at Shriners Children's Philadelphia in 2005. He specializes in the care of children with spine issues and is passionate about finding innovative ways to improve care. Fusionless strategies to treat children, such as vertebral body tethering, have been a major focus of his clinical work. He believes working at Shriners Children's is the ideal place to practice medicine as one gets to work with the best colleagues and patients without being hindered by a patient's ability to pay. Dr. Samdani says that the unique mission of Shriners Children's provides him a lot of job satisfaction and fulfillment.
Outside of clinical practice, Dr. Samdani is very active in research and education. He sits on the executive committee of the Harms Study Group and is a board member of the Pediatric Spine Study Group. He has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles and given over 100 invited lectures/Grand Rounds presentations.
Learn more about Dr. Samdani, here:
Clinicians- I would love your help in spreading the word about the Higgy Bears Convention. Please feel free to download the flyer below and share with your scoliosis families. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com. Thanks so much!
Higgy Bears, Founder
Introducing our first speaker, Marissa M. Muccio, PT, C/NDT. Marissa is an expert physical therapist that will be speaking to parents about Schroth PT and Scoliosis Specific Exercise Programs.
Tamie Gangloff, MA MFT- a therapist and scoliosis warrior will be speaking to us about the mental health needs of scoliosis and spinal fusion patients. More about Tamie, soon!
More medical speakers to be announced in the coming months. I can assure you, the professionals that I have lined up are experts in the field of scoliosis, You will learn so much from them. They will present the latest scoliosis research and treatments to parents and share insights on how to help your children with this diagnosis.
Speakers will discuss bracing, spinal fusion, VBT, Schroth Physical Therapy & Scoliosis Specific Exercise Programs. There will be a strong emphasis on the emotional side of scoliosis, as well.
We will make & decorate Higgy Bear Braces for the kids to keep for themselves & to take with them to donate to patients in their area. Kids can also make scoliosis themed bracelets, keychains, journals & other fun accessories! We will also write & decorate scoliosis cards for other scoliosis patients. LOTS of other fun activities in the works! (A few extra special surprises that won't be revealed until the convention!)
We will have music playing at all times so the kids have a great time crafting and getting to know each other!
Katelyn is an inspirational scoliosis patient, mentor and guide who uses her own journey to mentor teens with scoliosis and their parents. She will be leading multiple workshops for your kids each day to help them process all of the emotions that go along with scoliosis. She will help your child build self confidence in wearing their brace and empower those that have had surgery. Katelyn will also present and host a workshop for parents, by providing you with curated options to help your children through this emotional journey.
Katelyn will share wonderful insight into WHY your child is so resistant to wearing his/her scoliosis brace. She will guide you on how to overcome those obstacles by uncovering the emotional challenges and feelings your child may not know how to express to you.
Katelyn is an absolute gem, and is so incredibly important to the scoliosis community.
Teens from all over the world will be coming together, so I believe a party is in order to celebrate! I will have lots of fun yard games like Giant Jenga, Giant Dice Games, Cornhole and more! We will listen to teen-approved music, take endless selfies in a fun selfie station, and build friendships to last a lifetime!
Parents are welcome to stay, as well. There will be a separate room for parents where you can gather, share experiences and support one another.
Scoliosis has a way of making you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. I want to show kids that they are beautiful and want to make them feel extra special with their own photo shoot.
Meredith Martin, The Bionic Ballerina, is a scoliosis patient and advocate who will be hosting the photo shoot She will make this a one of a kind experience for your kids! She is so excited to meet you!
More details to come.
Check out her Instagram below!
Paige Fraser Hoffman will be joining us from New York City! She is a professional dancer and scoliosis warrior. She will be working with kids to teach them an inspirational dance that they will perform for all of the parents! (Don't worry, it's not required to participate incase you aren't a dancer, like me.)
When dancer Paige Fraser was diagnosed with Scoliosis at the age of 12, she was terrified she would lose the passion, expression, and freedom that dance gave her since the age of 4. Despite doctors telling her she would need surgery, she persevered and never lost sight of her dreams.
Almost 15 years after being diagnosed with Scoliosis, Ms. Fraser can proudly state that she has accomplished the career in dance of which she always dreamed. Through The Paige Fraser Foundation, she hopes to bring awareness to Scoliosis throughout the world and inspire other dancers with it. "There are a few dancers who actually kept going when they were told they have Scoliosis. I chose not to quit".
I'm so excited to meet Paige!
Kyra is such an inspiration to the scoliosis community. She had spinal fusion back in 2010, but that didn't stop her from realizing her dreams of becoming a professional rock climber and olympian, becoming the very first person with a large spinal fusion to do so.
Kyra dreams of going to veterinary school one day. She loves talking with people with scoliosis and fusions, and is incredibly excited to meet everyone!
Kyra will either be joining us in person or via Zoom. She is a professional rock climber, and July is a very busy month for her, but she is going to do her very best to attend.
A fun filled nights for tweens and younger kiddos of any age. (Parents can stay with younger kiddos.) We will have Giant Jenga, Giant Dice Games, Cornhole, Giant Uno, and more! (I just think Giant games are more fun!!)
There will be a selfie station for the kids to take endless pictures with their new friends! We will also have lots of scoli crafts that we can work on while we listen to tween-approved music while we have fun getting to know each other!
Parents are welcome to stay, if they would like. We will have a separate room where parents can gather, exchange stories and support one another.
As they say, all good things must come to an end. But, not without a PARTY first!! Wednesday night is going to be a very special night.
It's PARTY TIME! We will have an awesome DJ playing the best music and ensuring everyone has an awesome time on the dance floor! There will also be a selfie station to take endless pictures at!
No party would be complete without GIFTS. I have something very special in the works for the kids that will be presented at dinner time!
Katelyn has as a free online workshop for parents on her website titled, "Supporting Your Child With Scoliosis." I highly recommend signing up for her free course so you can see for yourself the amazing work that Katelyn does. She also has worksheets to help guide you.
She will be hosting a new free workshop each month leading up to the convention in July. Katelyn will be the emotional support component of the convention for kids. She will use her unmatched mentoring skills and her own scoliosis bracing experience to guide your kids through this emotional journey.
You will understand how amazing Katelyn is once you listen to her free workshop. She is a huge asset to the scoliosis community. I'm so happy she will be joining us at the convention and playing such an integral role in helping both kids and parents.
Katelyn is a licensed bodyworker and Hakomi trained specialist who learned to navigate her own scoliosis journey with body based healing modalities and now guides others along this path to feel free, nurtured, and whole.
Living with scoliosis sparked an awakening to get to know herself at a core level and welcome this diagnosis as a sacred and powerful invitation for growth. With services ranging for individual to group settings, Katelyn is here to help you feel at home in your body and bloom fully in the world.
1:1 mentoring, support, and somatic coaching available for teens, parents, and adults impacted by scoliosis available through her website.
Date : Monday, July 17th- Wednesday, July 19th. 2023
Location: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
1000 East Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525
Convention Hours: 8:00 am- 5:00 pm (Monday- Wednesday)
Teen Night (Monday)- 6:00 pm- 8:00 pm
Tween & Younger Kiddos Night (Tuesday)- 6:00 pm- 8:00 pm
Party (Wednesday)- 6:00pm- 10:00 /11:00 pm (You can leave at anytime.)
I've decided it would be best if all went and got lunch on our own each day and not have the dinner Wednesday night. The cost of the food added hundreds to the cost per person. It will allow more people to come and make it much more affordable. We will still have the party Wednesday night!
The majority of the surrounding hotels have continental breakfast.
Frederik Meijer Gardens is in a very busy area, so there are lots of options for dinner Monday & Tuesday night (All within about 10 minutes). There is also a grocery store right across the street called Meijer.
Restaurants- Applebee's, Longhorn Steak House, Gravity Taphouse Grille, Texas Roadhouse, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Morning Belle, El Burrito Loco, Bonefish Grill, Outback Steakhouse, IHOP and more.
Fast Food: Arby's, Taco Bell, Wendy's, Chick fil-A, Checkers, McDonald's, Subway, Burger King, Chipotle, Culver's, Jimmy Johns, Panera and Jersey Mike Subs.
Country Inn & Suites
3251 Deposit Dr NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
*Indoor Pool/Hot Tub/Small Game Room/Free Wi-Fi
*Closest Hotel- About 2 Minutes
Block of Rooms Reserved Under "Higgy Bears Convention."
2 Queen Beds- $159.99 Per Night (Normally $194)
Use this link to reserve with discounted rate: https://www.radissonhotelsamericas.com/en-us/booking/room-display?checkInDate=2023-07-16&checkOutDate=2023-07-20&adults%5B%5D=1&children%5B%5D=0&searchType=pac&promotionCode=2023HB&hotelCode=MIGREAST
Promotional code, "2023HB"
*If you are calling to reserve over the phone, you must ask to speak to the front desk to get the discounted rate (not the call center.)
Homewood Suites by Hilton Grand Rapids
3920 Stahl Drive SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49546
*Complimentary Breakfast/Free Wi-Fi
*11 Minutes Away
Working on reserving a block of rooms. Will have more information soon.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Grand Rapids
3930 Stahl Drive SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546
*Free Complimentary Breakfast
*11 Minutes Away
Working on reserving a block of rooms. Will have more information soon.
I know that the travel and convention costs are significant for families. I highly recommend setting up a GoFundMe or similar fundraiser to fundraise within your community. I know that friends, family, co-workers and businesses in your area would love to help you attend the convention. I am happy to help you set up the GoFundMe. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help make this possible for your family! It will be an event your family will never forget.
Please Reach Out to Lauren@HiggyBears.com for Sponsorship Opportunities!