Sarah Giddings and Jennifer Chaplin, long-time friends and WSA volunteers, are serving on the 2020 convention committee and excited to welcome WSA families and friends to the Phoenix area next year!
Sarah is mom to Matthew (17) with Williams syndrome, is married to Mike, and has bonus daughter Taegon (18), bonus son Devyn (16), son Connor six. In addition to previously serving as a regional chair volunteer for our Canyon region (where Phoenix is), she is now serving her third year on our board of trustees.
The first convention Sarah attended was Richmond 2006 as a parent, which changed everything for her. She no longer felt alone, as she was able to meet other families and individuals with Williams syndrome. Spending time with adults with WS offered her a glimpse into the potential for her son. Sessions and support from professionals were important because Matthew wasn't speaking yet and still had major feeding issues. She also remembers getting a hug from former WSA staff member Anne Tipton at the registration desk when she was a bit overwhelmed.
Jennifer, who is a close friend of Sarah’s and has been volunteering for the past four conventions (since 2012 in Boston), really enjoys it and we love having her! She works as an event program manager, and her skills are most welcome. Spending time with Matthew and others with Williams syndrome inspires her and reminds her of the amazing abilities we all have. She can usually be found working at the WSA store on site, because “I know being in that spot is perfect for being able to reach out to all convention attendees for whatever reason they need- - a shirt, some info, a smile, a laugh....whatever I can do.” Jen agrees with the assessment many have that Disney World has nothing on a WSA convention and that it is indeed a very happy place where “happy tears” flow and that “taking a week out of my world to be surrounded by the happiest people I’ve ever known is an honor for me every time I get to do it.”
Sarah and Jen and the WSA know there are many benefits about summer in Phoenix, such as very reasonable hotel prices, LOTS of air conditioned activities... and seeing a part of the country many people have never experienced! Sarah can’t wait for first-time families to attend—“I’m so excited for families to have this experience...from the education, to the support of others, and the giant feeling of family reunion that happens! And for those kids and adults with Williams who haven't experienced convention, I'm most excited for them!”
The convention committee is looking forward to offering a convention full of all the things everyone expects from our biennial gathering: education sessions and access to experts, social gatherings and networking—plus some new, timely topics and activities. Save the dates for WSA Convention 2020: July 8-11, and stay tuned for more information here. Hope to see you next July!