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2020 Clusterbuster Conference changed to a virtual event.

by | Jul 13, 2020 | Busters Blog

I wanted to comment on our decision to cancel our annual in-person event this September and change it over to a virtual event.

We understand how disappointed everyone is that were expecting to attend. This has been our hardest decision to make and myself, the Board of Directors and all the volunteers are not only disappointed but distressed and devastated.We also understand how important this event is for everyone involved. The organization, the returning members and those that were going to be able to make their first appearance. It has always been clear to everyone that most new attendees show up for the support the community might be able to provide. The returning members are doing so because they want to provide help and support for those new people that are attending. It is an opportunity for people to reconnect with others they have met and care deeply about and in addition they know how important those relationships have become and know how important they are to have in their lives.

It is an incredible experience to be able to share these sorts of relationships with new people searching for the support that these events can provide. It is a human connection that can be essential in leading a good life. To witness that connection between two people that you know are dealing with the same physical and psychological issues because of their shared disorder is indescribably heartwarming and fulfilling. We know how important those connections are for us and it is something special to give that gift to others. This has always also been true for the caregivers that attend as it is for the patients themselves.

This gift is something that everyone that has ever attended one of our conferences has always freely given.

One of the most distressing parts of cancelling the in-person event is that we know that in today’s state of the world, it is more important than ever for people to get together and show they are not alone and that what is most important are the things that connect us. Not the things that seem to be pulling us apart. Unlike some of the unfortunate disagreements that are happening too often on social media, the most disagreeable topics discussed at a Clusterbuster conference usually center upon things such as trying to convince an unbeliever that Pink Floyd IS the best band in modern history. I know that no one at our conferences has ever asked another attendee what color of state they live in before giving them a hug. It would have been no different this year.

Some of the reasons we were not able to hold this conference in Chicago left us no choice in the matter. Even if everything were going well with the pandemic, the largest group the hotel would have been allowed to have in the meeting room would have been 50 people. That is close to the number of volunteers and speakers that it takes to put this on every year.

Making things more challenging, Illinois has now put into effect a self-quarantine of 14 days for anyone coming in from any of 15 states. This list of states will be adjusted from time to time between now and September. People will not know until they arrive if they are able to attend. Clusterbusters does have a few “rebels” but we have no idea what the hotel will be doing with people that try to check in from any of the listed states and even that can change week by week.

There are additional issues for our international guests. We have had people attend from a couple dozen countries over the years. At this point most of them would not be allowed to fly into Chicago. It is very possible that even if that incoming ban is lifted, people may not be able to fly home from the states. That is a decision that other countries are now making.

There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into preparing for a conference and it takes months to accomplish. We will now be preparing for as personal a virtual event as we can make it. We know how important the hugs and personal connections are and will do our best to connect on a personal level and include as much interaction as possible. There will be quite a bit of expense in doing this so the virtual event will require a nominal registration fee.

We are also in the process of planning future events where we can get together as soon as that is possible. We expect to make some announcements on future events very soon. We have some things up our sleeves that we think are fun events. We will get through this as a community and we WILL see you all soon.

Stay safe and well until we meet again,
Bob Wold


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