Clock Ticking Fast to Las Vegas Gathering

by Christina Hitchcock


Take note, BVA members and their families, regional group officers, delegates, staff, and exhibitors: This year's BVA National Convention is planned for sunny Las Vegas!  By virtue of our location in the heart of the downtown area, convention attendees will be within a five-minute walk of dozens of casinos and stores along Fremont Street.

Not being on "The Strip" will have a number of advantages: faster service when trying to purchase an item or a service, games that are less expensive, an unusually superb hotel rate, and numerous free and low-cost entertainment options.

The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino features more than 37,000 square feet of meeting space and hundreds of slot machines that include progressives, paying out some of Las Vegas' largest jackpots. Photo courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau.
The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino features more than 37,000 square feet of meeting space and hundreds of slot machines that include progressives, paying out some of Las Vegas' largest jackpots. Photo courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau.

Convention Overview


Major convention events get started with registration and the opening of the Exhibit Hall on Tuesday morning. The Exhibit Hall is a great opportunity to learn about new services and to secure hands-on experience with the tools and the latest technologies that have been developed specifically for the blind and visually impaired. Please consider arriving early to the President's Reception in order to visit the adjacent Exhibit Hall before passing through the receiving line. The time-honored tradition of the President's Reception includes an opportunity to meet the National President and other national officers.

The Opening Business Session begins Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. with the posting of colors and an opening address. As is customary, BVA has invited Secretary Shinseki and the appropriate dignitaries from the Las Vegas area. The business portion of the meeting is expected to begin at approximately 10 a.m.

BVA members, spouses, and guests not participating in the convention's scheduled business meetings may check out the Auxiliary Silent Auction and other Auxiliary events. This year, Auxiliary leaders are planning to add a motivational speaker and a caregiver's support panel to the list of their activities. In addition, the Auxiliary is currently contemplating offering a "Craft Make and Take Activity" for those who choose to stay at the hotel and partake in the casino activities.

Convention attendees are encouraged to explore the Exhibit Hall between Noon and 3 p.m. on Wednesday and then attend the Bylaws and Resolutions meeting. Wednesday evening and all day Thursday are open to take in a possible Las Vegas show or explore the ever popular Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, or Fountains at the Bellagio.

All attendees are invited to a "Friday Forum" on the morning of August 19. Four separate topics and presenters will address vision research, prosthetics, and new technologies. Included in the convention registration is an invitation to attend the Father Thomas Carroll Luncheon. Father Carroll was a prominent figure in BVA's history. A luncheon speaker will be followed by the presentation of Certificates of Appreciation to members of the VA or other blind service community who have recently gone the extra mile in making life better for blinded veterans. Following the luncheon event, each BVA district will meet separately to host short sessions for individuals running for national office. The candidates will be available to answer questions regarding their potential service within the officer positions if elected.

Saturday morning kicks off with the Closing Business Session, which includes adoption of Bylaws and Resolutions, election of officers, and votes regarding the selection of convention city sites. This year three regional groups have submitted bids to host a convention. The bids will be considered and voted upon at the meeting. Following the business meeting, Tom Zampieri will host a legislative update for BVA officers and members interested in becoming more active. Sam Huhn will host a leadership training session.

The final event, appropriately labeled the "capstone" of the BVA convention week, is the Saturday evening reception and Awards Banquet. Presentations of the Gold and Silver Gavels, the David L. Schnair Award, the Irving Diener Award, and the Major General Melvin J. Mass Award for Professional Achievement will all be announced and presented.

About the Golden Nugget

The hotel is just 13 miles, or 17 minutes, from McCarran International Airport. It offers free parking. With more than $350 million in recent renovations, the Golden Nugget has recently remodeled rooms and suites, an expanded casino floor, seven world-class restaurants, and The Tank. The latter is the hotel and casino year-round heated pool and shark aquarium, voted one of the "Top 10 Hotel Swimming Pools in the World" by Forbes Traveler.

Reservations for the Golden Nugget can be secured by calling 800-634-3454. Individuals making reservations over the phone must remember to indicate their affiliation with the Blinded Veterans Association in order to receive the group rate. Participants are urged to reserve rooms as far in advance as possible with July 15, 2011 being the final date to receive the BVA $42 per weeknight rate and the $79 Friday-Saturday rate.


BVA mailed convention announcements in mid-May to all members. Members must request a registration package or go to the BVA convention webpage to download the registration form and other information. The registration fee is $100 per person and includes access to the Exhibit Hall and all meetings and tickets to the President's Reception, the Father Carroll Luncheon, and the Awards Banquet.

To be met at the gate by a BVA volunteer, please email the appropriate arrival and departure information to Margarine Beaman,, or call at least three weeks in advance to 512-921-1625. Every effort will be made to have someone at the gate to meet blinded veterans or others traveling alone. Please send arrival and departure information to me at four weeks in advance of arrival.

Remember These Dates

Wednesday, June 15
—Early deadline for securing hotel reservations. Attendees registering at the Golden Nugget who submit their BVA convention registration by June 15 will be entered to win a complimentary five-night stay during the convention that is valued at $284. The drawing will occur during the Awards Banquet on August 20.

Friday, July 15
—Deadline for submitting registration form and payment to BVA National Headquarters. After July 15, the late registration fee is $120 per person. July 15 is also the last day that the special hotel room rate will be available.

Friday, July 15
—Deadline for BVA members and regional groups to submit convention program announcements and ad pages for the program. Please contact Christina Hitchcock at 800-669-7079, Ext. 3303 for additional information on placing an announcement or ad in the convention program.

Tuesday, July 26
—Deadline for receipt of the completed regional group delegate credentials form and official proxy form for non-attending members (credentials form was mailed to regional group officers by the Administrative Director while the proxy form was included in the individual convention package).

Tuesday, August 2
—Deadline for cancellation of pre-registration in order to receive a full refund.