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
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.
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
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
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
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
To be met at the gate by a BVA
volunteer, please email the appropriate arrival and departure
information to Margarine Beaman, firstname.lastname@example.org,
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 email@example.com 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.