Michelle + Mary S

Halloween, what a time to drag the kids from home.  However, the Celiac Sprue Association’s National Convention was held on just that weekend in Erie, PA. Erie is a quaint town that sits right on the shore of Lake Erie. The people are very friendly and gluten-free knowledgable. The convention was held at the Bayside Convention Center, right on the water.  Inside, there were two large ballrooms dedicated to lectures. In a third, we had the pleasure of an exhibit hall filled with samples of all the best gluten-free foods, flours, cookbooks and amenities one could wish to find. Our children made quick work of all the samples offered. When surveyed, all four agreed that the brownies and numerous brands of cupcakes were their favorites!

The Celiac Sprue Association does a wonderful job at many things, not the least of which is arranging this conference every year. We heard superb lectures from the likes of Dr. Peter Greene(Columbia University NY,NY), Dr. Rodney Ford ( New Zealand), Dr. Fransisco Leon( Alba Therapeutics), Dr. Dennis Vidmar( dermatology) and many more. They were kind enough to allow my husband and me to present as well. Bill spoke on the medicolegal aspects of Celiac Disease and I did a brief lecture on associated conditions that cause diarrhea in celiac patients after going gluten-free . The reception was very warm and we really enjoyed our chance to touch more lives.

While in Erie, we had the pleasure of meeting some of the people who make the CSA work. Pictured above, with me, is Mary Schluckebier, MA( reader’s left). Mary is the executive director of the CSA.  Along with Bill Ehl, the president of the Celiac Sprue Association, they reach out all over the country to spread the word about celiac disease , raise money for research and education and closely monitor the labeling laws that guide all food intolerant individuals. What a great job they do. If you have not already done so and you are a person living with celiac disease, please go ahead and join the CSA. It is worth the $20 you will pay for it!

Lastly, I would like to take a moment and give a special thanks to Mike and Deb Mailand. Every year, this couple comes and designs a 3-day program for the children of those attending the conference. Their children are already grown so this is done purely out of the goodness of their hearts. I would like to say to them “What a great job you both did!!” Our children were included in several field trips. The kids went to a large chain supermarket, Wegman’s, for a tour of the gluten-free choices offered and a talk on nutrition. They had a trip to the zoo, carving pumpkins, a homemade haunted house, gluten-free cooking lessons, a Halloween party brimming with more than 12 different treats made by the children themselves and more. The cleaning was endless and the sleep not enough for the Mailands, yet they were at the convention center every morning by 7am ready and willing to go again. Bill and I were most impressed!

Next years conference will be in Kansas City, Kansas. I implore all that can to please make the trek down. It is well worth the trip, even if just for the camaraderie alone. You will realize just how many of us are fighting the same fight.I am also pulling for Chicago for 2011. Hope you can all join me in the Chicago push. I would love to see all of you here in our grand city that is so supportive of celiac disease!