Monday, April 1, 2013

Lou's Washington DC Asbestos (ADAO) global conference speech

Hi all

Well I am back home safe'n'sound after 11 wonderful nights in America!  As part of the Bernie Banton Foundation team (BBF) we all met at Melbourne airport on Tuesday 19 March 2013 7am Geoff Fary, John Carter, Rod Smith, Karen Banton and myself.  After a quick check-in and through customs we were ready to board our 10am flight (Qantas A80) bound for LA.   Thanks to John, Rod and Karen I was able to secure 3 seats together making the flight bearable to lie down, sit up and more importantly stand up when I felt my breathing getting tighter.

We landed safely on Tuesday morning (LA time) after a 15.5hr flight and a taxi to the beautiful art deco Georgian  hotel.

The Georgian – A Storied Santa Monica Luxury Hotel

Spring of 1933 was The Georgian's moment. The coastal expansion of the late '20s was just reaching its peak, and innovative business-woman Rosamond Borde was looking to make her mark on the Pacific coastline. Her inspiration became The Georgian, an art deco masterpiece recognized as one of Santa Monica's first "skyscrapers."
Just like the era's film industry mavens, our historic Santa Monica beachfront hotel has played a variety of roles. From exclusive escape for American a-listers, to restful oasis for the global elite, The Georgian has proven itself a discriminating host of taste and class.
Complete with glamour, grace and speak-easy intrigue, The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica draws vacationers from around the globe looking to bask in exclusivity and classic Hollywood ambience. This first "Lady" of the Santa Monica skyline is a graceful representation of classic style perfectly entwined with contemporary chic.

As we had arrived around 9.30am we were able to check our luggage in and one room was free .... so we went up to the 2nd floor to check it out, put our luggage there and sit around in comfy chairs while we worked out our itinerary for the day.  Upon opening the door - the staff had kindly allocated a beautiful suite to ME!  I immediately felt Greta Garbo floating around there and experienced this feeling during my stay.  I was so lucky to experience this beautiful art deco suite!

We walked to the mall with our 'tour' guide Geoff Fary and had brekkie at a lovely French outdoor cafe.  An afternoon tour was arranged to explore Hollywell, downtown Beverley Hills, Rodeo Drive .... .  That evening we dined on the Santa Monica pier at a lively mexican restaurant before all of us retired to our rooms and no doubt passed out with exhaustion!

Weds morning we flew to Washington (Ronald Reagon) airport and checked in at 9pm to our conference hotel rooms at the beautiful Marriot hotel.  What a HUGE hotel!

Thursday we had a free day to explore downtown Washington, and again our kind 'host' Geoff put us on the metro and we proceeded to do a walking tour past the White House and eventually leading to the

  1. The world's largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums, 9 research centers and more than 140 affiliate museums around the world. - Cached More results from »
    By this time I was quite weary so Rod/Karen and myself found the cafe and ate lunch while Geoff and John went exploring the Insitution.
    The ADAO 9th conference officially started on Friday, however by being there a day earlier we were able to make contact with lots of wonderful people who were attending the conference so by the time the conference started we were all old friends who had actually met in person rather than on facebook/emails.

    Friday part of the conference was a wonderful tour of Capital Hill.  - What a wonderful experience that was! 
    Capitol Hill, aside from being a metonym for the United States Congress, is the largest historic residential neighborhood in Washington D.C., stretching easterly in front of the United States Capitol along wide avenues. It is... - Cached
     A beautiful dinner was held on Friday night for guests and speakers - a 5 min walk from the hotel.  Beautiful food, company and lots of lovely memories.

    Sat morning breakfast, registration and 30 speakers from around the world.  A very proud moment when Karen was presented with her inspirational award. Geoff was the last speaker and was absolutely wonderful in what he presented.  Australia is really at the forefront of asbestos education, advocacy and awareness!

    Sunday brunch with keynote speaker Karen presenting a wonderful insight to her life with Bernie.  I followed with my speech and then presented an award to Linda Reinstein on behalf of all the mesothelioma warriors around the world.

    A great conference to raise global awareness and one that I am so proud to have been able to attend.  I feel that our BBF team did us all proud and it has continued to keep Australia on the global map with raising awareness, advocacy and support.

    We left Washington late afternoon bound for New York where I then left BBF and stayed with my wonderful 'Aussie ' New Yorker' friends Kez and Mike in West New York for 4 days before flying home.

    When I checked in at JFK airport, New York I approached the manager of Qantas and kindly asked if there I could have 3 seats together for both flights home.  This wish was granted, thereby making my flights much more comfortable.  (NY to LA 6 hours) (LA to Melb 15.50 hrs).

    I arrived home Sat morning and after a few days of resting and almost back to normal!

    Weds (tomorrow) evening I will see my oncologist Allan Zimet to decide when I will commence some chemotherapy (alimta/carboplatin) for pain and breathing relief to give quality and hopefully more quantity of life.

    I would like to thank BBF and ADAO for giving me the experience of a lifetime to attend this wonderful conference.  I believe on a global front we can all make a difference.  


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