More of 2004 Convention

“Meet the LOC Dinner”
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 6-9-04

My husband, Terry, and I had the privilege of having dinner with the Omaha SHHH’ers who helped to make this convention happen. What a treat to meet all these wonderful people! We were a little late to the dinner, and NO it wasn’t me! I don’t believe in being “fashionably late”, as I am a VERY detailed ON-TIME melancholic! However, hubby was stuck in a By-laws Committee Meeting until 7:15. The dinner was really delicious, and I had my first taste of Omaha steak. Now it’s a given I’ve probably had steak from Omaha before, but I was eating it IN Omaha. Surely that makes it special!

We were introduced to the “movers and shakers” for the convention, and Elissa Brooks from the national SHHH office impressed us by remembering everyone’s name as she walked around the room to introduce each person. Recognition was given to Jerry Hohnbaum andMarian Reyburn, the co-chairs of the local organizing committee. My goodness, what a lot of work goes into organizing these conventions! They did a super job, as the days ahead would prove! I did get a little tickled when Susan Lantz, was introduced as the “Adult Activities” director. Hmmmm…me thinks a better title is in order? Warren Reynolds produced a SHHH cake at the end, which we thoroughly enjoyed eating. Everything tastes better if SHHH is on it! (grin) We also met Marshalle King, who was introduced as the “go to” person at the Hilton Omaha. She proved invaluable over the upcoming days. I found out that they had workshops for the Hilton employees, to orient them to serving and communicating with HoH people. The entire staff really was incredible, and I could definitely tell that everyone had been “educated” as to how to best interact with HoH people. Terry and I rushed back to the room at 8:45 as he had a staff meeting in our suite. I hurried the kids off to bed, and I assume Terry came to bed at a much later time. I had long since fallen asleep. Ever notice how excitement and extra communication really “knocks a HoH person for a loop”?

Newcomer’s Meeting
1:30-3:30 p.m., Thursday, 6-10-04

Sue Miller, well-known and beloved SHHH leader from Rochester, NewYork, was the speaker for this workshop. She does an incredible job of orienting all the “newcomers” to a SHHH convention. Her enthusiasm is contagious as well! I certainly hope she continues to do these workshops, as she does a superb job! Terry and I stepped into say “hello”. I hung back at the door, but Terry motioned me up to the front. I have a terrible time reading his lips from the side, but I was able to easily look over his shoulder at the CART screen. What a blessing to have CART at every single meeting and workshop! Iwas asked to say something rather spur-of-the-moment. I made sure hubby understood later that I much prefer being “fore-warned”. He’s still rubbing his sore arm, so I don’t suppose he’ll forget anytime soon!

“Welcome to the national SHHH convention! Last year was my first national convention, and it was the first time I attended something that was completely accessible to me! Introduce yourself to everyone, and enjoy your time here! Have fun!”

Nothing profound, but heartfelt. Good thing CART was there to display my words…I’ve found my accent really throws off HoH people. (Unless they’re from down yon’)

Picture session w/ Jim Fowler
3:30-4:15 p.m., Thursday, 6-10-04

What a treat to meet Jim Fowler “back stage” before the opening session! I approached him and stuck out my hand, but my mouth was frozen in “dropped open” position. He graciously took my hand and bent down to read my name badge.

“Denise Portis,” he read aloud. “You’re young!” (He turned his head to take in my hearing aids in both ears.) “Hearing loss affects all ages, doesn’t it? Let me guess…you use to watch me when you were a kid?”

My mouth, still in “dropped open” position clicked closed with a snap and I merely shook my head “yes”. Talk about “star struck”! My kids were rolling with laughter…especially since they had no clue who he was!” Listen, you don’t understand! He’s a Wild Kingdom icon! Well golly! He was the Crocodile Hunter, BEFORE there was a Crocodile Hunter!”

Their “wow’d expressions” showed they finally understood. Many pictures were taken, I’ll try to post some later.

Opening Session
4:30-6:00 p.m., Thursday, 6-10-04
Cheryl Heppner has done a wonderful job of reporting on this session. Be sure to find her remarks on bhNews. I’ll add that the “3 volunteers” to hold that enormous albino constrictor, were my children and myself. I held the head and shoulders. (Well, the front part, ok? I know a snake doesn’t have shoulders!) Face to face and eye to eye with a huge snake! I almost came unglued!

Get Acquainted Party
8:00 pm – 10:30, Thursday, 6-10-04
What a great time! I was able to meet many Beyond Hearing, and bhNews faces that I’ve seen “posts” from over the past year. I don’t know how many people were present, but the room was packed out! Ricky Smith, who had preformed at an earlier workshop for the children, entertained us during the party. He is a professional mime. Although he is deaf and knows sign, he very clearly communicates through the use of mime…something all people can easily understand once they start thinking with pictures instead of words. He asked for many volunteers to come up and illustrated “jumping rope”. It was really hysterical! It’s difficult to “show” something very commonplace. When the volunteers “dropped the jump rope”, he clearly showed through the use of mime that the “jumper” was hopelessly tangled up! Much later I cornered Ricky and asked for a brief history lesson of mimes. He took me back to the 1400’s, and even explained why mimes paint their faces white. I learned a great deal! Ricky trained with Marcel Marceau and is a very talented performer. Go to: for information about the history of Mime’s.

Omaha Barbeque
7:00-9:00 p.m., Friday 6-11-04

YUM! What a wonderful barbeque spread! Although all the dishes claimed to be Omaha favorites, I would have guessed many of them very “southern style”! From chicken to ribs, potato salads, and casseroles, asparagus and salad, to Snicker-Bar Cheesecake! My absolute favorite! Cheesecake is my weakness! I had two pieces, and will for sure sport extra pounds when I get home! My family and I sat at a table with some people I had not met up to this point. I was so excited to be seated across from Iz Cohen! Fellow BeyondHearing member, Iz taught me a great deal about BAKING BREAD. I think he was surprised I knew “my wheat varieties”, as I grew up on a farm myself. What I did NOT know was what it took to make GREAT bread! Iz has had a lot of experience too! I also sat next to Tim Creagan. He is the Director of Consumer Training at ITTATC (Information Technology Technical Assistance andTraining Center). I discovered we are practically neighbors as he “hails” from the Arlington area. To find out more about what Tim does, please visit:

Also seated at our table was George DeVilbiss. I have the pleasureof knowing George, but was tickled to be at his table. If you ever get a chance to talk to George about his family’s history, ASK HIM. Indentured servants, and early Maryland settlers, his family’s history would make a great book! Perhaps he’ll write it all down one day! After eating, I ran into Wayne Roorda. I have not had the opportunity to really get to know him before now, and he’s a great guy! He has been a member of SHHH since 1980! He is a walking cochlear implant miracle! I have never heard such a successful implant story! He’s another one who should write a book!

Denise Portis
Frederick County SHHH
Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

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