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Making Connections - U2FP's Annual Symposium

picture of a black woman standing next to white man in wheelchair within an event graphic

U2FP Board Member Johnnie Edwards (left) with Perry Cross (right) of the Perry Cross Foundation.

We’re thrilled to be bringing our 18th Annual Science & Advocacy Symposium back home to Minneapolis this year. We’d love for you to join us on Friday, October 20 & Saturday, October 21, 2023 at the Minneapolis Hilton hotel.

Of course, part of the thrill is administrative - it’s easier to plan a meeting in our backyard than to do it across the country. But the deeper excitement for me is reflecting on my own journey as the parent of a child with an SCI. I keep thinking about all the people I’m connected to who were and are a part of that ongoing journey. 

One of those people is Kurt Wiger at Allina’s Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. I was talking to Kurt a few days ago about the volunteer opportunities at our meeting. We were reminiscing about so many people in the SCI community that we know and so many that he has introduced me to over the years.

Kurt is a connector. It’s a necessary skill in his work. Way back in 2011, he helped me find people to join the campaign to pass the SCI/TBI Research Grant bill here in Minnesota (what would become the model for U2FP’s CAN). And he was always making introductions to people and organizations knowing I’d need to build those relationships.

That walk down memory lane got me thinking about the critical importance of connection, relationships and conversations: key drivers behind our meeting. U2FP works hard to be a connector across the SCI landscape, looking to bring our SCI folks into the center of the conversation. The SCI community’s input is critical to help make curative therapies smarter, more efficient and translatable (ie, where is this research going? and what does it mean for people who live with the injury?).

We are going to celebrate those connections in Minnesota, highlighting the advocacy and activism that built the Minnesota SCI/TBI research grant program and the fruit it has produced: clinical trials, clinical applications, and lots of good science. 

Kurt never joined us at the Capitol but his mark was on just about every person who did. We will get to curative interventions by getting connected, forming solid relationships and having effective, honest and sometimes hard conversations about the way forward. 

Join us!


PS - Explore our outstanding list of confirmed speakers here. Then dive into our agenda here, where you can click through to view the abstracts and bios of many of our presenters. Right now you can save nearly 30% off our regular registration fees with early bird pricing. Plus, students and SCI individuals/family members receive an additional 50% off! Register now! Oh and we also offer travel grants - which you can apply for here. Take advantage of all these incentives and join us for our 18th Annual Science & Advocacy Symposium!