On April 5, 2013, three chapters of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), including MPI Southern California (MPISCC), MPI Orange County (MPIOC), and San Diego MPI (SDMPI), will co-host the MPI Southern California EdCon & Expo (S.E.E.). This event will take place at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego and is aimed at providing exceptional educational and networking opportunities for planners, suppliers, and exhibitors alike. It marks the first time these three chapters have joined forces to consolidate their individual annual programs.
Among the numerous meeting industry speakers will be medically retired United States Army Sergeant 1st Class Norberto “Norbie” Lara, an 11½-year veteran from Visalia, California. Sergeant Lara represents the Wounded Warrior Project® (WPP), a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors through 18 programs and services designed to provide healing of the mind and body, educational and job placement opportunities, as well as peer mentoring.
In June 2004, while on combat patrol in Iraq, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) struck Sergeant Lara’s vehicle. It penetrated the firewall and severed his arm. Shrapnel from the explosion ripped through his body, lacerating his liver, and severe lung damage was caused from inhaling when the RPG exploded. He slipped into unconsciousness and was later placed in a medically induced coma, from which he awoke two months later. Sergeant Lara spent two years recovering from the injuries he sustained, relearning how to talk and to walk, and medically retired from the U.S. Army in 2006. He became acquainted with the WWP when he went with them on a trip to Colorado and learned to ski from a Vietnam War veteran who had lost both of his arms.
As part of S.E.E.’s social responsibility, they will spotlight the Wounded Warrior Project® and feature them at the conference by having Sergeant Lara address the group in a session entitled “Warriors Speak”. It will immediately follow the welcome and opening remarks.
The Warriors Speak program is a prestigious group of Wounded Warriors and caregivers who have been selected to share their personal, inspirational stories of courage and integrity with the public. They describe how the Wounded Warrior Project® has aided them in the recovery process and helped them transition back to civilian life.