Monday, October 30, 2006

The At-Home Dad Convention, the Brief History of a Great Rebirth

We're now less than two weeks from the 11th Annual At-Home Dad Convention, and I thought I'd give a quick history of this particular event. As longtime readers know, the 11th convention represented a Herculean effort on the part of a group of guys with no agenda other than to keep the event alive. There’s no profit here for anyone, no fame. Just a lot of hard work that deserves recognition.

Until this year, the convention was hosted by Oakton Community College outside of Chicago, where at-home dad researcher Bob Frank works. It was organized largely by fathers from the Chicago area, with Dr. Frank serving as liaison to the school. It was from its inception a welcome, innovative and well-run enterprise. But last winter, the convention received two massive blows: the organizers stepped aside, and -- a few weeks later -- Dr. Frank decided to move on (which meant Oakton would no longer support the event). I assumed the event was -- if not dead -- then certainly close to death.

But a small band of convention-goes took up the baton and started brainstorming. The University of Missouri at Kansas City Women’s Center offered support. Sponsors were rounded up. Space was secured. Sessions were planned. A website, the first for the event, went up. Postcards were sent. Trips and dinners were organized. And everything began to fall into place. Now, on November 11, in Kansas City, the At-Home Dad Convention will rise again. It is the best program I've seen in my four years of attending the event, yet the fees will be lower this year than any year I've attended.

I know the dads who are planning this, and they're stand-up guys who probably won't talk about the massive amount of time they've spent on this. They won't take credit for keeping alive an event that has meant a great deal to hundreds of fathers over the years. They won’t give themselves a pat on the back. But the deserve one. So if you go there -- and if you can, you should -- please grab Dayv and Andy and Dave and Brian and Phil and Kace and Jim and Mike and tell them thank you. And buy 'em a beer. Because damn, those guys have earned it.


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