A Day that Changed my Life: Reflection on the First SparkPeople Convention


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

I once read that it is through our life experiences that we define who we are. By far one of the most touching and heart-felt experiences in my life happened on May 2nd at the first SparkPeople Convention in San Diego. This great event truly taught me we are never alone in this journey we call life. And while the journey to reclaim our lives may seem daunting, know that you will always have a friend somewhere on SparkPeople to walk it with you.

Photo compliments of Mary aka LILHLFPINT

I was so excited traveling from Texas to San Diego; not only would I get to meet our great members, but being so far removed from the Cincinnati home base, I have only corresponded with my fellow Spark co-workers via email and a few phone calls. This was my first time to meet them in person. The minute I saw Coach Nicole, Dietitian Becky, Dave and his wife Angie at the airport, I knew I was in for the time of my life. What a pleasure and treat to meet others who share the passion of helping others.

We arrived at the convention center around 2:30 P.M on Friday. and I was honored to finally meet the man who has truly touched and transformed not only my life, but many, many others—Chris ‘SparkGuy’ Downie! What a moment it was! Then to meet Jenny, Beth, Tim, Tami and Kristy! WOW, what a GREAT group of people. What a fantastic job they did helping make this day the best! Everyone at SparkPeople did their best to make this day special to all our members in attendance and they did just that!

I can honestly tell you, these people are sooo PASSIONATE about their jobs! They are just as moved by our member’s stories as you are. This is not just a job for them--it is their mission--a mission to help everyone reach their goals.

And what can I say about our members? You all were the inspiration for this convention. I will echo what I said in my presentation. As much as you all are inspired by the folks at SparkPeople, we are just as inspired, if not more so, by you. You are what makes SparkPeople what it is—A FAMILY!

Someone asked me if I was nervous before I gave my presentation. While I was extremely nervous on Friday, once I met so many of our members, I no longer had that fear. Why, you might ask? Because I was not talking to an unknown group of people; I was talking to people who are walking the same journey as I am and who have experienced the same situations I have. I was talking to friends! No matter where you are on this journey, I hope you know this is one that never requires you to walk it alone.

While I am slowly returning back to my normal routine, I will always have fond memories from San Diego. And for those of you who so graciously passed a SaprkGoodie card my way, they were planted right up there on my wall of inspiration! I hope this is just the beginning of many, many SparkPeople Conventions to come. THANKS to everyone for your kind generosity--my heart is a few sizes bigger then it was just a week ago.

Stay tuned to SparkPeople.com for more details and an in-depth recap from the event coming soon!

If you were in San Diego I hope you will share your story. If not, let us know what you think would make a great convention for you.

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  • 100
    hoping to make meet some spark friends someday because of of you have inspired me so much and i love being part of anything wonderful. looking out to make Canadian friends here since i am planning to visit there as a reward for knocking of 30 more pounds. - 9/11/2012   9:18:38 AM
  • 99
    Nancy it was a pleasure to meet you and your talk inspired me so much knowing that my platue is not the end. I have started a streak on my precor machine and I am determined to break this platue now that you have taught me that just because its been 5 months its not the end. Cant wait to tell you I beat it. Thanks for being at the convention! Your speech will be the one I most remember!
    Kim - 5/19/2009   2:36:51 PM
    The convention sounds wonderful. I wish I could have been there. Maybe there will be one here in Florida. - 5/12/2009   8:21:13 AM
    Yes, an East Coast Convention would be nice, it sounded amazing!!!! Even one in Florida in the winter would be awesome as well!!! - 5/12/2009   7:55:12 AM
  • 96
    I echo everyone. After meeting two of my Spark friends, I'm anxious to meet more. what a great idea - the posts and the articles are what keeps me going. - 5/10/2009   3:52:57 PM
  • 95
    If distance wasn't an issue, I'd have BEEN there. I'm glad that we've got the 'net to keep us updated and the SP site to keep us focused! - 5/10/2009   9:46:34 AM
  • 94
    I am so looking forward to my first "Spark Maine Rally" on May 30th. I wish I could have been at the one in California. - 5/9/2009   10:45:34 AM
  • 93
    Here's another vote for one in the Midwest. Seems it would make it easier for more folks to attend. Branson, Missouri for one. Our new Airport is opening this weekend. hmmm......Sounds like the Convention was a huge success! Wish I could have attended. - 5/9/2009   2:46:46 AM
  • 92
    Seems like everyone would love to have gone if they didn't! Why can't we just have an annual SPARKDAY and just pick a place to meet in major cities all across the country, and in the rest of the world wherever there is interest. Have the regional teams discuss locations and just have a Meet-Up! Wouldn't we all love to have one close enough to attend? Iknow it isn't that simple, but what do you think of trying?
    Charlotte - 5/9/2009   1:42:27 AM
  • 91
    I still am feeling energized almost one week after the convention. All the speakers were great, and the information was helpful. This convention was the motivation I needed to improve my program. - 5/8/2009   10:25:47 PM
    I wish I had been able to make it. I usually go to Hay House's "I Can Do It" west coast conference but just couldn't afford it this year.
    Hopefully next time. - 5/8/2009   10:25:31 PM
  • 89
    Oh how I wish I could have attended! I live on the East Coast, but would consider somewhere not *quite* so far away. While I'm sure the weather was probably much more predictably nice for the convention in May in CA, the possibilities are obviously endless! I would, of course, like to attend a convention where I could meet & thank everyone involved in the creation and maintenance of this site. And although the word was out rather early about the convention, I agree with another poster who suggested even more planning, and most importantly, "saving" ($$$) time. What a wonderful idea, and what a great forum to get whole "teams" together to finally meet each other! I'm looking forward to hearing more specifics from everyone ! - 5/8/2009   9:57:56 PM
  • 88
    NANCY! Of all the folks at the Convention, I was most looking forward to meeting YOU... you have been an inspiration for me as a new runner. You have always given helpful advise and encouragement. Good luck and I wish you the best in your Marathon training...especially in the Texas heat! I'll be cheering you on.
    Denise (the one in blue) - 5/8/2009   8:56:56 PM
  • 87
    New England is nice! I'd LOVE to get to a convention, but just couldn't make it this year. - 5/8/2009   2:58:19 PM
  • 86
    I would like to thank Chris "Spark Guy" Downie; for creating this site and all the wonderful people he has working at Spark for making this a world wide "family" of people who help each other reach their goals. I think he has a great idea in planning events all over the country.

    Since the program started in the US, maybe they could consider having an event in each of the 50 states. It would also be great if they could take the meetings to an international level.

    I know I am writing about a Huge undertaking, but look at what Spark Guy has accomplished already. He has touched millions of lives all over the world. Who says there has to be a limit? If the heart and mind can dream it, Man can achieve it.

    Genesis 11:6....and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

    This passage of scripture is referring to the evil of man attempting to make their own way to heaven by building the tower of Babel, but I believe it also applies to the good that man can do as well. For Nothing Shall be impossible with GOD! - 5/8/2009   1:59:32 PM
  • 85
    It would be nice to have one in New Hampshire. - 5/8/2009   11:14:01 AM
  • 84
    I hope there will be another one, maybe more centrally located so more people could attend... California is a long way for most of us! I wanted to go so bad, but between the distance, and the cost to be able to get to California, it was just not feasible! - 5/8/2009   10:38:05 AM
  • 83
    Cost prevented my going to the convention, but I'm so glad you did this! And the location was ideal for the first convention!

    Many people have commented that having the convention nearer them would make attending it possible for them, that in fact they could and would then go. Perhaps one consideration for future conventions might be having more than one: four, perhaps. Some organizations do manage local, regional and national retreats and conventions, so perhaps SP management could investigate the financial side of arranging more localized conventions ...or retreats.

    Some people have been active on this site for quite a few years, since its inception perhaps. Wouldn't it be nice if SP included a component for its members of longest standing! "Breakfast for The Golden Oldies"? These people are at the core of SP's success.

    KUDOS to all SP staff who made the convention possible. Correction: the FIRST convention! I look forward to hearing what is next of the many possibilities available to members! - 5/8/2009   8:50:52 AM
  • 82
    I couldn't go to the convention, but I have to say, just reading this one blog brought happy tears to my eyes! I'm so glad that so many of the family could get together like they did! Hopefully I will be able to attend one in the future. Thank you Spark for all you do for us and thank you to all Spark people who have made such a difference in my life. I hope I have been able to inspire some of you as much as you have me! - 5/8/2009   3:37:10 AM
  • 81
    My husband and I went to the convention and really enjoyed everyones postive attitude and the success stories were great. We were lucky that it was in San Diego because our son lives in LA. Not only did we get to go to the convention but we were able to spend a little time with our son. It also helped a lot that we had skymiles for our flight. We look forward to another convention some day. Does anyone know just how many people were there? - 5/8/2009   1:36:53 AM
  • 80
    I agree with the suggestion to hold the convention in a different location every year. I'd have loved to attend, and I'm sure it was worth the price, but travel expenses on top of that made it just a bit too much for me right now. Another vote for the midwest! - 5/7/2009   10:21:33 PM
  • 79
    Thanks for posting what we all felt about the convention Nancy! I was one of those who were able to attend, and absolutely loved it! You can read about my experience in my blog also. I live in San Diego county (Vista....what we refer to as "North County") so it was an easy drive for me. I loved meeting all of the Spark staff and the members who attended. It brought Sparks to "life". I've also met up with a few members at Disney World in Florida over New Years last January, so it's becoming a wonderful adventure!

    Thank you for being such an inspiration to all of us. What you offer here on this website is an invaluable tool - and the people are lifelong friends!

    Have a Sparkerific journey and may you all reach your goals!
    Brenda - 5/7/2009   9:20:24 PM
  • 78
    The idea that SparkGuy left us with at the end of the day was that his vision includes events like this one being planned grassroots-style all over the country. We each need to take responsibility for our individual team and areas and make them happen! Can I get a "woo hoo"? - 5/7/2009   5:31:10 PM
  • 77
    I wish I could have gone. It would be great if the convention traveled to a more central location. It would be amazing to meet some of the "family." - 5/7/2009   4:52:14 PM
  • 76
    I live on the East Coast. It would be great to have one in Atlantic City NJ. They have a nice newer convention center and a lot of conventions are held there. Plus there is the casinos which out of towners may enjoy. - 5/7/2009   4:51:25 PM
  • 75
    Nancy thank you for sharing! I could not go, but hearing all the stories makes me feel as though I were right there with you!! I hope to make one year -- I am here in Albany, NY. :-) - 5/7/2009   4:18:43 PM
    How cool would it be if each Year the Convention would be in a different place???!!! :) I work at a huge Convention Center....maybe the next SparkPeople Convention could be right there...here?? in Texas ????? :) Let me know...and i will get "my" people involved :).... - 5/7/2009   3:43:13 PM
  • BONDGIRL2010
    I agree would love to come if you could have one in the Midwest...Kansas City it's cheap to fly into KCI?? - 5/7/2009   1:28:34 PM
  • 72
    I am so envious!! I hope SparkPeople has another convention and warns us more in advance so we can plan for it!! I would definitely have gone had I not had previous commitments. So....please tell us when and where as soon as possible!! I will save up my pennies and go!!! - 5/7/2009   12:55:13 PM
  • 71
    I can't wait to hear more about what happened at the convention! I wish I could have gone and I'm sure the next one will be a lot further away from me, but I just couldn't afford it in this economy! It stinks, because this was the perfect location for me! Next time, I would need much more notice so I could prepare to save up! - 5/7/2009   12:42:57 PM
  • 70
    I live in Alabama but would love to go to one if it were closer to me:) I would not even mind driving to a city near me to attend. - 5/7/2009   12:42:30 PM
  • 69
    Hi all,

    I was one of the lucky ones to be able to not only attend the convention but speak as part of the member panel, as well. I did blog about my journey so please stop by my page and leave me a comment!!! There is a picture of Nancy and I on there!

    Nancy, it was a true pleasure getting to know you!!! Your heart is already as big as Texas and that shines through not only in person but on all the posts you make!! Thank you for being you!

    Happy Sparkin!
    Leah - 5/7/2009   12:37:24 PM
  • 68
    Sounds like there's interest for East coast, West coast, Midwest and Canadian conventions! - 5/7/2009   12:25:17 PM
  • 67
    Come to Germany! ;-) - 5/7/2009   12:22:37 PM
    Yes, please come to the East Coast ~ like Florida in the winter! - 5/7/2009   11:53:12 AM
  • 65
    I'm envious of those that were able to go too! I am also under the economic pressure as a lot of the country so I just simply could not afford it even though I would have LOVED to go - AND it was held on my birthday! Hopefully we'll all be able to attend one meeting sometime. Thank you SparkPeople for all you do for us! - 5/7/2009   11:46:45 AM
  • 64
    Come to Canada!!!! It's too expensive to fly to the states.... - 5/7/2009   11:30:03 AM
    I have never been in a convention, but I have tteach a dance workshop. A good workshop.The students wanted to learn the dance and they did. They were paying attention, they rehearsed the routines and they got them.It was worth it.
    Long before that, I was once in a summer dance festival, in which we dance from 9 in the morning to 9 at night and we always were practicing steps here and there, we watched movies of the dances and we really had the best time. - 5/7/2009   10:32:14 AM
  • 62
    I wish that i could have been there but I did not have the money to get there..
    - 5/7/2009   10:28:20 AM
  • 61
    I would have loved to have been there, but I couldn't. One in Missouri would be better for me. - 5/7/2009   10:23:27 AM
  • 60
    I also echo a sad "wish I could have been there" I would like to say that while an east ans west coast convention is nice what about us middle of the country people! St. Louis is a great place for a convention. Half way for everyone! - 5/7/2009   10:22:22 AM
  • 59
    I would have loved to be there. I'm echoing others who are asking for an East Coast convention too! - 5/7/2009   10:17:34 AM
  • 58
    It seems as if the convention idea is a wonderful one...may i suggest that there be two conventions held each year...one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast...they could be held in the Spring and the Fall...I also think some regional meetings/mini-conventions, informal but informational, would benefit many of us...i have three small kids, and as a single mom I am unable to go long distances without them, but a more accessible yet still informational get together with other Sparks members and maybe even just one or two of our great motivational Sparks employees /contributors would be a wondefrul opportunity to refresh, revitalize, re-energize, remotivate, educate, etc etc...what do you all think? - 5/7/2009   10:06:09 AM
  • 57
    Nancy, it was just as amazing for all of us. I'm am so honored to have met you face to face and to call you friend. And not to mention so lucky that the first convention was only a 2 hour drive away making it more affordable. I know many members were not so lucky. I hope there will be more conventions scattered all over for everyone to experience the Spark LIVE. I posted my blog about the day, too. hope to see you again soon. Good Luck in your marathon training. -janey - 5/7/2009   10:02:15 AM
  • 56
    Bring the convention to the Philadelphia area. *pleeeeeease* - 5/7/2009   9:53:29 AM
  • 55
    Have one on the east coast. - 5/7/2009   9:38:33 AM
  • 54
    Yes, please have one either in the middle of the country or on the East Coast! - 5/7/2009   9:30:32 AM
  • 53
    How about one right here in Ohio? Flying Pig Weekend is the first weekend in May, SP could have a booth at the Expo, (a) relay team(s) for the marathon, and a chance to reach over 20,000 people. I walked in this year's 1/2, and it was GREAT. Cinci is within driving distance of 60% of other major markets. If Prevention magazine can have a marathon relay team, I say SP can have one (or several) too. I'd pay to be a part of that. Thank you for having the convention. I look forward to hearing about more. :) - 5/7/2009   9:30:21 AM
    I would love for one to come to TEXAS! - 5/7/2009   9:22:17 AM
  • DENISE0310
    Thanks, Nancy ... once again you've given me great motivation to keep on Keepin' On!! It is the camaraderie, the family, the passion that makes us all Sparkers & makes it so fantastic. Sure hope to make it to the next convention!!
    Denise - 5/7/2009   9:21:32 AM

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