The 2020 American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) Virtual National Assembly got off to lively start Wednesday evening with the grand opening session and keynote address. The dialogue in the chat room, though, really brought the event to life.
Just as a Zoom meeting allows for an intimate look inside an attendees’ homes, their discussion in the chat room last night revealed some of their colorful personalities.
“Does anyone else hear the Star Spangled Banner?” asked one man.
“Yup,” came an immediate response.
“Yes,” said another man. “And I’m standing.”
One man said he had the best seat in the house. “Much easier to find a chair on the end this way,” he wrote. “Much more elbow room.”
Many attendees greeted their colleagues like long-lost friends.
“Hello everyone! So happy to be here!”
“Hello from Italy!”
“Hi from Hawaii!”
“I’m standing in the middle of Mandalay Bay, where is everyone?” one man said.
“I wish this was in Vegas, but it works,” said another.
When the lifetime achievement and advocacy awards were presented, the chat room bustled with praise and applause.
Arturo Vázquez Vela, CPO, FAAOP, posthumously received AOPA’s 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award. Vázquez Vela died in April 2013 in Mexico. In 1977, he became the first Mexican citizen to receive the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) certification in orthotics; he received his ABC certification in prosthetics in 2001. In 1993, he and his brother, Eduardo Vázquez Vela Sánchez, MD, an orthopedist, founded the Centro para la Rehabilitacion Integral de Minusvalidos del Aparato Locomotor, a nonprofit rehabilitation clinic in Mexico that provides prostheses to the underserved.
Vasquez Vela’s brother accepted the award on his behalf.
“Applause! Applause!” many in the chat room said.
George Breece, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP), received the Ralph R. “Ronney” Snell, CPO, FAAOP, Legislative Advocacy Award.
Breece graciously accepted via video and said he was humbled and honored to receive the award and noted to viewers that this was the first time he had put on a suit and tie since the Academy meeting in March in Chicago.
“Congrats George!” many chimed in.
“George is one of a kind—the best! Great choice for this honor!” one woman said.
The active chats continued during the virtual Welcome Reception complete with Elvis impersonators, bringing Vegas to attendees’ computer screens.
Day two of the Assembly began Thursday morning with the Thranhardt Lecture Series. Viewers heard two award-winning abstracts selected as the “Best of Show.”