Eight of the ten members of the 2016 panel reunited in November.
Imagine you have an opportunity of a lifetime that not only gives you a chance to work closely with one of your favorite brands but it comes with a pile of new wonderful friends. That’s what happened when I was offered the chance to be a Disney Parks Moms Panelist this year.
I’m just wrapping up my year-long gig in a splendid way: By enjoying my panelist reward trip with a week at Walt Disney World Resort and then experiencing a week-long holiday Disney Cruise Line trip. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that combines a cruise we’ve saved for two years AND spend time in the parks. Park time initially wasn’t in our plans when we booked the cruise!
Disney Parks picks out a new group of panelists each year. The newbies get to attend a training at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s an intense and wonderful way to get to know a group of people who also adore the Disney experience. Last December, I had a chance to train with nine other wonderful people. We make a great team. As the year went on, we’ve become more than just co-workers. We’re family. We cheEAR each other on, we laugh at our funny life moments, and cry together when we are hurting. I’ve also had a chance to get to know a number of other panelists from previous years. We only knew each other online until this past month. That’s when I had a chance to attend the Disney Parks Moms Panelist Reunion. It’s an unofficial (but official) event each year where all of the past panelists have a chance to meet and geek out together.
My winning Disney Springs scavenger hunt team!
During our reunion, present and past panelists got to play in the parks, eat yummy food, and we even had a super fun scavenger hunt through Disney Spring. (My team won!)
This month wraps up two years of a lot of Disney. Over the last 24 months, I’ve had a tremendous number of opportunities to enjoy the parks. I’ve loved getting to know panelists and Disney Cast Members. As I continue to focus on my full-time job (which never fell out of my view… but Born Just Right saw fewer posts this year) and helping Born Just Right move forward as a non-profit, I will never forget this incredible experience. Thanks to my amazing panelist team, my wonderful friends, and my family for being okay with watching me sit with my computer on my lap a lot this year.
2017 is the TENTH panelist group and I know they’re going to have an amazing year. I can’t wait to step back and watch all the magic happen.
I’m so thankful I had a chance to meet and spend time with so many panel members – past and present – during the reunion.
Even though Jordan and I had huge adventures in our first 24 hours in Chicago, the real reason we visited the city was to kick off the building process for a new prosthetic arm after she grew out of her newest one less than a year after we built one the summer of 2015. It’s the first time she’s grown up so rapidly in a long time. Most arms have lasted about 18 months at a time, so I can’t complain.
After a jam-packed first day in the city, Jordan and her prosthetist, David Rotter, worked a very long day to put together a test socket before we flew home that night.
Jordan has worked on building prosthetics with Dave for the last eight years, so they’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. Add in Jordan’s work on learning about design and the two had even more ways to communicate and work together. This time around, not only did Jordan give input on what she’d like to use with her next prosthetics, but she also got to help build her test socket.
After casting her arm, Jordan got to help build her test socket and even learn how to make a socket. She got to drill holes, glue things and help piece things together as Dave and his crew built out a new arm. She’s especially excited about the concept of being able to tighten and loosen the hold on her arm with the help of a cool-looking lacing system.
We’re excited to see some of Dave’s ideas. He wants to make it possible for Jordan to add standard and 3D printed hands to the arm they’re creating. This mashup concept isn’t traditional, and I’m excited to see Jordan getting this chance to break with tradition.
The big difference between this round of prosthetics from the past is we only had 24 hours of building. Every other time we’ve worked with Dave, we spent a full week in town. This time, we hope to use a combination of shipping items back and forth along with using our 3D printer to tinker with the test socket. We think our next tester will arrive soon! (Dave was waiting on a part and he’s going to use a backup one so we can keep moving with the design.)
As always, I need to thank Dave and his entire staff at Scheck & Siress at UIC Hospital. They went above and beyond the call of duty getting the test socket complete in one long and intense day. I’m constantly thankful for our huge team of support. I am honored the entire team was willing to let a ten-year-old invade their workspace as she got to learn and participate in the building of her socket. This maker kid is learning so much this year.