Making an Impact at EduCon

Hospitality Helping Hands participants will put together wheelchairs to donate to the Arizona chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Author: Curt Wagner       

Wheelchair Build

On-site EduCon attendees can take part in Hospitality Helping Hands on Thursday, where they will assemble and decorate wheelchairs to be donated to the Arizona chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America — like those pictured above from a previous event organized by Southwest Conference Planners.

PCMA not only is bringing people together in person at EduCon this year, it’s giving them a chance to do something good for U.S. military veterans through its Hospitality Helping Hands (HHH) initiative — an EduCon first.

At 3:30 p.m. today, more than 35 registered attendees will take part in a “wheelchair build” where they will prepare wheelchairs to donate to the Arizona chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (AZPVA), which serves U.S. military veterans who endure spinal cord injury and spinal cord disease/dysfunction. There still is space to participate — those on-site EduCon registrants wishing to join this project can just show up at The Hub (Grand Canyon 6).

Stacey Shafer, PCMA’s vice president of community engagement, said PCMA recognized a connection in mission with AZPVA. “We believe in supporting differently abled individuals as part of our Ascent principles,” Shafer told Convene. Ascent is an initiative by PCMA and Convene to promote diversity, equity and inclusion across the business events industry. “There was natural alignment in providing support for those needing assistance with mobility,” Shafer said.

The charity choice is especially fitting, given that July is Disability Pride Month.

Participants will be divided into teams who will complete fun challenges to earn trips to “shop” for the wheelchair parts and other materials. They then will assemble, test, and decorate the wheelchairs for donation. PCMA is partnering with Southwest Conference Planners, who is facilitating the activity and working with vendors who will supply all the wheelchair parts as well as materials — including stuffed animals, flags, and signs — to both decorate the wheelchairs and to fill accompanying gifts packs.

MGM Resorts International is sponsoring the initiative, a partnership PCMA is “truly grateful for,” Shafer said. “Through their support we are able to provide greater assistance to this deserving organization.”

Erica Gordon Hyman, director of global sales at MGM Resorts International, said corporate social responsibility projects are important to the organization. “We care for our communities through volunteerism and philanthropy. We build and operate thoughtfully. We strive to create opportunity and positive outcomes wherever we are in the world,” she said.

While contributing to local charities has been a regular part of past EduCons through the Give Back Bash, this is the first time Hospitality Helping Hands, a Convening Leaders staple, has taken place at EduCon. These kinds of social-impact activities at PCMA programs are “core to our mission,” Shafer said.

“We believe in making an impact in the communities where we meet. When people come together for a purpose, it builds strong connections and this is what our industry is seeking,” she said. “We’re looking forward to team building, networking and giving back to great organization.”

Curt Wagner is digital editor at Convene.