CoMO Seattle 2015: Promises To Keep . . .

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Mohandas Gandhi
It is fitting and ironic that CoMO’s (Confederation of Meningitis Organisations) recent global conference transpired in the shadow of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. The imposing tower’s lofty height mirrored the expansive hopes and dreams of CoMO’s 43 attendees representing 26 countries.
The gigantic needle-like structure was also a constant reminder to CoMO members, many of whose lives and families have been forever altered by meningitis, that vaccine-prevention is still the most effective way for people to avoid contracting this indiscriminate killer.

Led by CoMO president Bruce Langoulant – with a supporting cast of Governing Council members, this year’s gathering had its fair share of golden moments under the Seattle sun. Most notable among them were as follows:

Gates Foundation Visit/Tour
Prior to the CoMO global conference – governing council members were privileged to be able to meet with representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Hoping to explore the possibility of a future relationship with the Foundation – CoMO president Bruce Langoulant, gave the GF reps an overview of CoMO’s history and accomplishments.
CoMO GC members then were provided with an overview of the GF, shared a wonderful lunch and given a tour of the amazing eco-friendly complex and visitor center, both of which contained countless precious artifacts and inspirational exhibits. In short, the GF visit was a perfect motivational introduction to the conference.
GC members at Gates Foundation

GC members at Gates Foundation

Members’ Personal Stories
 Unquestionably the most powerful, heart-wrenching part of the conference unfolds near the beginning, the sharing of painful personal stories. Hearts, minds and souls of both story-tellers and audience members are stretched to the breaking point as painful memories are revisited and shared.

 Yet it is through tears and sharing the heartache, that meningitis survivors and family members can begin to emerge from the long, dark night of the soul into the hope-filled brilliant light of day.

Welcome New CoMO Members
If new CoMO members Nick Springer (National Meningitis Association), Sue & Al Koeing (Emily’s Dash Foundation), Alicia and Michael Stillman (Emily Stillman Foundation), Furakh Mir (Meningitis Relief Canada), Nayoon Song and Hyeran Kim (Korean Meningitis Centre) are any indication – the future of CoMO looks bright indeed! All of these individuals bring a deep passion and keen intelligence to the task of educating others of the symptoms and how to protect themselves against meningitis.
Group shot

CoMO Conference Seattle – Group Photo

Promises To Keep And Miles To Go . . .
As always – with so little time and much ground to cover – the conference agenda was jam-packed. Agenda topics over two days included: CoMO Initiatives/Reports, Regional Updates, Strategies to Ensure Fundraising Success, Making Meningitis Relevant In Your Country, Developing and Sharing of Regional Plans.

Passing The Torch
One of the more bitter-sweet moments of this year’s conference involved current CoMO president and Asia Pacific Regional leader, Bruce Langoulant, handing the CoMO leadership baton off to incoming president Chris Head, CEO of the Meningitis Research Foundation UK. Langoulant’s personal story of meningitis (2 Lives Two different Outcomes) involving his radiant daughter Ashley – ignited his passion to cultivate, nurture and grow CoMO into the world-class organization it is today.

The Glue
Of course, any organization would soon fall apart without the selfless, dedicated individuals who toil behind the scenes – people like Linda Gibbs (Office Manager), Daphne Holt and Sam Rosoman (Marketing and Admin Officer).

As the Seattle sun set on another CoMO Global conference – CoMO members would do well to reflect on a job well done and their pledge to continue the good fight against meningitis in their own regions.

by Michael Redfearn
Secretary, Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada
Secretary, CoMO GC & Americas Regional Representative

Related Links:
Other CoMO Member Stories
‘Out of the Blue’ : The story of the Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada