by Chuck Jones
I just got back from Kansas City, Missouri where I had the pleasure of setting up our MegaBrain and Elsie computer exhibit for the 2012 KC Black Expo, September 7-9. We were in Bartle Hall which is a huge building that is part of the Kansas City Convention Center. It is so big that it has three loading docks, which made it kind of tough to find the MegaBrain after it was delivered.
Elsie and her Brain were part of the Research Medical Center booth. While we had only one small area on the convention hall floor, Research Medical Center, affiliated with the HCA MidAmerica Health System, was the major sponsor of the KC Black Expo this year. Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is the largest hospital association in America and is headquartered in Nashville, Tennesee.
This is Gina Taylor. Without her I would have had a much more daunting task setting up and managing the MegaBrain. She and two other ladies, Renee and Star backed me up when I needed a break now and then. They also helped me keep count of the visitors going through the brain when my attention was diverted elsewhere. Gina also helped me get registered and get a vendor parking pass so I could park near the loading dock of the convention center.
Gina and her associates were there to promote stroke and cancer awareness. Most of the time they were busy conducting blood pressure testing and health risk profiling of the visitors who came through the booth. And they helped direct visitors to the MegaBrain.
I want to give special mention to Bishop Mark Tolbert and La Monica Moore, also, for their help in finding the MegaBrain and getting me the much needed resources and man power for setting up the 300 lb. MegaBrain Thursday night and, then, getting it back in the shipping crate Sunday night.
We had over seven hundred visitors through the brain and many compliments about both the MegaBrain and Elsie the computer quiz.
The Black Expo is an incredible event with over 140 vendors listed in the directory showcasing a myriad of different products. The event coordinators were expecting 40,000 visitors this year but I don't think they got that. Many repeat vendors were remarking how low attendance was this year. There were automobile dealers, Bass Pro Shops was there displaying boats, vendors displaying jewelry, cosmetics, purses, art, banking, remodeling,
and construction. I was drawn to this one because I'm retired from Caterpillar and the little models of the construction equipment caught my attention (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).
There were also many concerts and celebrities there. Tia Norfleet, the first and only African American female licensed by NASCAR was there - very beautiful woman. Her car had hydraulic problems so they couldn't bring it into the center. Isaiah Washington was there, too. I heard he was on Grey's Anatomy or something. He was there for a book signing for his book "A Man from another Land: How Finding My Roots Changed My Life"
There was even a dental group there giving free dental care, such as, consultation, cleaning, and even filling and extraction. Whatever was needed.
One particularly interesting exhibit was by the KC Police Athletic League. The picture on the left shows Officer Daniel Watson of the KC Police Athletic League in the car used on the D.A.R.E Car Course. What made it interesting is that it simulates driving drunk. You have the option of day or night driving. At Officer Watson's urging I decided to try this and came back later and selected the day time goggles. I didn't do too bad. My vision was such that I was more dizzy than anything else and I didn't knock over any cones. When I completed that run I decided to try the night time goggles. I only got as far as putting them on. There is no way I could have driven that course with those goggles. I was seeing double big time. If that is what drunk driving is like, I don't see how any sane person could get behind the wheel of a car in that condition. If you ever get a chance to try this, I highly recommend it.
Then, of course, what good is any Expo without food, and there was food there in abundance. There was even an open air market selling fruit and cookies and snacks. Well, maybe not exactly open air. We were actually indoors so I guess that's not exactly open air? You can debate that while I eat.
Then there are the small mom and pop food vendors that always have fantastic food. I sampled deep fried catfish like strips and a deep fried chicken strip one (both off someone else's plate and both very good) but settled for chicken wings and fries with hot sauce.
Late breaking news! I just got an email from Larry Schaer our camp Associate Director. We have been invited to next year's Black Expo in Peoria, Illinois. It will be September 6-8, 2013. See you there.