2018 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference

April 8, 2018 – April 10, 2018, All Day

Embassy Suites by Hilton Cincinnati Northeast Blue Ash – 4554 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, OH
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Download the 2018 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference Guide

2018 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference

The 2018 Fire Hero Family Wellness conference is open to spouses, life partners, parents, adult children and siblings of fallen firefighters honored at the National Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This conference will include opportunities to reflect on your experiences, connect with other fire service families, and find new direction for your future. Focus will be on information and strategies you can incorporate into your daily life.

The conference will begin with a welcome dinner reception on Sunday, April 8. On Monday, April 9, we will begin with a keynote address in the morning, followed by workshops that focus on self-care. The afternoon will provide the opportunity to connect with peers that truly “get it.” On Tuesday, participants will learn how meditation and stretching can release negative energy from grief and help you be more in control of your emotions.

There is space for 100 attendees, on a first-come, first-served basis or until March 16, 2018.

For more information about this event, please contact Beverly Donlon at (301) 447-1603.

Conference Program Booklet

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will create a printed booklet listing all conference attendees. If you would like us to include your information, please send a brief bio (100 words or less), a photo of yourself, and a photo of your firefighter when you register for the conference.

We must receive this information no later than March 9, 2018.


2018 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference Travel

If you are flying, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is the closest airport to the conference. More information about shuttles will be provided during registration.

Shuttle Transportation

Transportation between the airport and hotel will be available during the following times. Transportation outside of these times are the participant’s responsibility.

Sunday, April 8, 2018
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
9:00 am – 9:00 pm


9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Fun Day Activities

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
The Banks, Over the Rhine Brewery District, and Findlay Market
Newport on the Levee

Thursday, April 12, 2018
9:00 am – 12:00 pm



2018 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference Hotel

The room block includes rooms reserved for Sunday, April 8 – Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Guests are required to make their own reservations by calling (513) 733-8900 or (800) 362-2779 and identifying themselves with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF). The room rate, $136.00 per night plus tax, includes a daily cooked to order breakfast. All reservations must be guaranteed with a major credit card. Reservations canceled 24 hours prior to the arrival date are fully refundable.

The Foundation will reimburse the hotel lodging for three (3) nights (April 8 – 10, 2018). A reimbursement form will be provided to all participants at the conclusion of the conference.

Reservations must be made by Friday, March 16, 2018.


* Exercise sessions are optional and are designed to be accessible to all levels of fitness.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

3:00 – 6:00 pm


Come say hello and get your materials for the conference. Please bring a photo of your firefighter to include in a display that will be posted during the conference. Local therapy dogs will be available for stress relief and general relaxation as you arrive after a day of travel.

6:00 – 9:00 pm

Opening Session/Welcome Dinner

Join us for a welcome dinner and a chance to meet and renew connections with other fire hero families.

Monday, April 9, 2018

7:30 am

Morning Exercise*

6:30 – 9:00 am


9:00 am

Keynote: Lessons from the Very Edge

Vicki Scalzitti

10:00 am


10:15 am

What is My Grief Telling Me?

Vickie Taylor

Grief is as individual as each person’s fingerprint, yet there are some proactive approaches that can be employed to navigate the grieving process. We will explore practical, research-based tools for finding hope and strength after loss.

Self-Compassion as Self-Care for Grief

Heather Stang

Tending to our own suffering with kindness is often placed on the back burner. Some of us can’t even imagine what it would be like to have the time, energy, and wherewithal to take care of ourselves, especially when we are faced with grief. During this workshop we will explore the three principles of self-compassion and discover how to apply them to daily life so you can become your own best friend.

Reflections on Lessons from the Very Edge

Vicki Scalzitti

This is an opportunity for participants to discuss and share the lessons and meaning of their individual grief experience in response to the keynote address. This may be particularly relevant to long-term grievers who would benefit from looking at their loss as life-changing, formative and transformational. Grief never leaves us where, or as, it found us.

12:15 pm


1:30 – 3:30 pm

Afternoon Session: Connecting with Others

These breakout sessions, arranged by relationship to the fallen firefighter, will give participants a chance to get to know one another and to share experiences, memories, and concerns. These are peer-led groups where fire hero family members can learn from and support one another.

3:00 pm

Selfie Scavenger Hunt*

Arlene Zang

Want to participate in a fun activity with a team of your peers? Each group will be assigned a list of photo-ops to complete while they are out walking, dining, and exploring tonight, or even right in the hotel. Photos must be uploaded by midnight. Photo display and prizes to be awarded at dinner on Tuesday. Meet Arlene in the lobby for instructions and team formation.

4:00 – 5:00 pm

Afternoon Walk*

Join fellow family members and a local fire service guide for a walk to nearby Summit Park. Get out for some fresh air, exercise, and conversation! Meet in the lobby.

Dinner is on your own this evening. A list of local restaurants will be available.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

7:30 am

Morning Exercise*

6:30 – 9:00 am


9:00 am – 12 pm

Meditation for Grief

Heather Stang

Meditation can be one of your greatest allies when you are grieving, and learning how is easier than you think! During this workshop you will sample a variety of meditation techniques designed to relax your body, calm your mind, and cope with difficult emotions. You will also learn how to weave moments of mindfulness into your busy schedule and cultivate a daily practice that will have lifelong health and wellness benefits.

Healing with Myofascial Stretching

Denny Doyle

We will learn how the body holds grief and trauma and utilize guided stretching techniques to release and ease ourselves and learn tools for healing our bodies and minds. Myofascial stretching techniques empower anyone to eliminate their pain, restore flexibility and function, and increase wellbeing. As you are guided through these stretches, you’ll learn methods for easing yourself and take home valuable lifelong tools for self-treatment. This session is designed for all fitness and mobility levels. Dress comfortably.

I Need You to Know: Coping and Communicating After the Death

Vicki Scalzitti

This is an interactive workshop focusing on communication issues with the family—immediate and extended. It can be challenging when the people we believed would provide understanding and support seem to present obstacles to our adjustment and healing process. We’ll explore and discuss how to present ourselves clearly and respectfully to others, how to recognize grief reactions that may be very unlike our own, and how to establish paths in our grief that run alongside the grief of others—minus some of the ruts, run-ins and wrecks! Strategies for addressing the misperceptions, expectations, and mis-steps of others will be discussed. We will explore how to let others into our grief experience in a way that is profound and respectful and how to maintain relationships if we can’t.

12:00 pm


1:15 – 3:30 pm

Men’s Service Project

Keith Maupin

Back by popular demand, this session is open to all men attending the conference. This year’s project is with the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, a non-profit that supports troops serving in harm’s way and works to identify resources for returning vets in finding jobs. This is an opportunity to thank our host community and active members of the military through direct action, while paying tribute to the service and memory of all fallen heroes. This is an off-site activity; please meet in the lobby for 1:00 pm departure to the Yellow Ribbon Support Center.

Kindness Rocks! Let Kindness Be Your Legacy

Megan Murphy

If kindness and creativity are your thing, this workshop is for you! By practicing intentional kindness, we can make a difference not only for others but for ourselves. Kindness defuses tension, it builds connections, and it helps give a sense of purpose to life. Come hear a presentation by the founder of the Kindness Rocks Project. Then create your own kindness rocks and begin participating in this worldwide project to spread kindness to others.

Climbing Wall and Open Gym at the Blue Ash Recreation Center

Need a break from classroom sessions? Want to get up and move around a bit while challenging yourself to try new things? Take a field trip to the nearby Blue Ash Recreation Center where you will have an opportunity to use their climbing wall and recreation facility for the afternoon. Please dress accordingly! This is an off-site activity, and you must sign a waiver before participating. Please meet in the lobby for 1:15 pm departure to the Blue Ash Recreation Center.

4:00 – 5:00 pm

Laughter Yoga

Judi Winall

Join us for a lighthearted closing session of laughter yoga. This is not the kind of yoga where you twist yourself into complicated positions. Laughter yoga is a mind-body exercise which counteracts the negative effects of stress and has a profound effect on health and well-being. It was developed by a medical doctor from India and is based on the scientific fact that your body cannot tell the difference between simulated and real laughter. In laughter yoga, you don’t need jokes, comedy, or even a sense of humor to receive the benefits of genuine laughter. It is accomplished through laughter exercises, deep breathing, stretching, and playfulness.

6:00 pm

Dinner/Closing Ceremony

Extend Your Stay

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a National Historic Landmark and second-oldest zoo in the United States. This year-round family attraction features award-winning exhibits including more than 500 animals and 3,000 plant species.

Findlay Market

The Banks, Over the Rhine Brewery District, and Findlay Market

Along Cincinnati’s waterfront there are spectacular places to dine, shop, or experience Cincinnati’s brewing heritage above and below ground. Visit historic pre-Prohibition breweries, including long abandoned lagering cellars and tunnels 30-40 feet below ground! Findlay Market is Ohio’s oldest operated public market and one of Cincinnati’s most cherished institutions. Located just blocks from downtown in Over-the-Rhine, a dense historic neighborhood rich in 19th century architecture, Findlay Market is home to more than 40 indoor merchants selling meat, fish, poultry, produce, flowers, cheese, deli, and ethnic foods.

Newport on the Levee

Newport on the Levee

Newport on the Levee is a place to play, dine and shop. Walk across the country’s longest (2,670-foot span) all-pedestrian bridge that links two states. The 131-year-old L&N Bridge, the “Purple People Bridge” includes park benches and flowering seasonal planters.