The Laurita Spina Bifida Project to launch at Hispanicize 2016

Why, yes. It has indeed been a while.

Mea culpa. I may not have been fully “present” on Holdin’ Out for a Hero, but please rest assured…incredible things have been happening behind the scenes– miracles, actually!

Today, after 19 years of wishing, learning, waiting, and hoping, after years of prayers, all answered, not all in the way I anticipated, after much hard work and informal advocacy, it’s happening.

My non-profit organization, The Laurita Spina Bifida Project, is launching today during Hispanicize 2016– in Miami, no less.

Don’t pinch me, please. I don’t want to wake up!

It’s been a long time coming. I mean, really. I remember growing up thinking that starting any kind of organization– for-profit or non-profit– required wealth, and lots of it.

I remember wondering why I wasn’t rich and able to fulfill my dream.

I remember writing my first letter to Oprah Winfrey, and pouring my heart into it, asking her to shoot an episode about spina bifida. And I remember very clearly the polite “no, thank you” letter I received from The Oprah Winfrey Show– at age eleven.

Sometimes I wonder why I just didn’t give up and pursue a different path. I believe anyone with spina bifida can be just about anything within some reason. I could have done anything.

Instead, I chose the road less traveled. The one that hadn’t been trodden before– the one I had to pave myself.

But I haven’t walked it alone. Oh, no. There have been angels. Dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of them. And they carried me on their wings whenever I was too exhausted, too angry, too bitter from the failed efforts to keep flying.

It is now that I realize it. My “failures” weren’t failures at all– they were practice; my boot camp. With teachers, mentors, trainers, fellow advocates, cheerleaders, I worked through these failures and got up again.

My initial vision was to host a launch event at a restaurant in Orlando, close to where I live. Instead, I am in the heart of Downtown Miami, surrounded by fellow bloggers, journalists, entertainers, photographers, marketers, and seasoned non-profit industry veterans. Many of these are people I call very close friends.

In retrospect, I cannot imagine launching my precious childhood dream anywhere else, surrounded by so many of the people who are actually helping to make it happen!

Today, as I prepare to meet friends, family, and colleagues for Happy Hour at Toro Toro Miami and our extended community on Twitter at 5:00 p.m., I’m sure we’ll have a lot of last-minute details to think of.

As for me, I’ll also be reflecting on everyone, everything, every incredible moment that has brought me– us– here.

Today, I finally know it was all for good.

Please join us today on Twitter using the hashtags #TheLSBProject and #SpinaBifida (#EspinaBífida para español, también). Be sure to RSVP here to be eligible to win some awesome prizes!

And if you’d like to contribute to our crowdfunding campaign, that’s here.

To see the fabulous press release that my friends and colleagues at Hispanicize Wire published about our launch, please click here.

 

Till tonight! And…thank you. 

Love,

Laurita

Your Shoes are Killing Me

 

One of the definitive moments of the feature film, “Sex and the City,” shows protagonist Carrie Bradshaw entering the large closet of her would-be new apartment. As the lights flicker on, she takes in the size of it (really, it’s ginormous) and imagines all of the designer shoes she will fill it with.

I cringe whenever I watch that scene, as much as I love that film (can you say, “guilty pleasure”?).

Because I would never find enough “sexy” shoes to fill that closet with, even if I could afford them all.

Because the shoe industry has neglected to make shoes for women like me. Women with small feet. Women with spina bifida

For me, an assertive invitation of “Let’s go shoe shopping” from Mami evokes feelings of being a lamb dragged off to the slaughterhouse.

I’ve been that girl— the one who has broken down in the size 5 aisle of Payless, or many a shoe store. Because they don’t carry anything smaller for me

Indeed, some of my cutest “girly” shoes are in children’s sizes. And yes, they’re flats

I can’t wear heels unless they are even. None of those stiletto-style heels or wedges— even the shortest heels will have me teetering off-balance within seconds of standing.

 

Shoes

One of the few pairs of shoes in my closet that have short heels. I wore this outfit to a vintage-themed event. When I posted this as my profile pic a while back, I received compliments on my cute pose. Little does anyone probably realize I am grasping at the tree to keep from stumbling.

 

As I visit shopping malls and see signs indicating accessible entrances and restrooms, and ramps conveniently placed across from accessible parking areas, I am reminded of how far we’ve come as a society that is striving to welcome people with spina bifida and other disorders.

As I scour the ladies’ footwear section of any major department store, I am cruelly reminded of how far we still need to go. 

Indeed, I think my gender makes things worse for me as a shoe consumer. Men can get away with wearing more comfortable shoes, and even dress shoes don’t have heels. In fact, they could probably get away with wearing the same pair of shoes for a week straight, and no one would be the wiser.

The entire culture of being a woman in the 21st century is centered around footwear. “I don’t know if I have shoes that will match this outfit!” “Let’s go shoe shopping this weekend.” “Oh, my shoes are killing me, and I didn’t bring rescue shoes.” 

Guess what? Your “rescue shoes” are what I would wear to a social function. For me, there is no such thing as rescue shoes, because I cannot wear the shoes you need so badly to be rescued from. 

I can recall so many occasions on which I’ve attended parties with girlfriends. Near the end of the night, they are complaining about their shoes. “God, my shoes are KILLING me, Laurita! You are so lucky you get to use that wheelchair. Can I borrow it?”

No, you may not borrow my chair, because it is not a one-time deal. With this wheelchair, (which I use often for events, especially when I have to resort to wearing uncomfortable boots to match an outfit) comes a lifetime of regret. A lifetime of envy, resentment, and anger, because I cannot wear the shoes that are killing you right now. Because I wasn’t granted the luxury of being able to wear strappy heels that I will remove in less than two hours to dance barefoot on the dance floor after my feet have blistered.

Because as much as I hate to admit it, especially to myself, I LOVE the shoes that every woman loves— the strappy, shiny heels that you seem to glide effortlessly in, while I stumble clumsily in my flat boots.

Because Fate long ago decided that I do not get to live the Carrie Bradshaw fantasy for one lousy night, because that’s life.

Oh, your shoes are killing you? Then by all means, be my guest and remove them. You know what? They’re killing me, too. 

The 2014 SoftRock Holiday Giving Gala #SRGiving

This past Saturday, I was invited by a new friend to attend the SoftRock Holiday Giving Gala at Tier Nightclub in Downtown Orlando! Samantha Weaver is senior writer for SoftRock, a media company that designs software and multimedia for businesses.

The premise of their Giving Gala was to invite guests– in exchange for a pledge to give time in volunteer hours for any charitable organization.

I love that concept. 

Indeed, for me, there is nothing better than encouraging employees to support a worthy cause, or even several!

So, when Samantha invited me to this event, I simply couldn’t resist. 😉

Mami was my plus-one at the gala, and we got the star treatment that night! We were picked up promptly by a car service and taken to Tier Nightclub, a trendy spot in Downtown Orlando.

Me_TownCar

I was really impressed to see so many plush, comfy sofas in a club setting! I wasn’t expecting that.

 

SamanthaWeaver_and_meWith Samantha Weaver, Senior Writer for SoftRock

I enjoyed drinks and tasty appetizers with Mami, and did a lot of people-watching!


MamiAndMe

Mami and me. :)
 

Me_phone

Caught live-Tweeting and instagramming! 
 
 
It was great to run into several friends– some of them from way back! 
 
LynnAndMe
 
With Lynn Hoppes, who now works with SoftRock, and who I met as Sports Editor when I was interning at Orlando Sentinel in college. 
 
 
JenAndMe
 
With my friend, Jen Vargas, of Central Florida Top 5
 
 
LadiesNight
With the ladies! Samantha, Jen, me, and Jeanette Scott of J’s Everyday Fashion
 
 
AlecDifrawi_and_me
 
With Alec Difrawi, Founder & CEO of SoftRock. 
 
 

I’m so glad I was invited out to the party, and even more excited to start the year off by taking a pledge to volunteer in my community!

Thanks, Samantha– and thanks SoftRock!

Laurita :)

 

Keeping Perspective: ‘Hero’ Spencer Day Twitter Chat a Success!

When you’re going through life, struggling to keep up with everything that’s going on with you, around you, it can be a real challenge sometimes to remember why you “do what you do.”
Three years and eight months ago, I had the opportunity to meet my new musical “idol,” contemporary jazz singer and songwriter, Spencer Day. I was simply overjoyed to meet him, and I honestly never thought much would happen after that.

 

DSC01390Spencer and me, enjoying a cup of coffee in NYC in August 2010. 

 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Since our initial encounter in Clearwater for a jazz festival, after which we talked at length and I briefed him on my campaign for raising awareness of spina bifida, we have remained connected. He knows I’m moving forward, deciding what the next step will be for this cause, and he wants to be there to support it, in any way he can.

Several months ago, the opportunity arose for me to be involved in helping his career, by collaborating with his fan club and promoting events, music, and Spencer’s latest projects on different social media channels.

Out of all the work I’ve done thus far in my life– including past jobs– few things have been as rewarding for me as the experience of being a part of Spencer’s Fan Club Social Media Team. We started as a motley crew, an assortment of people who clearly share a common interest– an enthusiasm for Spencer Day’s music.

About a month ago, a crazy, random idea popped into my head: Hey, guys, why don’t we host a Twitter party for Spencer? 

It seemed like a harebrained project to take on, considering I’m always on the go, and everyone is busy during the holidays. But we decided to do it.

Yesterday evening, I hosted, along with Spencer as our guest of honor, a Twitter chat with many of Spencer’s biggest fans, in addition to quite a few people who are new to Spencer’s music. The conversation was lively, informal, and very funny at times! Attendees were encouraged to ask Spencer anything– and they did, and he responded. 😉 

As I sipped on my coffee (in my pajamas!) while trying to keep up with the conversation thread, I marveled that such an awesome cyber event could be pulled off in such a short window of time. I also couldn’t help but feel gratitude toward all of the people who participated– even if only for a few minutes during their busy evening.

As a social media consultant, the number of “impressions” or “pageviews” matters. It’s a measurement of quantifiable success, and it’s the most “tangible” evidence of whether or not an online event was a success.

As a person, however, I realized that shouldn’t matter to me. 

What mattered is that everywhere I looked in my Twitter feed, I could see familiar “faces,” avatars and usernames of my friends, some bloggers, some non-bloggers, who showed up in support of me– and in support of Spencer. 

We also got to reward some of Spencer’s fans and followers! We gave away 5 copies of Spencer’s latest album, “The Mystery of You,” as well as 6 digital copies of Spencer’s holiday album, “If Christmas Doesn’t Kill Me.” It was so rewarding to make people happy by sharing his music!

The report I generated afterwards showed that, in the past week, the hashtag #SpencerDay has had over 1.8 million impressions.  That’s not bad at all, considering how many holiday/Christmas parties, family gatherings, business events, and other commitments everyone has going on during this season, that make it difficult to participate in online events.

 

SpencerDayTwitterResults

 

For a social media consultant, those 1.8 million impressions are the definition of success. 

For me, however, it’s those familiar faces, the “avatars” I know so well, that made me feel like a winner. 

I’m truly blessed to have so many people who genuinely support and “get” what I do. Even my parents, who years ago found the words “blog” and “Tweet” intimidating, pitched in by Tweeting and making sure I had a hot mug of coffee to help me stay alert. 😉

Yes, it’s true– there are people who might measure success in different ways– by monetary earnings, job promotions, or how many conference speaking gigs they landed in a year.

That’s all good and enticing. (Hey, who wouldn’t want all that?!)

But sitting at my laptop, Tweeting furiously and watching as the stream flowed constantly with new comments, questions, and retweets from people both familiar and unfamiliar, I couldn’t help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world. 

Thank you, from the bottom of my grateful heart, to all of you who joined, shared, Tweeted, promoted, and encouraged. Thanks to all of you who had the most awesome things to say about Spencer’s music, whether it was the first song you’d heard or if you’ve been a longtime listener. 

Thanks for being there anytime I’ve wondered if I could do something. Thanks for lifting me up.

 

Thanks, above all, for helping me to keep my perspective.

 

If you aren’t already following Spencer, please do so here:

 

Spencer Day on Twitter 

Spencer Day on Facebook 

Spencer Day Fan Club on Twitter 

Spencer Day Fan Club on Facebook

 

 

Love,

Laurita ♥

A Different Campaign Continues

Yes, I know there are other things going on today. Namely, one big thing— the most historic presidential election in U.S. history. Don’t think I’ve forgetten; I’ve already voted! 😉

But after weeks of being bombarded on both my Facebook and Twitter feeds with political post after political (or apolitical) post, I wanted to take a breather and reflect on the awesomeness that was October.

The beginning of November marked the end of Spina Bifida Awareness Month for this year. To say it was a smashing success would be the understatement of the century– we killed it! 

But the campaign isn’t over. Yes, the Walk-N-Roll donation link is still active. Please share, and donate away!

There are so many issues at stake besides prevention– quality of life for children and adults alike, educating Ob/Gyns about the facts on spina bifida so they can give impartial but encouraging information to expectant parents, and not to mention those with spina bifida all over the world, many who might not be as fortunate as we are to have such a strong community.

I know I’ve thanked you over the past few weeks for all your support– but there are a few people and organizations that I would like to reiterate my thanks to.

First, I need to thank Bravo! Cucina Italiana for their support and for providing the location for my local fundraiser for the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida. We raised $120 that night, and we also raised awareness!

Also, I want to take the time in this post to personally thank each and every one of the sponsors, bloggers, and supporters of the very first Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida Twitter Party I co-hosted on October 17th.

 

Chantilly Patiño was the driving force that organized, planned, coordinated and then hosted the Twitter chat. She also sought out sponsors, got us donations for prizes raffled during the Twitter party, and wrote up the script and designed the promotional graphics. Have I said THANK YOU? Not enough!! Chantilly has indeed become a wonderful friend, fellow advocate, and key supporter of my spina bifida campaign.

Chantilly also took it upon herself to help me moderate the Spina Bifida Advocacy Network, which we officially launched during the Twitter party. Currently, our group boasts nearly 500 members and growing!

When all was said and done, our jaws dropped collectively when the Twitter party report revealed we had nearly 2 million impressions! A truly miraculous, magical night for the Spina Bifida cause.

Now, it’s time to really recognize all the sponsors/organizations that made it happen. I encourage you all to visit their Web sites and support them in whatever way you can!

 

 

Whether they blogged about the awareness campaign, donated a prize for the Twitter party, co-hosted the party with us, or simply sent us good vibes, all of these sponsors now deserve to be showered with love!

A very special thanks goes out to Latino Rebels for immediately following up the Twitter conversation with a TweetReach report showing that social media can make a difference for a great cause!

 

 

I could never thank them enough for taking that extra step to ensure everyone understands the significance of that night!

 

So yes…a very special election is taking place today in the U.S. I’ve already voted, and I hope you get out to vote, too! But as far as my preferences and values are concerned…my vote goes out to the Spina Bifida cause. I believe in it, and I hope you’ve come to believe in it as strongly as I do.

Yes, October is over. But now the real work begins– which is to keep spina bifida in the public eye, and in the minds and hearts of everyone.

 

Love,

Laurita ♥

Awareness: The End, Not the Means

When I set out to be captain of my own team again for the SBACFL Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida, I never imagined just how many people my humble efforts would reach– in Central Florida, as well as beyond.

On Wednesday night, Chantilly Patiño of Multicultural Familia and Bicultural Mom moderated our very first Walk-N-Roll Twitter Party for Spina Bifida.

An unprecedented online event meant to raise both funds and awareness, we managed to raise $120 for the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida. More importantly–we did raise awareness. During this Twitter party, the hashtag #SpinaBifida had nearly 2 million impressions! This is a huge leap forward for the spina bifida cause.

I could never thank Chantilly and all the sponsors and co-hosts enough for all their hard work and dedication to this cause. I’m truly moved by everyone’s show of support. I was also amazed by how many joined the conversation– both people who had been touched by spina bifida, and people who knew nothing of spina bifida before this event. Both groups alike joined forces for this effort, and I will always be grateful to all of them.

On Thursday evening, I hosted another event– in person, at Bravo! Cucina Italiana, here in Orlando. Proceeds from ticket sales benefited the SBACFL Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida.

An intimate crowd joined us in support of The Cause, including two families who are part of the SBACFL. A special thanks to Amanda Kern, who took some beautiful photos of the event.

 

 

 Why, oh why did I have my eyes closed for this one? An otherwise beautiful family portrait, taken by the ever-attentive Bravo staff.

 

Bravo! Cucina Italiana General Manager Michael Monahan was the one who made it all happen that evening. Thank you so much for caring about the Spina Bifida community! :)


*SIGH* At every event I attend or host, I have to put up with another of Mami’s gratuitous photo shoots. #Mamarazzi

 


Our friend Giancarlo came to support our event!

 

My good friends Brett and Krystal also came out to support me! Love them.

I’m always grateful for Vionet-Edith’s support. She’s a true friend…part of the family. :)

Attendees were greeted by an assortment of appetizers and enjoyed drinks on the terrace. We couldn’t have prayed for better weather!

Speaking of prayers…my beloved priest, Father Bassam, was there to support me and my family.

 

 

I was able to share special moments with other people, including a camera crew from the UCF Cornerstone program. These college students from my alma mater are volunteering for New Hope for Kids, another one of my favorite organizations, and they showed up to interview me about my experience as a wish recipient!

 

 (There’s more photos where that came from! Stay tuned. :)  )

 

Another priceless moment that evening was reuniting with Amanda’s son Chance. Now 20 months old, this incredible little guy has touched so many lives already. Ever since the first time I met him over a year ago, I’ve felt a very strong connection to him. He is definitely very special to me. I love Super Chance! :)

(Note: All the following photos are courtesy of AmandaKern.com.)

 

 

My wonderful family is always so incredibly supportive. I couldn’t do any of it without them!

 

 

It’s true– Amanda went on a *photo* shooting rampage during the event– expect to see some photos of all the Walk-N-Roll team captains as part of the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida publicity campaign!

Other attendees included Shannon Celentano’s family, Dede Mischel. Thank you so much for your support!

When all was said and done, we made $120 for the Walk-N-Roll. Hmmm…I guess that’s my number. Maybe I should play the lottery…?

I feel remarkably blessed to have so many people supporting me. Whether it’s online or off, in person or from afar, there are so many ways that people can impact a life, support a good cause.

So, thanks to each and every one of you who attended and/or promoted either the Twitter party and/or the Bravo! event. I’m amazed and humbled by your love and support.

As if these events weren’t enough to send me into “awareness overload,” a truly remarkable meeting took place on the Saturday following the Bravo event which some of you heard about on Facebook. Yes, I actually met Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour for the first time in person, while she was in Orlando covering the campaigns.

 

During our meeting, Judy eagerly agreed to an interview! Below is our chat.

 

And when all is said and done…whether you have given a donation or spread the word, you are helping! Awareness isn’t just a means to an end– it is the end we’re searching for.

 

Love,

Laurita ♥

Accessibility is Not Optional: An Open Letter to the Hilton New York

On August 1st, I arrived in New York City to attend the BlogHer 2012 conference. From then until August 5th, I stayed at the Hilton New York, which, conveniently, was the site of the event. 

The BlogHer conference is one of the largest conferences for bloggers out there, and the largest social media conference geared towards women. 

 

 

Let me first mention that this is not the first event I’ve attended at the Hilton New York. In 2010, I attended the BlogHer conference for the first time, and that’s where it was held. Last year (2011), I attended Affiliate Summit East, also held at the Hilton New York.  Not being one who likes to dwell on the negative, I overlooked– twice– the obvious accessibility issues that are impossible for someone using a wheelchair to ignore. 

I’ve had enough. I’m speaking out. 

At least three of the events that weekend (August 2-4) were held at a ballroom which, I later learned, was part of a separate building where the Hilton rents space. Still, imagine my horror when I first found out that the only way to access that ballroom is by using the escalator– or a cargo elevator.

Yes, you read that correctly. 

In allowing several of the parties that weekend to be held in a separate location that was inaccessible by a regular, human-friendly elevator (as opposed to a cargo elevator, which is totally unacceptable), the Hilton New York sent BlogHer attendees the message that they are both unprepared and unwilling to cater to the needs of guests with disabilities.

I personally paid to stay at the hotel during the conference because, ironically, of the ‘convenience.'” But if convenience to them means being condescendingly treated like cargo and being forced to a ride a potentially dangerous freight elevator, then I will unfortunately have to miss out on future events. 

When BlogHer attendees obtain a conference pass, they are assuming to be treated on an equal level as all the other attendees. What happened to me– having to wait 20 minutes while an employee verified that there was no alternate access to the event, therefore missing the first part of the party, then being addressed in childish terms (“it’s okay, sweetie”) by an unprofessional Hilton employee, and riding an elevator that is not intended for guests– is a far cry from the sense of equality and solidarity that one usually feels at BlogHer. And for the Hilton, it is a blatant and unapologetic violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

 

After I Tweeted the Hilton New York account several times (with much restraint, I might add), I finally received direct messages from them, claiming they wanted to “meet with me” to “rectify the situation.” After several misses, I was mortified to discover their idea of atonement was to seek me out during the Voices of the Year ceremony (during which I was an honoree), a formal, sit-down event with speakers that had already begun. They made a paltry attempt at apologizing to me in front of my bewildered parents (whom the Hilton people did not even address) and went on their way.

The disability is theirs, not mine. I still can’t believe how rude they were to the two people who have been supportive of me in every way. 

I Tweeted them again before checking out of the hotel, asking to meet with them again in the hopes of having the chance to discuss things calmly, without other people around, but they replied after I had already left, rendering their “efforts” pointless.

Now, I cannot speak about the situation without pointing something out: I was not the only blogger with a disability at this event. I saw plenty of wheelchairs during the conference, and God only knows how many others had invisible challenges. I’m not trying to make assumptions based on what I saw– I’ll only surmise that I wasn’t the only one.

If there is one good thing at all to be found in this humiliating experience, it’s this: two fellow bloggers I had just met and who were eager to join the party insisted on waiting with me and then rode the ‘fright’ elevator with me. I can’t thank them enough for their genuine concern and willingness to stand by a fellow blogger. They were just as outraged as I was, and they followed up with me to ask if I had been contacted by the Hilton.

 

 

So to me, that one positive aspect of these unfortunate events highlighted a promising point: while the Hilton New York drew a metaphorical dividing line between a minority group (those with disabilities) and the rest of the group, the BlogHer community didn’t hesitate to cross this very same line in their support of me. I felt very proud to know that my fellow bloggers didn’t see a distinction between “my problem” and “their problem.” When one blogger is slighted, the entire community stands beside her in solidarity. 

And my fellow bloggers weren’t the only one to take a special interest in this situation. TheAssistant Director of Food and Beverage at the hotel, Jason Tresh, happened to be standing near the ballroom at lunchtime. I didn’t have time to sit down and eat, because my volunteer shift at the registration booth was about to start. 

The kind employee offered to bring me a plate of food to the booth, and I got to talking with him about what had happened the night before. He was outraged. He couldn’t stop apologizing to me, even if he had nothing to do with it. 

Near the end of our earnest conversation, he handed me his card. “It doesn’t matter what time it is– if you need anything at all, you call me at that number.” 

I thanked him wholeheartedly. The next evening, just as attendees lined up at the escalator to go up to another party, I took him at his word, and called. 

He was there in five minutes, to personally escort me, along with Kelly Kwok Lee, Meeting and Conference Service Manager, and an intern, in the same freight elevator, to the party. Only this time, I was treated with the dignity and respect worthy of a guest. I was the first person admitted to the party, and the way I was treated, by this man who decided to take responsibility for another’s inaction, made me feel truly like an honored guest, and not like a nagging inconvenience. Jason instructed me to let Kelly know whenever I was ready to leave the party, and he would come to escort me. 

 

Mami and me with Jason Tresh, who helped turn a negative situation into a positive one! Thanks so much, Jason!

 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that, after we checked out of the Hilton New York, my parents and I checked into the Hilton Garden Inn, a very small hotel, just a few blocks away from where we had been, and yet it was worlds away in service.

We showed up at the hotel, and we asked if by chance our room was ready. It was already 3 p.m.-ish, but it wasn’t ready yet, so we asked to stow our luggage in the lobby in the meantime, so we could walk around the city. They had no problem with this. 

When we returned to the Hilton Garden Inn, it was past five, we were tired, we needed to change, and we were informed the room still wasn’t ready. In total PTSD mode (once, burned, twice shy!), we said, almost in unison, that that was unacceptable. We needed a room– now. 

The young manager immediately took it upon himself to rectify the situation. He offered to show us another room that was available, identical to our original one but on a different floor. He said if we liked it, we were welcome to stay there instead. We agreed that was fine for us, and he said “I’ll be buying you breakfast tomorrow morning.” All this, with a pleasant smile and every reassurance. 

Customer service done RIGHT. 

I’m glad Mami took the initiative of snapping a photo of a notice that is prominently displayed at the front desk of the Hilton Garden Inn: 

As good as gold for me!

 

And that, Hilton New York management, is at the very heart of the problem you are facing. Social media isn’t about who’s manning the Twitter account and is able to respond quickly– it’s really all about one thing: our shared humanity.

I’m looking into the process of filing a formal complaint against the Hilton New York. Not because I’m trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, but because everyone else at BlogHer (or simply staying at the hotel) who I saw with wheelchairs, walkers, and canes, deserve better. 

Our humanity demands it.