If you let your eyes go out of focus at the Long Beach Convention Center this past weekend, you could think you were at Autism One in Chicago. There were the booths offering alternative medical treatments and supporting activism -- even ones for the Canary Party and Autism One. There were thousands of folks scurrying between dozens of talks, stopping to connect with people they hadn't seen since the last event, or finally meeting face-to-face with those they know so well online.
But this was different. This was the Health Freedom Expo. It represents a major force in fighting for the right to decide one's own medical treatment, and offering the means to do so. For the first time, it welcomed in the autism community as participants. What's more, key officials offered to put the full weight of their advocacy and media outlets behind the push for vaccine choice and the recognition and treatment of vaccine injury.
It was a heady moment, and many of those attending that I talked to were genuinely excited about the crossover potential. All of this came together on Saturday evening at a super-successful fundraiser for Andy Wakefield. Health Freedom advocates like Robert Scott Bell and Tim Bolen joined with familiar faces like Louise Kuo Habakus, Claire Dwoskin, and Ken Stoller to stand with Andy in the defamation lawsuit he filed last year. AOA's own Kim Stagliano did a superb job as emcee. On a personal note, I got to meet the Cedillo family, including Michelle. I feel like they are family to all of us and that I had known Theresa forever. (Mike, Theresa and Michelle are in the photo.)
There was an entire "autism track." On Saturday afternoon, I led a panel with Andy, Tim, and David Lewis, the former EPA scientist whose intellect and integrity have made him a key asset in Andy's fight. After our presentation -- the topic was Media Malfeasance, and we barely got started, of course -- David did his own presentation in which he showed why the institutional corruption now rampant in science comes from the government. Only governments have the power to control grant money and, through it, the kinds of research and results that colleges and universities now must produce if they want to stay on the payroll.
Mary Holland gave a great presentation on the legal implications of court rulings and suggested that an attack on a particularly questionable mandate -- Hep B vaccine at birth -- might open an avenue of constitutional challenge. She showed that the idea that the courts have upheld the kind of vaccine mandates now running rampant is not really true. it was fascinating and ultimately encouraging -- especially knowing that a legal mind like Mary's, and a scientific one like David's, are on our side and committed to the cause for the long run.
I was so happy to get to meet people I've always admired and in many cases corresponded with for years, including Brian Hooker, the FOIA foil of the CDC who gave a presentation and talked to me over lunch about the next set of revealing e-mails he's trying to get sprung for us (names like Verstraeten and Thorsen were part of the conversation). I also talked to Dr. Jerry Kartzinel; "Dr. Mike" from the Holland Center who was there with a delegation of Minnesotans including Wayne Rhode, Jen Larson, and Patti Carroll; Ginger Taylor from the Canary Party, Becky Estepp from EBCALA; Karen Kain, whose daughter Lorrin died from vaccine injury and is now speaking out around the world, and so many more.
As I said, it felt like Autism One on an even bigger stage with a wider cast of characters. I'm hopeful this event will inaugurate a new era of cooperation and multiply the forces that are working to defeat apathy and avoidance and finally help sick kids and end the age of autism.
Oh -- and wouldn't you know: Tim Bolen said this whole thing got started because someone had reached out to him about why it made sense, someone who just never lets up in bringing this issue to the attention of everyone who will listen. Who else but Age of Autism's own Anne Dachel. Thanks, Anne! Never let up.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism and co-author, with Mark Blaxill, of "The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Eipdemic."