I walked into the hotel in February 2016 not quite sure what I had gotten myself into. Washington D.C. wasn’t all that strange to me as I visited a couple of times before, but this visit was different.
After I checked in and pulled my luggage to the elevators, I started to look around. The Dad 2.0 Summit was branded all over the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I look to my left as I turn to the elevators and I see, Scotty and Zach. They probably don’t remember seeing me that day, but I do.
I remember feeling overwhelmed and wondering why I was here. The year before, after seeing the social media activity from the Dad 2.0 Summit, I had decided that I wanted to be there next year.
I did exactly that.
As I loaded the elevators, after seeing two bloggers I look up to, with my imposter syndrome flowing through me, I took a moment to breathe. As the doors closed, I thought about how I was able to make attending the summit happen.
It started because of a man I had never met. A man when I look back on it, I had very limited interaction with but is the reason that so many of us dad bloggers have come together. Not just at the Dad 2.0 Summit but also as part of the online community of dads.
I looked out of my room onto the Potomac River, and I started to wonder if I would have even been there if it were not for him. At the time, The Rookie Dad was just a place for me to write about being a dad. I had never given much thought to the idea that someday, I could make money from it. As I stood there the five years that lead up to this point flashed through my mind. Here I was in a hotel, at a conference, in a city away from my family, because of a man I had never met.
But when it comes down to it, the reason I was standing there was because of what he started. I was attending the summit as the result of being awarded a scholarship to attend in his name, the Oren Miller Scholarship Fund, but it was also because of the dads he brought together who donated to the fund that helped me attend.
After reality hit that I had the evening festivities to attend, I made my way down to the hotel bar, where many of the attendees were gathering. As I made my way down the steps, imposter syndrome and social anxiety flowing through my veins, one man came up to make conversation with me.
I don’t even know if he remembers this, but we talked for quite some time. Various people came in and made their way through our conversation, but I remember him talking about how nervous he was about his daughter dating.
His conversation stuck with me.
At the time, William was only 5, and we were expecting a new baby in June. We did not know if it would be a boy or a girl but I told myself right then and there, I want my son to grow up and be the boy that parents want their daughter to date because they know he will respect and care for her.
We stopped each other throughout the conference to talk and see how things were going. After the summit, we immediately became Facebook friends and started to talk on an almost daily basis, as with many of the dads I had met. At some point through the next year, we had agreed that we would be roommates at the Dad 2.0 Summit in San Diego.
The closer our trip to San Diego came, I could tell that something wasn’t right. He started to become more worried if he would even be able to make it. His wife wasn’t doing so well.
Doctors had discovered not one but two brain tumors, and after surgery, they found out that it was a very aggressive form of brain cancer, Stage IV Glioblastoma Multiforme. At this time there is no cure only treatment.
Rooming with me, let alone attending the Dad 2.0 Summit was an afterthought.
Rob and I have kept in touch through the year. He talks about the struggles that he has been going through and that he is taking it day-by-day. He is somehow keeping it very positive and saying that his wife, Angela, will win this fight.
How someone can keep such a positive outlook in Rob’s situation is beyond me. Each day that I see a post on Facebook about how his wife is doing, my heart goes out to him. I want to do nothing but be there with him sitting in the hospital just so that he has someone to talk to.
He isn’t alone though, this community that I keep talking about has rallied behind him.
Much like we do every year with the Oren Miller Scholarship Fund, this community (starting with the men at Life of Dad) have started to raise money to help with medical bills that continue to pile up. Look through the list of people who have donated to the GoFundMe set up, and you’ll see several dad bloggers who have donated. Life of Dad have started selling T-shirts created by Rob’s daughter and wife where all of the profits go to help.
I don’t know if Oren Miller had an idea that this community would come together in a way that it has to support each other. But what I do know is that if it weren’t for Oren, I would have never met Rob. I wouldn’t have met many of these dads who I would go out of my way to help.
The quote in our community from Oren says, “A blogging dads group. So crazy it just might work”
I’d say it has worked.
If you feel the need to support Rob and his family, a GoFundMe has been set up, and the Life of Dad men have set up t-shirts created by Rob’s daughter and wife as a tribute to how incredible this man is.
Donate to Advocating for Angela Ainbinder GoFundMe.
Life Of Dad T-Shirt Information