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Fundraising Challenge for SXSW and Special Needs Panel

By Jen Lee Reeves

The South by Southwest (SXSW) is known as a geek’s spring break. It’s also known as the event where Twitter launched along with other well known apps like Foursquare and Gowalla. I know it as an event I go to each year to learn from an incredible number of smart people who are a part of the technology and social media world across all kinds of industries. I had a big ‘aha’ moment earlier this year when I realized this community may have the smarts to help bring our special needs world more connected. This website is a believer in helping the many fractured special needs communities come together and connect. I’m curious what the technology world thinks it can do to help us all see how we have more in common. (#moreincommon)

That’s why I pitched a core conversation during the conversation called “Tech Unity Beyond the #SpecialNeeds Hashtag.” A core conversation is a chance for anyone who is interested in the topic to gather in a room and discuss ideas and see where we can take this idea beyond the conference. I’m really thrilled my proposal was accepted. The down side? Our proposal included three people: Myself, Kate Canterbury from The Guavalicious Life and author Robert Rummel-Hudson from Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords. The organizers of SXSW accepted our panel! We were incredibly thrilled. This is a chance to tap the minds of people who we may have never been able to tap before in our quest to find more in common.

But there’s one problem.

The organizers of SXSW say core conversations can only officially include two people. I proposed three. I want all three to be there as we brainstorm during the conference. That’s where I’m looking for help. I’m hoping the special needs community can pitch in and help our third person attend the session. Who knows what we can think of. Who knows what kind of great things can come from this conference. I do know I want all three of us there.

I started a chip in fund: and we’ve already raised more than $200 towards the $650 conference pass. It isn’t cheap and unfortunately, the conference doesn’t offer the purchase of day passes. It’s either go for the whole event or none at all. I’m hoping to raise enough money before the price goes up to $750 on November 11th.

A Fundraising Challenge!

That’s where Julia Roberts and Support for Special Needs come in…they are willing to help by pitching in half of the expense ($325)  if we can raise the other half before November 11th to purchase the early registration. I know we can do it!

Beyond this expense, I’m hoping to get you involved in the planning and conversation leading up to the March 2012 conference. I want our team to come armed with ideas and think outside the box on where technology may help bridge the gaps that have formed between so many special needs communities. Thanks for your consideration and thanks to Support for Special Needs for your belief in my efforts to help us see how we have more in common than not!


Reeves is passionate about social media and advocacy. In the journalism world, she manages KOMU-TV8’s online properties and teaches new media at the Missouri School of Journalism. She was a member of the inaugural class of the Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellowship in 2008-09. She helped found the SMC Mid-MO and is currently Vice President. Reeves speaks on the power of social media in business, journalism and the higher education world.

Reeves is also a self-described “mom advocate” and shares her stories and lessons at Born Just Right as a parent of a child who was born with a physical difference. She is married with two kids and two dogs. Reeves is a fan of technology, running and photography.

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