Adventurer and Subject of Movie 127 Days to Give Keynote at 2023 Rural Summit
September 20, 2023
Abingdon, VA (September 14, 2023) – Aron Ralston, adventurer, survivor, and writer will lead the opening Keynote, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Turning Adversity to Advantage” at the 2023 Rural Summit in Abingdon, Virginia.
Aron Ralston's extraordinary story of survival after an 800-pound boulder trapped him in a remote Utah canyon captured global headlines in 2003. In his New York Times best-seller, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the Oscar-nominated film, 127 Hours, and on stage, Ralston takes audiences vicariously through those six days without water, means of communication, or hope of escape, to the ecstatic moments when he freed himself by severing his own arm.
Following a miraculous rescue spearheaded by his mom and with the aid of prosthetics he helped design, Aron returned to his outdoor passions, completing elite mountaineering projects that remain unrepeated even to this day. Aron's incredible triumph in the face of insurmountable odds inspires audiences to harness the power of their deepest motivations, relationships, and mindset to transform personal and professional "boulders" into their blessings.
Attendees of the 2023 Rural Summit will hear from The Honorable Bryan Slater, Secretary of Labor; Jenna Conway, Deputy Superintendent of the Virginia Department of Education; Dr. Melanie Zaber, an economist at the RAND Corporation; Dr. Patrick Jinks, President of the Leader’s Perspective; and Brad Montgomery, Magician, Comedian, Business Owner, to name a few. Attendees are also invited to network with presenters, sponsors, and other attendees at the evening reception on October 26. Open to the public as an additional ticket option, guests will enjoy mingling and heavy hors devours at the new Bristol Hotel.
The event typically attracts 300-500 attendees from across Virginia and neighboring states. Leaders and practitioners from nonprofit organizations, K-12 and early childcare systems, government, healthcare professions, and the business sector, to name a few, attend to explore the issues many rural communities face. Through keynote presentations and interactive workshops, attendees leave inspired and ready to develop solutions that can be implemented at the local level.
“The Rural Summit is one of the only events in Southwest Virginia where you’ll find legislators sitting next to educators, business owners, and nonprofit professionals,” explained Travis Staton, CEO and President of United Way of Southwest Virginia. “We organize this event every year because we want our communities to succeed, and to do that we need the right mix of expertise, commitment, and resources at the table. The Rural Summit breaks down barriers to collaboration and brings everyone to the table.”
The 2023 Rural Summit is sponsored by the Virginia State Office of Rural Health, Verizon Wireless, Virginia Business, Hitachi, Mount Rogers Regional Partnership, Scott County Government, Mountain Empire Community College, New River Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, Virginia Highlands Community College, and Wytheville Community College. Sponsorships are still available!
2023 RURAL SUMMIT
Oct. 26 and 27, 2023
Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center
1 Partnership Circle, Abingdon, Virginia 24210
Early bird tickets are $95 for both days and go up to $115 on October 1.
Reception tickets are available for $35 and can be purchased as a stand-alone option.
Deadline for corporate sponsorships is September 25, 2023.
Virginia State Office of Rural Health, Verizon Foundation, Virginia Business, Hitachi Energy, Mount Rogers Regional Partnership, Scott County Virginia, Southwest Virginia Community College, New River Valley Community College, Virginia Highlands College, Wytheville Community College, Mountain Empire Community College.
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United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life. Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers nearly 20% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, Norton, and Radford.