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February 23, 2019

5:02-8:00 pm

Columbus, Ohio


We're thrilled to announce that a second O₂ Conference will be held on February 23rd, 2019!

Save the date and plan to attend or apply with your idea. The application process will open on October 1, 2018. Want to learn more? Attend our Interest Meeting on Sunday, Sept. 30. Time and location TBA.

The 2018 O₂ Conference launched 8 inspiring ideas pairing them with incredible mentors and $9,000! 

For the latest news, please subscribe to the O₂ mailing list.

You may contact the O₂ Team directly at info@o2conference.org.

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What is O2?

  • A way to get organized around the organic and together launch ideas that can breathe life into the real needs of our community.
  • It’s an inspirational Saturday evening event where 12-18 year olds present ideas that meet the needs of the Columbus community. People of all ages buy tickets to attend the event and hear from the presenters. They receive dinner and a portion of their ticket goes to fund ideas.

  • It’s a chance to hear from top-notch speakers and community leaders. It’s a way to receive feedback, mentoring and even funding for moving ideas into action. Nearly $10,000 will be awarded to the presenters in just a few short hours!

  • If Kickstarter, Ted Talks, and Shark Tank had a baby that grew up in Columbus it would look like this event.




verb | \ ˈthrīv \

To grow and develop. To flourish and be successful.
To progress toward a goal despite or because of the circumstances.


Project Innovation

Ilya, Madelyn, Teresa Rakowsky
with Charley Shin


The Underrated power of teenagers

Khadijo Abdirahman with
Madison Mikhail Bush



MaryGrace Osborn with David White


Take Off

Katie Overmyer, Claire Geistfeld, Maria Buffer with Stori Rex



Greta Schreiber and Gabrielle Shell
with John Ness



Wharton pain scale

Kota Wharton with Don Leach



Fitness group for women immigrants

Deika Ahmed and Sarah Khoury with Lisa Igel  Audience Award Winner!


Senior Prom

Elizabeth Weller with Taylor McClintock
Audience Award Winner!


2018 Mentors & speakers


Keynote Speaker

Ryan Miller
President & Co-Founder, The 2nd & 7 Foundation
Partner, m2 marketing
Former Linebacker & Defensive co-MVP
OSU Football Team

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Guest Speaker

Jane Leach
Executive Director, FutureReady Columbus
Founder of the Hilltop Preschool

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Charley Shin
Founder and CEO of BIBIBOP
Asian Grill
, Charleys Philly Steaks, and Solar Planet

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Madison Mikhail Bush
Founder and CEO of POINT and Director of Corporate Development at Gnome Diagnostics



John Ness
Chief Executive Officer,
ODW Logistics, Inc.

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Stori Rex
Volunteer Coordinator,
LifeCare Alliance

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Lisa Igel
Wellness Program Manager
Huntington National Bank

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Don Leach
Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP

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Taylor McClintock
President and Creative Director
G&P Productions, LLC

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O₂ Conference Director

David A. White IV
Pastor, Families, Youth & Children 
Upper Arlington Lutheran Church


How It Works




Prior to the event, ideas from each age group will be selected to present at the conference. The three age groups are:

  • Middle School (6-8th Grade),
  • High School (9-12th Grade), and
  • Young Adult (Ages 19-25).

Individuals or teams of 2-3 people can fill out the online application here. For more details on the commitment and expectations, download this information packet.

A new application deadline will be shared for the 2019 event.


The conference begins with an exciting keynote speaker sharing their story and this year’s theme. The presenters then share their ideas. The excitement builds as each group interacts with our tremendous O2 Panel of Mentors in front of hundreds of engaged listeners.

When dinner and the presentations are complete, the Panel will take time to deliberate. Each of the seven panelists has $1,000 to allocate. This money may be given to one finalist, or $500 may be given to two separate finalists. Finally, the panelists will then choose one of the finalists to serve as a mentor to their winning idea. The exciting conclusion to the evening includes an Audience Award alongside the mentoring and financial awards. The hope is that everyone in attendance walks away feeling like they’ve experienced a breath of fresh air. There are a limited number of tickets for this event and it is expected to sell out.


After the conference, the finalists and their mentor will work together for a minimum of six months developing their idea. This is one of the exciting elements that sets this event apart.



The O2 Conference is an event where the audience participates! Come support young people and vote for which ideas will receive mentors and funding. Share your thoughts on what you believe are the needs of our community. The hope is that everyone in attendance walks away feeling like they’ve experienced a breath of fresh air. There are a limited number of tickets for this event and it is expected to sell out. Money from ticket purchases covers your admission, dinner, and even contributes to funding these great ideas!


Financial support is always welcome. Together we can turn incredible ideas into reality across our city! If you're interested in donating to the O2 Conference, you can give by using the form below.




Sometimes meeting a need doesn’t need a giant plan but instead a little thought and some real action. When a need hits you in the face, what do you do? Brush it off and move on? What if it won’t go away and keeps popping into your life? One night, Mae noticed a homeless person on the streets...

 Mae with her Godsend Bags for the homeless.

Mae with her Godsend Bags for the homeless.

Last winter my mom and I were driving home from Polaris Shopping Center, the air was frigid as we pulled into an intersection and saw a homeless man holding a cardboard sign saying, “I need help.” He didn’t look like the stereotypical “homeless type”. He had on nice clothes; he looked as if he could be one of my friends’ dads, which made him seem out of place holding the sign. It made me think that it must’ve taken guts for him to stand in the cold and ask for help… to lower himself to beg for help.

We didn’t have anything to give him and couldn’t stop on the busy road anyway so we kept driving. As we got further and further away, I started questioning my mom. “Where will he sleep tonight? How will he get food? Does he have a family?” I couldn’t help but feel guilt nagging at me. As we talked we got an idea. We pulled in at a Wendy’s and bought a $5 gift card. It was just enough for him to go inside and get something warm.

We made it back to the intersection just in time to catch him as he was walking away. A policeman had just told him to move along. I reached out the window and handed him the gift card and he looked directly into my eyes and said, “God bless you.”

I’m a teenager, I have limited abilities and resources, and I can’t easily change the world.  But I can share compassion with one person. And then one more.
— Mae

I don’t know why this struck me. I had never met this man before; didn’t know anything about him -  but still I felt a connection. I knew I had done the right thing.

This experience gave me the momentum to make Godsend bags - drawstring bags filled with items to bring encouragement and connection while meeting spiritual and material needs. People take Godsend bags with them and put them in their car. When they see a homeless person, they’ve got a ready-made gift to hand out the car window. I'm a teenager, I have limited abilities and resources, and I can’t easily change the world. But I can share compassion with one person. And then one more. I have been hoping that the people making these bags will experience the joy of serving our community. That the people handing out the bags will overcome the prejudices we have towards homeless people and those who are different from us. Finally, I hope that the homeless people receiving the bags will be encouraged and see that there are people that love and care about them.




Middle School Application
(6th - 8th grade)


High School Application
(9th - 12th grade)



Use the form below to contact us with any thoughts or questions you may have.

The application for the 2019 Conference isn't quite open yet. We'd still love to hear from you.

Name *


Hosted by:

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church
Mill Run Campus
3500 Mill Run Drive
Columbus, OH, 43026



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Why does ualc host the O₂ conference?

UALC is transparently passionate about being and making followers of Jesus Christ. Living out our faith goes hand in hand with serving others in the name of Jesus. At the end of the day we take his message seriously. So, the O₂ Conference is an authentic expression of our faith, responding to the real needs of our community.

Investing in young people and their families is also a significant part of our history. No matter their age, we see them as capable difference-makers. We warmly welcome people from all backgrounds and walks of life to engage in this effort to love our city. We won't ask you to be someone you're not. We are inspired by God's great love for people and this world so we won't be shy about caring for you.

The O₂ Conference is held at UALC’s Mill Run Campus at 3500 Mill Run Drive in Hilliard. The funding for the event and the financial awards are provided by UALC.

 Thanks to the hard-working O2 Conference Team which includes Heather Peebles Buffer, Mae Bruns, Stori Rex, Star Bradley, Howard Greene and David White IV.

Thanks to the hard-working O2 Conference Team which includes Heather Peebles Buffer, Mae Bruns, Stori Rex, Star Bradley, Howard Greene and David White IV.