Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A sweet start in Phoenix...

It's always a good sign when you walk off the plane to see two beautiful Relayers with big smiles, holding a sign with your name...and a package of homemade Relay the Summit's theme!

(Disclaimer - these were way prettier before I climbed on top of a chair in slippery tile to take a photo of the perfect cupcakes, only to lose the chair underneath me, fall, and my camera lens falls into the cupcakes.  That wasn't a bright spot.  There's a good chance that I may have licked the frosting off so as to savor every bite AND clean the lens.  Or something like that.  The fall didn't take away from the tasty goodness.  That was still there.)

Joining me from the Nationwide Leadership Training Team was Adam "Short Shorts" Schwartz and Ben Huggins...loved seeing them in action as Adam's the co-chair of the International Relay For Life Advisory Team and Ben's the co-chair of the National Relay For Life Advisory Team.  The Relayers at the Summit were truly lucky ducks to get to have them present.  Clearly, this was very exciting as my poker face shows.  :)

We were incredibly lucky to also have the world's best logistics team from the Phoenix council.  Amy (also the cupcake baker) and her daughter Ashley led the charge...and the guys are even showing off how they "support" Amy and her Relay For Life pedicure (with tiny logos!).  But seriously, they were so helpful -- every time you turned around, they were there, solving your problems and helping the Summit of nearly 400 people run exceptionally smoothly. 

I fell in love with Gwen Traylor -- the survivor hugging the 11th grade survivor who is speaking.  Gwen spoke during the Survivor piece at lunch, with the most inspirational sharing I've ever heard.  AND she wrote a song for the survivors AND sang it.  She called up the cancer survivors in the crowd (100+) and they all sang and swayed with her.  We were all in tears.  She is the incoming chair of the brand-new Maricopa Relay...and I can't wait to see what's ahead.  SO AWESOME.

Later in the day, Tommy (below) was sharing his story.  He was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd, and froze.  As the crowd cheered him on, Gwen yelled "he needs a hug!".  She ran up to the stage and hugged him from behind FOR THE REST OF HIS TALK.  Every time he slowed or stumbled, she squeezed him tighter and said "Go Tommy!"  She clapped from behind and kept him going.  A sweet angel to him.

Love me some Gwen hugs...  :)

And my favorite photo of Linda Kohls -- as we were prepping for the training.  She's so much fun to work with, and is such an asset to the Society.

The training itself was a hit -- so much fun to see everything come together after months of prep and design. They had an awesome turnout and it was fun meeting Arizona Relay transplants who were originally from Elma, WA.  The final general session was nearly 25 minutes longer than scheduled, and everyone was fully engaged.  I've never seen that before, especially after a 10 hour day for everyone.  Seriously excited to see how everything goes with 17 remaining Summits for our Division.

This is my first year of not leading individual breakouts and MC'ing the general sessions instead...a big change, but a fun transition.  Something new to keep me on my toes.  :)  But after 6 General Session segments in 24 hours, I was ready to crash.

A few weeks ago, when we were in Phoenix and we were working late into the night and everyone was a little 'spicy', Mark took us on a mental break to watch some YouTube videos.  One was of a guy he met who saw a double rainbow on his hike.  He's a little "exuberant" at the sighting...and of course, his video went viral.  I think he had a little more than just a double rainbow. 

When you watch the video, realize that the first time that Mark showed it on the general sessions giant screen (for just our crew), the video didn't come through.  It was just the sound.  Which made it that much more hilarious late at night.

And of course, after the "double rainbow guy" became notorious, there was a 'Auto-tune the News remix' of his video.  Which we also watched and then the tune NEVER LEAVES YOUR HEAD.  So everyone keeps singing this song while we're getting kicked out for 'closing down the convention center' and it was the mantra whenever things were a little nutty with the nonstop schedule during the weekend. 

So back to this weekend...

After we were both exhausted and ready for dinner and some quiet downtime, Michelle Patrick and I walked outside at the end of Summit to this:


We both started yelling "DOUBLE RAINBOW" all crazy-like and ran for our cameras.  We broke out into a few verses of the song, and started texting everyone that had seen it with us.   Everyone thought we were kidding -- because seriously, what's the chance of rain in 100°+ weather, let alone a rainbow, let alone a double rainbow?!?

A perfect ending to an awesome training.  :)

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