Monday, July 25, 2011

The 2012 Nationwide Summit

Settling back into home after a whirlwind four day adventure to Orlando, Florida.

John Paul was an incredible little Relayer this weekend.  Fabulous on the flights, chill during general sessions + breakouts, and loved all the peeps he was able to meet.  He had an incredible number of aunties (and even a few uncles!) who held him, bounced him, and rocked him throughout the weekend.  We were both in heaven.

Thomas stayed with Mom and Dad for a few days, and then came home to Jonathan on the weekend.   I had a few sweet things to come home to:
  • ME  |  Thomas, did you miss Mommy and Baby John Paul?
    THOMAS  |   I had a good time with BearBearMom and Papa.
  • Jonathan finished a bunch of projects on the house -- finishing up my bathroom vanity, fixing the washer, finding an amazing weed whacker to take on our blackberry bushes, keeping the house clean, and giving The Wee Ski 1.0 a great boys' weekend.  I loved logging into Facebook to see them checked in at the Amtrak station, where Thomas could watch trains FOR HOURS.
Anyway, back to Summit.

In a nutshell: the Nationwide Summit brings together 500 Relayers from around the world (9 countries, including the U.S.!) to convey the vision for the upcoming year and to motivate everyone before we head back home.  Some incredible speakers, experiences, and moments throughout.

I was so grateful that the Great West Division made it possible for me to attend with John Paul.  You don't often hear newborn cries at a conference (also the reason why there were no changing tables in the bathrooms), and so it's definitely out of the ordinary.  But it was a gift, and I truly appreciate it.  I found it hilarious that a number of people only know John Paul as "The Wee Ski"...and that's how he was introduced to everyone!

We got a big jump start on the final prep for the Great West Summits this fall, and it was an awesome weekend. A LONG LONG to-do list prepped on the BlackBerry on the flight home. 

A few of my favorite moments:

John Paul and John David (J.D.) crashing out on the floor together at the very end.  Both Wee Skis love J.D. 

John Paul and his "virtual Auntie Angie".  I SO loved getting the chance to catch up with her, it had been three years since we were in the same place at the same time.  The last time, it was in St. Louis at a Fundraising Forum and I was pregnant with Thomas and she was about a year ahead of having her son.  Now, there are three boys between us.  I love that we have been able to keep up with one another, even as our paths cross much more frequently in the virtual world than the 'in real life' world!

Getting to see Judy, Brian and Nancy all at the same time.  Last time that happened?  Celebration on the Hill, 2006.   If you've followed Nancy's journey, you'll know she has worked for the American Cancer Society for years, heading up the National Corporate Team Program.  (She definitely had a hand in my being selected to be featured in the National Workplace Giving Campaign at Merrill Lynch back in 2006!)

A year ago, she was diagnosed with lymphoma and not only fought back successfully BUT RAN MARATHONS while doing so.  She looked radiant, even after a whirlwind few days at Summit.   She's an awesome photographer and an incredible inspiration to everyone around her.  SO loved catching up with her!

Auntie Carrie, who made it possible for John Paul (and subsequently, me) to be able to attend.  I remember a year ago, chatting into the wee hours of the night about life, family, and wishing that it wasn't so hard to have another Wee Ski...not knowing I was a few days pregnant at the time.  She surprised me with a sweet little care package from Fargo, ND -- with things I love -- a local cookbook for my fam, a Relay onesie for John Paul and shirt for me, and some cool little themed goodies from Fargo.

Linda, Heather, Mark and Michael
There's a good chance Auntie Linda was teaching John Paul how to flip someone off on the plane if they complained about his crying... :) I love her. She was so good to him. Linda and Heather are coordinating a number of videos, and I got the chance to be the "American" in a sweet video of International Relayers saying 'thank you' in their native languages. So there I was, with my Pacific Northwest non-accent, surrounded by Relayers from Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, the United Kingdom and South Africa.  One of these things is not like the other...  Mark just returned to the US following a worldwide global volunteering adventure chronicled over at Aspen to Nepal.  Michael is our 'multimedia geek' from the South, but with Great West now.  I could listen to his accent ALL DAY LONG.  He worked with the online Relay initiatives and he's hysterical.

My Nationwide Leadership Training Team gals, with Carrie.
Michelle from New Mexico, Angela (I brought the Connolly's Crew tee over for her, since we added her name as a survivor this year), and Mary, from Eastern Washington. 

Ron, bravely wrestling the gator.  A hilarious on-site fundraiser from the Mid West Division on Friday night.  Words just don't do this photo justice.

With Lisa, my co-facilitator from the Mid-South Division.  She and I trained together when I was just a few weeks along with John Paul, and I learned an INCREDIBLE amount of Southern goodness from her. She's also the one who put a hairpiece in my hair because "it just wasn't big enough to be southern hair without it'.  So good to see her again!

A super funny Relayer from the United Kingdom, dancing to the Silent Storm -- the silent disco set up by International.  SO INCREDIBLY FUNNY.  I hope that we can set this up next year at Relay!

Heidi and Kara from the High Plains Division.  John Paul was in heaven with these two.

Mimi, Lisa and Kelli.  I hadn't seen Mimi since she visited the Tacoma Relay for the 20th Anniversary.  It was so good to actually hug Kelli in person!

And the Great West crew before heading out to dinner on Saturday night.  You should have seen the looks that Jennifer got when she was carrying John Paul, as she is seven months pregnant right now.  It was awesome.

So good to go, but so good to be home.  And start checking things off my follow-up to-do list before our call on Thursday... :)

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