In my mind I’m still in Carolina. I can’t stop thinking about what a great time I had in Winston-Salem last week, and I still can’t believe how the whole event came about. Ready for this? Stick with me because it’s a great small world story — with random funny video at the end as the cherry on top.
As many of you know, I raced in the 2010 Texas Water Safari to help find a cure for Rett Syndrome, inspired by Ella Farnum (daughter of Bill Farnum, a very good friend to flyfishing and the F3T) as well as Rancey Luce (daughter of my dear Mobile AL friend Anna Luce.)
Well…last summer one of my best college friends, Meredith, read an advance copy of my book Paddlefish and also became inspired by Rett Syndrome. Especially since she realized she had a new neighbor, Nancy Grantham, whose daughter also has Rett.
Then we come to find out that Nancy Grantham in Winston and my friend Anna Luce in Mobile are age-old friends! They have been fighting together for a cure for Rett for two decades. When I was in Winston last week, Nancy pulled out these sweet pictures of their daughters Anna Stewart and Rancey from 1997:
This is all very wild since Rett is such a rare disease. Frankly, the odds of all these Rett connections are mind boggling. But I firmly believe there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason, and I witnessed firsthand from these girls that inspiration is contagious.
My friend Meredith was so overcome with the small-worldness of all of this that she decided to host a luncheon in Winston to help find a cure for Rett. She recruited Nancy Grantham as well as friends Anna Ball and Jen and next thing you know, this force of nature became a reality. After months of planning these women threw a fantabulous luncheon in Winston last week for 95 women — plus Nancy’s husband, Pat. And they graciously asked me to come speak and read from Paddlefish.
How good looking are these tables? The centerpieces pre-sold in two hours days before the luncheon. All for Rett.
I had such a ball. I cannot begin to break it all down, but sufficeth to say, it was a fun, hilarious, inspirational, dynamic trip to my old stomping grounds in Carolina.
The women I met were so welcoming and gobbled up every last copy of my book that I had on-hand.
And as if being there wasn’t gift enough, the beautiful brain trust who choreographed this magical afternoon blessed me with this hand painted paddle by a local artist named Sam “the dot man” McMillan who even has art displayed in the Smithsonian.
I will treasure this paddle as much as the one I raced with in the Safari!
In addition to spending time with the wonderful women who planned the luncheon, I met some of Meredith’s fabulous friends who celebrated with us well into the wee hours. Much love to my new friends Jill and Rosie (and so many others!)
And of course, I had the opportunity to spend precious time with some of my best friends in the whole world, my college roommates from Carolina. I know it’s hard to believe from the shiny proper veneer you see here, but the three of us used to be hell on wheels when we roomed together in Chapel Hill, which they should have renamed Strawberry Hill in our honor after freshman year. (If you get it, you get it, if not…)
But that was 23 some odd years ago and now we are all grown-up prim and proper mom sorts. Just well behaved ladies who lunch, that’s us.
That is until the post-luncheon wine-soaked after-party rolled on well into the late hours of the evening and devolved into a rousing rendition of “I Will Survive”.
Video evidence reveals that we were pitchy, rusty on the moves, and we mumbled most of the lyrics, but in our minds, in that very moment…we put the GLORY in GLORIA GAYNOR.
Besides, my book and my speeches are all about “perseverance” so I WILL SURVIVE seems an appropriate late night battle cry – for some aging sorority girls blowing off steam from the grind of daily life and most certainly for the families with Rett who are fighting the good fight each and every day.
Catch this humiliating video while you can because as soon as my friends see it they will likely force me take it down. To go ahead and answer your questions: yes there is a mystery hairbrush being passed around as a mic, yes people are trying to leave but we are shamelessly blocking the exit, and yes we are out of breath because we’ve already been singing a good bit of ABBA before this impromptu performance.
THANK YOU: NANCY & PAT, ANNA BALL, JEN, MEREDITH & BUDDY, AMELIA, CAROLINE, BETSY and everyone in Winston who celebrated with us last week. Until next time, much love…XXOO
(Now since many of you are reading this without the painful “I WILL SURVIVE” video that I have no doubt already been asked to remove, you can enjoy this little nugget instead…)