This past weekend I had the honor to co-present at a Craig Hospital board member retreat in Vail, CO at the beautiful Sonnenalp Hotel!!
How did I get asked to do such a cool event? In all actuality this day was 11 years in the making when I broke a vertebrae in my neck and entered the world of spinal cord injury recovery.
Not going to bore you will 11 years of recovery trials and tribulations so let's just rewind about 6 weeks or so...
...I had just come home from a successful weekend of racing in Chattanooga, TN. where I brought home 2 more national titles as a T1 Paracyclist. Why is this relevant, well, that post spinal cord injury success allows for certain doors to open that might not otherwise open.
After being asked if such a speaking event would interest me, we started the process of getting everything ready to present our stories of how sports has transformed our lives on and off the proverbial court, if you will, family (nuclear and Craig), when that seed of sport post-injury was planted and the success that has followed in our prospective sports.
Short intro videos were needed to be produced from pictures, You Tube videos, and whatever else we could find that had our mugs on it. What’s cool about having 2 people speak at different ends of the sports spectrum is that both of us can highlight what it takes to be competitive at a high level of sports versus what it takes to get to that high level of sports from a female and male prospective. Between the two of us we covered gender, para and quad, bipedal and non, Paralympic medalist and National Champ, 4 different sports (Para-Cycling, wheelchair basketball, downhill skiing, para-canoe) and our universal love for sports from an early age. And a few various other topics to round it out.
It was the recipe for a 1-2-3 punch at this particular speaking engagement!!
Something that I’ve learned from doing a few different speaking presentations is that no matter what you think you may know about your audience going into it will change at a moments notice. Also that no matter how in check your emotions may be, they’ll pop up and ambush you when you’re not ready. Make that about 4 times between the 2 of us…stupid emotions making us all human!
The audience was the Craig Hospital board members and the Craig Hospital Foundation board members along with some spouses and other assorted family. My only worry was to not showcase my ability to swear with style and grace. Not in the least worried that I'd be nervous or forget something important. Just in dropping the F-Bomb at the wrong moment...I was so wrong on the swearing bit. LOL! Well let’s just say it happened and on a few occasions over the course of the 2 days but no one really cared. BONUS!!!
Friday night was a dinner and mingle event at Up The Creek in Vail and WOW dinner was off the hook delicious! A little salad, Alaskan Halibut, and brownie a la mode. And yes I ate it all and it felt good!! Mingling was awesome!! In the back of my mind I thought it was going to be almost too business like and not a lot of fun and had planned on calling it an early evening before I even got there. Haha…big mistake! Remember that thing about changing at a moment’s notice…it applied here. Questions and conversations ranging from childhood, to family, stupid shit done on a motorcycle (my favorite), religion, obesity, processed food versus organic food for athletes with or without SCIs and anything else that anyone wanted to ask. I didn’t leave early and by the time I got back to the hotel, after taking a humorous pedi-cab ride back, I laid down around 11:30pm. Completely wiped out from having fun!
Our presentation time was at 9:30am and slotted to last about 90 minutes. A small team meeting before to get everything straight and off to Bavaria Room we went!!
Tick, tick, tick...90 minutes later.
It’s difficult to sum up or even give bullet points on the presentation because it was such an intimate, organically flowing, let it ride, and see what happens kind of presentation. Life can surprise us with some truly beautiful moments when you just jump in and let it work for you!! Honestly the most awesome co-presented presentation I have ever done….High-fives and hugs were the order of business and business was good!!
On a personal note I finally had the opportunity to do something that I have been waiting 11 years for. And that was to thank those responsible for paying for a power chair for me to go home with because my insurance at the time wouldn’t pay for the proper equipment needed. Shocker right? Insurance not paying…unheard of! Well that marked my 3rd emotional ambush in 90 minutes!! FN emotions! When you’ve waited that long to say thank you, tears are bound to happen when, as a collective decision, so many people had such an impact on my life and believed that once I walked I had to give the chair back so someone else could use it. Paying it forward is an awesome feeling!!
This short post does no justice to the magnitude of this wonderful event or to the gratitude for being asked to speak at such an event. Humbled would just about sum it up in one word.
It goes without saying that I need to thank a few people: Tom, Brian, Alana, all the Craig Hospital and Foundation board members, Mike, Veronica, and anyone else that made this experience possible. Stoked to have done this and that my Craig Hospital Family has grown by about 40 people!!