Last week was wild, and I’m just now recovering. First learning point: I can’t run around the the country like I used to! My journey began in St. Louis at the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values conference, where I was asked to give our new Greeks Fight Back program to fraternity and sorority leaders. It was late on the first day of their arrival, so everyone was a little tired. But it’s amazing how much people perk up when you start throwin’ eye jabs.
While I was at AFLV, I saw some awesome people and good friends. I was especially excited to spend some quality time with my friend and creator of Response Ability, Mike Dilbeck. Response Ability is an exciting new program that addresses bystander behavior of college students. I think his message is incredibly important because it affects most problems facing our campus communities today from drinking to violence to eating disorders. It’s so easy to say “It’s none of my business” and not get involved…Mike challenges that and I really admire the film he produced, and the movement he started as a result of it.
I left St. Louey and flapped my wings to Boston for a big conference I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. It was the annual convention of the National Association of Campus Activities, and this year I was selected for the lecture showcase. Now I’m not sure how many hundreds or thousands of speakers apply for the 14 coveted slots. All I can tell you is that when I got the news last Fall that I’d been chosen, I was driving and had to pull over on the side of the highway because I was doing the happy-shreik-cry-scream-hyperventilate thing…and it just wasn’t safe for me to be operating a vehicle at that time. So needless to say, this was a big deal and a huge honor. *bow*
NACA is the most glorious little fun-land, time-warp, freak-show circus with some of the most interesting and inspiring people. Case in point, the Lectures Showcase I was part of on Monday morning. Here was the line-up, each of us having 15 minutes to present our program’s most interesting highlights. (Which by the way, is the absolute hardest thing for a speaker to do…especially those of us accustomed to having 90 minutes to yap our trap!) First up was Teri Nicolai, a victim of domestic violence whose ex-husband kidnapped her, sealed her inside a garbage can partially packed with snow and left her in an unheated storage unit. Her miraculous story of survival and strength was so inspiring. Next was Dan Clark, who you may better recognize as “Nitro” from American Gladiators. One of my childhood heroes, me and Nitro became buddies and I’m hoping one day to jaust him. (He was undefeated on the show in this event.) I spoke after Nitro – and what a rush! Over a thousand people in attendance, and so little time – a no-fail formula for sweaty pits. After me, Blake Mycoskie spoke. He’s the founder of Tom’s Shoes and in my opinion, one of the greatest social entrepreneurs of all time! For each pair of Tom’s Shoes you buy, the company donates a pair to a child in need. Genius. After Blake, my dear friends Shawn Decker and Gwenn Barringer took the mic, speaking about their marriage (and sex life) with Shawn being HIV positive (or as he calls it, being a “positoid”) and Gwenn being HIV negative. If you want to read one of the greatest books ever, check out My Pet Virus – written by Shawn. Memoirs about growing up with HIV are not normally described as “hilarious,” this one is. Read it and get ready to pee your pants.
Anyway, there were more speakers but I’ll stop there. You see what I mean – just awesome, inspiring people with messages that can really make this world a better place. It was an honor to be part of it. I was in Boston for about 5 days total, having a blast and working the Girls Fight Back booth along with GFB speaker, Megan. The final night, Megan and I took a picture with another childhood hero of mine, Dennis Haskins – better known as Mr. Belding from “Saved by the Bell.” Way to end this conference on a high note…thumbs up all around!