You know what kind of friendships you can forge in less than 48 hours?
The kind that will last a lifetime.
This weekend I had the opportunity to join over 300 other people at the Helping Hands Foundation‘s winter outing in Massachusetts. The HHF is an organization that connects families of children with upper limb-loss. In a word, the experience was life-changing. And to think I almost didn’t go! In fact, until about two weeks ago I wasn’t going. So glad I changed my mind.
Friday started with a bang, too. The plan was for me to wake-up at 4:45am, get ready and leave the house at 5:30am to catch the 6:10am bus to Milwaukee. I shot out of bed at 5:43am. It was like a PG-13 version of Home Alone. A hard PG-13. I was determined to still make the bus and really thought I would, but ended-up getting there just in time to see the bus pull away. It helped me answer the question, “Would you rather watch your team get blown out or lose on a last-second field goal?” Blown out. No question.
The drive to Milwaukee was fine and I arrived early enough to have breakfast and meet-up with my flying partner, Tony Memmel. We said goodbye to his mom, Katie, and headed to our gate, excited to fly.
The flight itself seemed short – just a couple of hours – and we arrived with little fanfare. Grabbed our bags, hopped a bus, and then we were driven to the hotel by Annie and Jane, two fantastic young women who happen to be the daughters of the HHF’s president, Patti Garofalo. At one point I realized Jane was the only one in the van not missing a hand. Poor Jane.
We arrived at the hotel around 2:30pm and the fun began! Well, first I took a shower, since I didn’t get one earlier due to the running-out-of-the-house-in-a-panic situation. But then the fun began! It was a blast to meet people who I’d already interacted with online. For one, there was Hayden. I saw this picture of Hayden on Thursday:
And then the very next day I got to meet him!
The stream of people arriving just kept flowing. And they all seemed awesome! Tony played his guitar and old friends reconnected and I loved watching the kids interact. I didn’t really have any expectations, which I think was good in retrospect. It enable me to just watch it all unfold around me.
I also got to meet Nick Newell for the first time, which was awesome:
Nick is such a great guy. Confident, determined, hilarious, attractive…the dude’s got it all. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Justin Timberlake, but he’s solid. And he’s got one of the coolest moms ever. Though, if she and I were in class and we were sitting next to each other, we’d be split-up for sure. Just saying.
The day was long, but so good. A fantastic start to the weekend. The first hours of forty-eight that changed my life.
Can’t wait to tell you about Saturday.