Phewee. I’m only just now drawing breath after the whirlwind that was my speaking tour of the US and Canada, so I’m taking a break from this series of motivational blogs to say some well-deserved thank yous.
You might recall that a few months ago I put out the word on this blog that I wanted to travel around North America, with the dual purpose of getting my environmental message out there and raising funds for the Indian Ocean row. A dozen brave souls stepped up to the plate, and many, many emails later (largely coordinated by my long-suffering mother) we had ourselves a tour.
I’m not sure any of us knew quite what we were getting ourselves into. I had never organised a tour before, and neither had anybody else. It was the blind leading the blind in many ways, but as with ocean rowing, it can be good NOT to know at the outset just how challenging it is going to be, or else we’d think of a hundred reasons not to do it.
Miraculously, with an enormous amount of hard work, the tour came together, and resulted in a 12-city, 30-event extravaganza lasting just over 5 weeks. I spoke in front of over 4,000 people (not including unknown numbers on webcasts). I travelled nearly 20,000 miles and slept in 27 different beds. And we raised a total of nearly $30,000 towards the $50,000 I need for the Indian Ocean.
I don’t know how I will ever repay the incredible kindness, energy, and dedication to the cause demonstrated by my incredible team of event organisers. They have built up some seriously good karma points, and I hope to repay their faith in me by succeeding in next year’s mission to row across the Indian Ocean.
I’d like to share a few photos – and memories – of the tour, so you can join with me to bask in the afterglow.
When other fundraising efforts fell on stony ground, Joan donned a dress to raise the funds to make it worth my while to come to Atlanta. Apparently the first time she had worn a dress in about 20 years. Talk about getting outside your comfort zone!
Joan, I appreciate your sacrifice.
One of the nicest things about the tour was the chance to connect with friends old and new – I met Rozta’ Bill for the first time in Atlanta, and in Asheville a blast from the past – Kappy Griffith, who I rowed with in the Oxford University Women’s Boat Club squad, half a lifetime ago.
Rochelle first started following my blog to give her inspiration through her marathon training. Then she continued following it after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, as she took her chemotherapy and surgery “one oarstroke at a time”. Now cancer-free, she drove from Austin to Dallas (about 3.5 hours) to meet me. Her attitude to her illness has always been that it is a gift, sent to bring good things to her life that wouldn’t otherwise have transpired.
A film about her experience is in production – called “Cancerpants” to reflect her refusal to be a victim. I can’t wait to see it.
All smiles now, but it was the longest 30 mins of my life when my precious MacBook was accidentally misappropriated by another passenger at airport security in Dallas. Fortunately the perpetrator was a big fan of the TED Talks, and recognised my desktop photo (my arrival in Hawaii in 2008) as soon as he opened my laptop. He then found my phone number in my Addressbook application and called me. I didn’t know whether to thank him, or kill him!
The danger of listing thank yous is that I will miss somebody out. No doubt I have – and if so, please forgive me. In more or less chronological order, I would like to express my heartfelt and eternal gratitude to:
Angela Hey in Portola Valley
Anna Cummins and her parents in Santa Monica
Jim Salzman and Cindy Van Dover at Duke University
Laurey Masterton in Asheville
Bill Burgess in Greenville
Joan Sherwood and Cindy Abel in Atlanta
Sam Jones and Kathryn Andree in Dallas
Mary Kadzielski, Shaw Thacher and Doug DeMark in Washington DC
Jay Gosuico, Doug Grandt, Reuben Hechanova, Aenor Sawyer, Jamis MacNiven, Betsy Rosenberg and Zenia Laporte at Unique in San Francisco, Sacramento and the Bay Area
Susan Bartlett and Roger Friesen in Vancouver
Timothy Ray and Robert Kibble in San Diego
Kevin Doheny in Minneapolis
Buffy Redsecker, Margaret Lydecker, Jon Stryker and Slobodan Randjelovic in New York
Plus the innumerable others who toiled behind the scenes to make this happen – including, of course, aforesaid Long Suffering Mother!
And, finally, a huge thank you to each and every person who came to my presentations – for the love, the energy, and of course the financial contributions. I hope you came away energised and inspired, and will go forth as footsoldiers into the world to spread those ripples of positive change.
And here endeth the Oscars speech!