So I have something pretty cool to tell you about. And by "pretty cool", what I really mean is "awesomely fantastic". I won something. And it was something that was SO perfect for me on so many levels. And in telling you why it was so perfect for me, I'm going to take the opportunity to let you get to know me just a little bit better, and maybe a little bit more in depth than I usually go. And it's going to take more than one post, and you may or may not be bored. But it's really something I want to write about, as I've reflected this weekend on my pretty cool experience. I'd love you to stay and hear my story. If you want.
Late Friday night I won tickets to a special performance of Stars On Ice. Tickets that I have been coveting for weeks and weeks, ever since I found out the event was taking place. Tickets that just weren't in our budget this month. It was a celebration for the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games hosted by Salt Lake City. I can't wait to tell you about my night, but first I'd like to share some things with you, so you'll understand why this night meant so much to me.
The first (and probably most emotional) reason this was perfect for me, is because as many of you know, I have a little bit of an obsession with competitive sports in general, but particularly the Olympics. My love affair with the Olympics started here in 2002 when we hosted the world in what came to be known as the greatest Winter Games in history. I had watched different Olympic events in the past, but being part of it, in my community, brought a whole new appreciation and love for the games that I hadn't had before.
I remember vividly, exactly where I was the moment they announced that Salt Lake City had been selected to host the games. I was at my job at an airplane manufacturing company (now known as Boeing), and work came to a stand-still as the news conference started, and the bosses broadcast it over the intercom system. We were all gathered together in a huddle underneath the speaker that was in the ceiling above us. There was silence across the whole plant as we listened to the announcement. Now I had been one of those people who initially was sort of grumpy about the thought of a whole bunch of people descending upon my little neck of the country and all that they would bring to disrupt our quiet little community. But as the time for "the choosing" got closer and I heard chatter about our chances of being named, I started to have this little pocket of pride fill up inside me, that we were being considered to host something so huge, so global, and so important. And I'm not gonna lie, I held my breath, with butterflies in my stomach, as the announcer gave his little speech. And I recognized my own voice along with all my co-workers' cheering as we jumped up and down in celebration when our city was announced. I still get giddy remembering that moment.
After this, things went into overdrive, and as we began as a state to prepare to welcome the world to our little piece of heaven, it was hard not to think about everything good or bad that something of this magnitude meant for us as a community. Signs of what was coming were at every corner. Our roadways underwent massive construction projects, and orange cones stretched in every direction as far as the eye could see. We installed a light-rail system that would change public transportation in Utah forever. Some of the most amazing sporting venues to date were erected both in the valley and in the mountains. Venues that my own children have been privileged to enjoy on various occasions, so many years later. There was a continual buzz of both excitement and a little bit of trepidation as well. But we were proud to be preparing to welcome the world to our wonderful state.
Then, a mere 5 months before the games were to be held, tragedy struck our nation. Horror and shock swept our country when thousands of lives were lost in the worst terrorist attack ever to take place on American soil. Suddenly all of our preparations weren't enough. Everything had to be re-evaluated. We (Americans) were vulnerable, we were scared. We were angry. We were in mourning.
I believe there was even talk (however small) about cancelling the games. Something that the CFO of the SLC games said on Saturday night at the show struck me with so much power. He told of how we heard so many times, "The world needs this Olympics right now". Then he said, "Utah gave us the Olympics that the world needed so badly."
As I saw clips from our games play on the big screen Saturday night, I was overcome with emotion at all the memories of one of the best times of my life. I can't wait to share more with you. But as this post has already grown exceedingly long, I'll save that for tomorrow!