It seems like I'm always explaining how busy and chaotic our lives are, and yet somehow that insanity was taken to a whole new level this past week.
Last Saturday night, I was honored to be invited to a charity event benefiting a foster care agency here in Central Florida. I was invited, with a guest, to attend Dance, Dream, and Inspire, which is kind of like a mini version of the television show "Dancing With The Stars." It's an annual event that showcases six local celebrities competing in a dance competition to raise money for a local charity. Of course, I took my mom as my date, and we had an amazing time. Our tickets were paid for and we just had to pick them up upon arrival, and we were able to enjoy an amazing night out, just the two of us.
Now, I'm sure you're wondering how I got invited to this event and got free tickets, right? Well, let me give some background information first...
So, as I've mentioned in the past, I can't talk about anything that happens at work, or pertaining to the Walt Disney Company, if it isn't public knowledge. Because of this, I've been bursting at the seams for probably about two months, wanting to talk about something that I couldn't post. As of last Saturday night, however, this information became public knowledge and I'm now able to talk about it.
Basically, Walt Disney World donates all of the change that Guests throw into the fountains and water rides each year. Every year, the change is given to a different cause, and this year the money was donated to the foster care system... The same foster care system that this charity event was benefiting. Cast Members were able to vote on where exactly this money would be donated within the foster care system. After I voted, I realized that there was also a call for any foster care stories that Cast Members had to share. It didn't say exactly what these stories would be used for, but of course I had to write something up to send in.
Fast forward to last week, and I suddenly receive an email from someone in corporate Disney who works with community outreach. This email was an invitation to this Dance, Dream, and Inspire event. The email explained that I was being invited because of the story that I had submitted so many weeks ago. Though Disney was sponsoring the event, it was being held at the Hard Rock Cafe on Universal property (which would be the first time I've ever stepped foot on Universal property). I couldn't believe that I was being invited to something by the company, and that I would get to sit at one of two Disney tables at this event. I was even going to be able to go to the VIP pre-party before the event opened to the public! It was so exciting!
My mom and I were thrilled that we were able to go that night. I was able to meet the woman who had emailed me the invitation (who also happened to be one of the dance contestants), and we ended up sitting next to a woman who worked in the part of Disney that had read the foster care stories that were submitted (though unfortunately I forget what her actual title was... whoops!). It was amazing to speak with her, and the other Cast Members and their guests, during this pre-party. My mom even got to briefly meet the head of the foster care organization... she was excited to start making some connections in hopes of moving forward with getting re-certified to foster now that we're settled down here. But I think that my mom's favorite part about the night was that I had my first drink. Don't get me wrong, I've tried a few different alcoholic beverages since turning twenty-one, but I hadn't found anything that I liked enough to have a whole cup of it. This night, however, my mom ordered me a Rum and Coke, and I drank the whole thing! How exhilarating!
Over the course of the evening, we heard a lot about foster children. The opening dance number for the evening showcased four foster children ranging in age from twelve to seventeen. A former foster child, who is now in college, spoke about her experiences. The man that my mom met spoke throughout the night as well.
At the end of the night, the big check (and I do mean big... in size and monetary value) was handed over to the head of the organization. Much to my excitement, the money went toward helping siblings who have been split up in the foster care system, so that they would be given the resources to be able to spend more time together. That was the option that I had voted for when I first found out about all of this.
It was an absolute honor to be chosen to attend this event, and I was told that I would be contacted over the course of the next year to do more concerning Disney World's foster care outreach. I can't wait to see what else I'll be able to do! Combining Disney and foster care... two of the biggest pieces of my life!
After all of the excitement on Saturday night, the girls in my family all went to Epcot the next day to celebrate my sister's eighteenth birthday. My dad wasn't feeling well, so my brother had offered to stay home with him. My mom, sisters, and I had an excellent time though. We ate at my restaurant, where everyone went over the top to celebrate my sister's big day, and we were able to get Fast Passes to ride my favorite ride, Soarin', which was incredible (it was our first time riding the new version... totally exceeded my expectations!).
There's been a lot going on at home over the past week as well, though I'm not quite ready to get into detail here just yet. But good thoughts would definitely be welcome, if you have a moment to send some our way. On top of that, I got to train a new Cast Member at work this week, I handmade Halloween costumes for my little sisters, and I also stepped in to help my mom plan my little sisters' birthday party, since she had a lot of other things to take care of and couldn't focus solely on that. Of course, I love planning parties, so I'm just wishing she would give me complete control and let me take off with everything! Oh, and I'm also working on a novella that I hope to be publishing before the end of the year... I know, I'm crazy.
This time of year is when we start getting busier than usual at home, with four birthdays only ten days apart, and then the holiday season fast approaching... We've had a bit of a monkey wrench thrown into our lives now as well, but we're handling everything day by day as a family, and I know we'll get through it all.
I can't wait to see what this next week brings. I'm tired, but I'm ready to go. I know that I'll be training Cast Members at work again multiple times over the next two weeks, and we've got Halloween, our birthdays, and the party to get through this week alone. There's lots going on, but I'm gearing up for the insanity. Let's go!
Don't forget that everyone will be preparing for that upcoming holiday season pretty quickly... Go to my Amazon page to order "A Christmas For Toys" and "I Am Not A Circle" to give to the little ones in your life. A book makes the perfect present, and you'd be helping a new author as well!
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