Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brae's Public Speaking Debut in Dallas

On Thursday, September 24, my daughter made me the proudest mommy in the whole world!
First, a recap.
December 18, 2006, I received news that Braelyn's Daddy, my ex and friend, was killed in Taji, Iraq. He was commander of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and had gone on a special mission. When he couldn't see ahead of him, he decided to stop and go back. Unfortunately, where he stopped, was at the foot of an 18 ft. cliff. The Bradley came crashing to the ground after flipping upside down into 4 feet of water. Ultimately, Brian drowned as a result of being trapped. Braelyn was only 7 years old and in the 2nd grade when this occurred, exactly 1 week before Christmas. Her Daddy was her world. They had their own special words for things, they had traditions, and above all, they were a perfect pair.
One year later, Jocelyn, Brian's widow, learned of an organization called, The Snowball Express. Snowball gets the support of many corporations, the main one being American Airlines. Together, these companies and organizations work together to send children and their surviving parent or guardian on an all expense paid trip. The families get a chance to meet other widows and children who are experiencing the same things. Brae has gone to Disneyland 2 times with her step-mom and this incredible group.
This year, Brae and I went to the Colonial in Ft. Worth where we met the coordinator of this program, Micheal Hogg. Micheal Hogg, Braelyn, and I have been friends ever since. Mike called and let me know that at a press conference in Dallas, they were to announce that the city would be hosting Snowball this year. There, Brae got the opportunity to speak on behalf of all children of fallen soldiers, about what Snowball Express means to her. She did an AMAZING job! I am so proud.

Braelyn practicing in the bathroom mirror, before speaking to a room full of executives, Mayor of Dallas,Tom Leppert, and several others who make The Snowball Express possible. A few celebs were there too.

My sweet girl and I in front of the gorgeous view in the Flag Room at Dallas City Hall.

Braelyn meets the Coordinator of Taps.
It was exciting for Brae to get to speak to different news cameras. Unfortunately, the same day we were at downtown Dallas, a terrorist decided he was going to bomb a building downtown, bumping the coverage the Snowball Express deserved. Figures. But at least the FBI was on it and there was no terrorist attack while we were there. SCARY.

Prior to meeting Brian, Brae's daddy, I dated a boy name Tom. Ironically, his Mom handles the Hotel end of Snowball Express. 10 years later, we come back full circle. God puts people in our lives and we don't know why, BUT here we are. Both totally SHOCKED, but glad to meet again under these happy circumstances. Julie and I got to catch up on a stroll through Dallas. I will share more about that shortly.
Also in attendance was Aaron Norris, who is a filmmaker. Aaron Norris lost his brother in Vietnam and flew home with his brother's remains, bringing him home for his burial. I admire him and wonder if I would be able to do the same.Yes, he is also Chuck Norris' brother. During Braelyn's speech she mentioned that not far from City Hall, she and her Daddy used to go rock hopping and that he used to put her on all the Longhorns. He would sit her up top and like a little monkey, she would hang upside down. So after the speech Brae led Julie and I through downtown to the very spot where they used to play together.
After the press event, Braelyn, Julie (Tom's mom) and I went for a literal stroll down Memory Lane. It takes a lot of trust being led by a 10 year old through the streets of downtown and through a cemetery, but like her Daddy, she knew where she was going.
So Brae pranced down the trail like a free little pony warning Julie and I to watch out for rats. "RATS?!!" we exclaimed. "Just kidding." she assured us. Brae said, "Mom, don't freak out. I know what I am doing. I turned the corner to find Brae "rock hopping" cross a water fall. i couldn't tell her not to because she was already almost to the other side. So , I let her and she made it back dry.It was funny, because in my mind, I thought, "BRIAN! You let her do what?!!" She was like 3 and 4 when they started going there.Yes. She was also 3 when she started hopping across the waterfall too! No wonder, I never knew about this.
Brae catches a ride on a stampeding longhorn.What a special memory. I am so excited we will get to spend so much time in Dallas during Snowball. I think Brian would be pleased.
At the end of this very memorable day, Brae and I celebrated in Southlake with some Starbuck's and girl time. It was a great way to end a special day!