Well, there was no way I was going to let Billie go to Vegas on her own! I contacted IAEDP to discuss whether or not it would be OK for me to be there for the announcement of the contest winner. Not only was I assured that it was OK, I was welcome to partake of any of the Symposium events and be a guest at the banquet where the winner would be unveiled. How amazing!
So I reached out to some of my Beautiful Brave Girls that I met in Boise last summer. Two of these kindred spirits actually live in Las Vegas so I thought I would impose on one (or both) of them for a place to stay while in Vegas. Then a third Brave Girl announced she was coming to Las Vegas from Salt Lake City to be there for me.WOW! Next thing I know, the out of towners are booked into the hotel where the Symposium is taking place! Double WOW!
I arrived in Vegas and was enveloped in love, support, acceptance and encouragement from the moment I landed. We laughed, we ate, we chatted, we gabbed, we did a bit of sight-seeing and we diligently kept an eye on the UPS shipping updates to see when Billie would arrive. Thankfully, she arrived in plenty of time and my team of Brave Girls helped me set her up. We hid her under a black cloth and the stage was set for the big reveal later that night.
Me and my Brave Girl posse wandered through the trade show for Eating Disorder clinics and support organizations. We had to get bags to carry all our free loot! We carted off pens, t-shirts, water bottles, an autographed book, magnets, cookbooks, candles…there was a LOT of tables to visit and lots of goodies to grab. Throughout it all, the folks manning the booths chatted us up, asking where we worked, trying to drum up business, of course. I began to get more comfortable with announcing that “I am one of the artists of the mannequins for the contest.”
I. AM. AN. ARTIST.
Those words still don’t ring completely true for me, but that speaks more about my self-esteem and self-confidence than what I create.
At the dinner, it was announced that I won the Professional’s Choice award with over 300 votes. That one was a surprise! I had not expected that at all. And a few minutes later, we unveiled Billie and she got her moment in the spotlight.
I was given the opportunity to speak, so I told the 300 plus people in attendance a bit of my story and the journey with Billie. (video to be posted soon)
I got a standing ovation and some really positive comments from people like the previous President of IAEDP and one of the contest judges. It was very emotional, very powerful and the perfect send off for Billie.
Then the auction began! Nope, Billie wasn’t coming home with me, she was getting auctioned off. After a few minutes of bidding, $500 sealed the deal and Billie has a new home in South Beach, Miami – lucky girl! The auction winner actually offered to let me keep Billie if I wanted to, but I declined. Billie’s story didn’t end with me, it just began and she needed to share her message with others.
Sadly, we had to take Billie apart and pack her up in her shipping box again. It was a beautiful experience to share with my Brave Girls. It was so wonderful to have their support and encouragement throughout the whole experience. I can honestly say that it was a once in a lifetime experience. An experience that I must not forget, an experience that will help shape my future artistic and recovery endeavours.