Saturday starts early with the contest starting at 8:00. If you want good seats, the line started before 7am. I arrived and found Ryan Avery’s family waiting at the gates with Phyllis to get in and ensure they got great seats. Knowing how great of a speaker Ryan is and how much work he put into it, I was filled with nervous energy. So much so, that I only managed to cram in about 3 hours of sleep for fear of missing the entire event.
I chatted with Chelsea briefly to get an update on how Ryan was doing. He had drawn 8th, the same spot as his semi final. The first 7 speakers put everything they had into their speech and delivered some great speeches. Ryan delivered his speech and i was amazed. It was an incredible speech with a perfect delivery.
One last speaker and the judges finished up their job. I was sitting with the rest of the D7 staff and Leanna and Jim and we got all our video gear ready to ensure that we captured the big moment. Waiting was the worst part. Gary finally returned with the results. Third place and second place were announced. Finally the announcement was made, Ryan had one the finals. We all jumped taking as many pictures and videos of it as we could.
The celebration was crazy to be a part of. Ryan finished his speech and after exiting the room was surrounded with people getting pictures taken, talking with everyone, and handling the TI staff to ensure that word got out to all the media outlets. What an experience to be a part of.
The afternoon moved onto the business meeting. After last years 5 hour meeting, I was so happy that the meeting was absolutely uneventful. The new digital voting worked wonderfully. There were still several errors on every race, but never enough to change the outcome. 2 hours later, everything was done. A quick break and then we had our regional gatherings.
Finally it was time for the presidents dinner. I got pictures with several of the people that I’d met and enjoyed a great dinner. Afterwards, the dance began. The music was a fun mix from all different genres to try and ensure that there was something for everyone. The floor was packed and everyone was having a great time. It was the first time I’d been out on a dance floor in years.
Anyone who has known me for a while usually knows that I don’t sleep before early morning flights. My Orlando flight was at 8:50 but I had to catch a ride at 4:45 to avoid a $60 cab. Saturday night was no exception.
If you understand this picture, than you know where I was. If you don’t, all I can say is you had to be there. Video, which I have, doesn’t do this any justice at all. After dropping a friend off, I had enough time to pack everything up, send a bunch of emails (Apparently I wasn’t the only one there who was up, I got a response one of the messages at 2:30am), and get ready for my flight.
When I left Medford, my checked bag weighed 42 pounds. I weighed it at Orlando and found it had now reached 62 pounds. For the first time, I was thankful that their was a conference bag. I pulled out all the books that I could and packed them into the TI bag from the conference and stuffed my laptop bag. I got my bag down to 50 pounds exactly.