I got to be queen for a day. OK, so it wasn’t even a whole day. It was for an evening. But, hey, I got the sash AND the tiara, so it still counts.
Becky Cwiek, a breast cancer survivor and co-founder of the Michigan Breast Cancer Coalition, invited me to speak at the Howell Pink Party, an annual event that paints the town pink from end to end. Large pastel bows decorate the street lamps and stores are decorated in anything and everything pink. Shop employees and restaurant servers are dressed in pink, as are the hundreds of people crowding the streets — survivors and supporters alike. Some wore large straw hats with big plastic flowers, others made skirts out of various shades of pink tissue paper.
“Sure,” I said. “But what do you want me to say?”
“Just tell your story,” she said.
I gave it a lot of thought in the days leading up to the festival. First, I was going to prepare a formal speech. Then, I thought, naw, it’s a casual crowd. I’ll just jot myself a couple of notes on an index card.
In the end, I didn’t do either. For the first time in my life, I stepped up to a microphone and delivered a speech without a script or some kind of aid, without truly any idea of what I was about to say. But somehow, it worked. The words flowed from me in an organized, inspiring way. I spoke for 7 minutes. And afterwards, a line of people formed, waiting to talk to me, wanting one of my “Amy. Short Name. Big Impact What’s Yours?” bracelets.
Maybe it was the tiara. Perhaps, as in a fairytale, it had magical powers that evening. That tiny, silver, gem-covered crown was definitely unexpected. As I approached the podium, I was swarmed by a bunch of ladies who fit me with a Pink Party Queen sash while simultaneously bobby-pinning a tiara into my hair. They moved so fast that they could have tarred and feathered me and I’d have been unable to defend myself. But I like the pink ribbon and tiara idea a lot better.
My bff Kristi Rugh Kahl videotaped the whole thing and, afterwards, she assured me I’d done a really great job. I couldn’t remember a thing I’d said. So, I was pretty skeptical. After all, she is one of my best friends, which makes her more likely to sugarcoat it and more than a little bit biased. So, even though she downloaded the video for me, it took me a little while to get up the nerve to watch it.
Actually, more than a little while. I downright stalled until Team Amy Leader Helene Held conspired with Kristi to get the video up on YouTube. So, there you have it. My YouTube debut.
To check it out, go to:
As for the Howell Pink Party — what a night! 100 percent of all proceeds went to benefit the Michigan Breast Cancer Coalition and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. And for a survivor, well, there’s nothing quite so uplifting as being in the midst of hundreds of people who are fighting for the very thing you are: A Cure.
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson