Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Whole Story

Back in July, Lou Mongello started the Adventureland Challenge. On a Sunday night at 8pm, the first round, a trivia contest/scavenger hunt, started. Well, sort of. The server was so overwhelmed with traffic that it took over 2.5 hrs to get everything back up and running. But since it was a scavenger hunt (finding questions on sponsor websites) as I was waiting for Lou's sites to come back up, I went hunting to the sponsor sites. Got lucky -- found almost all of the ten questions, then just sat and waited for the last sites. At 10:41pm (or so) I entered my answers on the online form. The contest ran for two weeks and was a little nerve wracking for me. I didn't receive a confirmation email that my answers had been received, although I had seen the confirmation after I had entered my answers. I just crossed my fingers that Lou had gotten my answers!

And thankfully, he had. I was announced as one of the second round contestants! The second round consisted of writing a caption for a picture. The picture was of the gorillas wrecking the camp from the Jungle Cruise. I worked on my caption for days -- to the point that I would look at my ideas and NONE of them sounded even remotely funny. So I sent out my best ones to my online Disney friends, and they helped me see which one was my best work.

"Quit fooling around and help me find that darned cricket! If I hear "When you wish upon a star" one more time, I'll go ape!"

Then started the voting. Ten days of me emailing people off my Excel spreadsheet, through Facebook, and Intercot. I had SO many people writing me and saying how excited they were for me, and that they were forwarding the message to others. One of my favorite Disney friends, Amy McKean, was one of those people. What a sweetie!!

On the last day of the voting, Lou went on vacation with his family. The worst part of the next ten days was the fact that none of us knew when the results were going to be announced. Four days after voting ended, Lou posted a podcast... with no news. I can't tell you how many times I checked WDW Radio that week! And finally the next podcast came out with the three finalists names. I found out when I was at school and I hope no one saw me jumping up and down!

Later that week Lou sent the three of us interview questions. Interview!! We each got time on the show to explain to the listeners who we were and why we should be chosen as the Ultimate Adventurer. On Friday at dinner I almost had a panic attack thinking about how much was riding on the interview. And then I listened to the reasonable part of my brain and told myself that this WAS going to be fun and I would be mad at myself afterwards if I didn't enjoy this. And I was right. It was a blast talking to Lou and trying to explain who I am, who my family was in a short amount of time.

On Monday morning we were listening to the podcast at breakfast time. Julie had gotten a chance to say hello and talk about our family on the podcast, so she was thrilled to hear herself on my iPod! We also got to hear the other two contestants. Jeff DeBoer was from Indiana, recently married (two yrs), active in community theater, and had done the Disney College Program. Ashley Fischer was 19, a student at Ithaca College, and had been to Disney 28 times.

The voting for the final round started the evening after the podcast came out. I got back to my Excel spreadsheet and started to hound everyone. :) Thankfully the voting was only a week long. This time I had everyone at school voting for me (the first time we were only in school three days of the voting), plus I had Tim send out an email at his schools.

I have to say... all along, I had a good feeling about this contest. From the beginning I really felt that if I put the work into this, I could win it. I remember running outside, listening to Lou's podcast and him talking about who might be the Ultimate Adventurer, and me saying out loud, "That's me... I'm going to win this." My husband, who doesn't like to see me broken hearted (go figure), was always trying to keep me down to earth. But I was stubbornly optimistic, which if you know me, is a little bit of a stretch of character.

So when the voting ended and we had a week to wait for the results, I tried very hard to not think about the end. I waited for the podcast to come out (which was late as Lou was in WDW and came back late Sunday). I checked the website at school all day Monday to no avail. I left the house for rehearsal at 6:15pm telling my husband that I had my cell phone on 'just in case'.

I was about a minute from rehearsal when my phone rang -- unknown number. It was Lou, and of course it all came out that I had won the contest! I was so glad he taped the whole thing because after I hung up I couldn't remember a word I had said. It was amazing to hear that I had won. What a blessing!!!

I was so turned around by his call that I went to the wrong church for rehearsal. Fixed that (thankfully the other church was right down the street) and then sat at rehearsal for an hour and a half trying not to think about the contest! I did call Tim and my parents before I went in. The BEST reaction was my mom and dad -- they cheered and hooray-ed, and to hear them happy was priceless. My dad joked that Tim could stay home and he would come with us... I know he was joking but BOY, if I could bring him (and he would go) I would do it in a heartbeat. He has had it so rough these past 6 years.

The morning after the win, both of my girls climbed into bed with me. We were talking and I said to Julie, "What do I always wish for when we throw coins in a fountain?"
She said, "A trip to Disney World".
"My wish came true, Jule," I said. "Do you know why?"
"Why?" she said.
"Because I worked as hard as I could to get my wish. Wishes come true when you work to make them come true."
I don't know if she understood, but I hope that it is a lesson her dad and I can teach her in the coming years. Disney talking about wishes and dreams are all good, but rarely is the committment and work behind those wishes and dreams mentioned.

So that's all of it. Look for my next blog post and what happens after the win!

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