There I was a 28 years old new mother and living in a big city with no friends but a horse farm to keep up which included 15 acres to bush hog each week. Ear plugs in place, I mowed and tuned in to tapes of motivational speakers. I listened to a bunch of them over an entire summer! They inspired me to learn how to perfect the power of the spoken word. So I signed me up to be my own student by listening to the best.
At the end of summer 1987, I needed off the tractor and girlfriends. I joined a women's auxiliary group for Porter-Leath Children's Center. That group introduced me to the most amazing ladies who really cared about the kids at the center. Their passion inspired me. They became good friends. In turn, I became their fearless leader. As president of PaLs, I lead them on an adventure of making a difference in Memphis, TN. My amateur public speaking skills blended with my personality inspired these ladies to think and do outside the box. They were nervous at times but they were inspired to achieve what sometimes seemed impossible. Each success was met with a hungry appetite to do bigger.
Eventually, this small brave band of women worked with me to champion a capital campaign in 1991. Keep in mind I was a never before director that didn't even know you could spell capital / capitol more than one way depending on how it was meant. Who cares about spelling…just show me the money so we can help kids! In one year, we raised $1.3m which was used to build Sarah's Place – an emergency shelter for abused abandoned children.
I was hooked on fundraising through inspirational storytelling. As I worked on my speaking skills, my career advanced. I spoke locally, regionally and nationally on stage, on TV, and on the radio. Hundreds of speeches later a private dream was born in my soul to become an internationally known motivational speaker.
When my breast cancer returned in 2012. I prayed that my dream of inspiring an international audience would become a reality before I died. God blessed me and delivered the opportunity in December 2013. San Antonio, Texas was the location of the grand stage and international audience of my dreams. I was so excited!
Satan tried to stop the show but God overcame the food poison, bad weather, and plane rerouting delays and an unplanned overnight stay in Atlanta. We barely made it for rehearsal. I know the folks who had invited me to be their amazing speaker where concerned to see me in travel clothes, hair a mess and bad make-up job. I laughed. They did too nervously. I wasn't worried. I'm a southern girl. So give me a couple of hours and I can transform. God got me there so I knew that all would work out just fine.
As I stepped up on the stage, I asked God for the words of my mouth be acceptable in His sight.
Show time. It was the NYC production, stage, sound, and lighting that I had dreamed of. It was my time to see if all the 26 years of working on improving speech over the previous speech would make a difference.
The audience was an international group of Novartis oncology executives from around the world. Their newly FDA approved break though drug was working very positively for me in my advanced breast cancer battle. Who saw cancer as providing me the chance to deliver my break though speech of a lifetime? I guess God did.
I began by first saying thank you (in five different languages) for their work in developing this new drug. Then I delivered a speech that comet could not scrub away from their memory! It was my chance to inspire an audience of leaders in the world wide work to end cancer. I felt humble to be their speaker. But the honor did not stop me from stomping my boots as I challenged them to find ways to work harder, smarter and faster to find a cure for breast cancer. They had a real live fighting thriving survivor making a heartfelt appeal for women (and men) worldwide.
The standing ovation answered my prayer. I delivered a speech that appeared to inspire an international audience to keep making life saving differences. To keep delivering hope to the world. I felt fulfilled and oh so happy.