So there I was- foils in my hair, sitting under the dryer, contemplating all that needed to be done when I got back to the office, when my cell rings and it's mom. Not unusual, since we talk all the time. this time she has some pretty amazing news. The Boston Celtics called she said, and they have selected you for their Hero Among Us award and they want you to come to tomorrow's game. I remember looking towards the window and out at the blue sky- I think I let out a cry, because people started looking my way. Just like with out $10,000 donation the year before, I couldn't believe it was actually true. I called the Celtics rep back immediately and yes, it was true. I had been chosen for my work with Project Smile and was invited to tomorrow's night game for a presentation on Centre Court during a break in the game. My family was invited too. Now I wasn't much of a Celtics fan before that, but I knew what Centre Court at the Boston Celtics meant- it was one of the most hallowed grounds in sports history and somehow, someway, my little 26 year old self would be standing there tomorrow night.
Tomorrow night came- my mom, my two sisters and brother all came. We went first to the Celtics office where a PR rep welcomed us, gave me the official Celtics folder with the recognition letter in it and explained the evening. She walked us over to the Garden, through the immense backstage area and down to Centre Court. The Celtics and their opponent of the night- the Utah Jazz (my former favorite team) were warming up. I had never been inside the Banknorth Garden before, so every minute of this experience was brand new. I got to watch the players practice and then I was ushered to the middle of centre court of an official photo with Celtics captain Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko of the Jazz and a rep from the Mass State Lottery, a sponsor of the award. Matt, the PR director, brought us to our seats and told me he'd come back to get me before the second time out of the second quarter. I watched the game, excited and nervous. I still couldn't believe it was happening, that in a few minutes I would be standing on that court in front of a sold out crowd.
Then it happened. Matt came to get me and escorted me down to the edge of the court, he gave me the glass trophy to hold, showed me the best way to hold it and then with a gentle push on my back, sent me out to the middle of centre court. The announcer came on the speaker and suddenly I heard about Project Smile. I don't remember all the details- but I remember how bright everything was and suddenly it seemed that the world slowed down and I thought of all the struggles that there had been and all the worry that I go through and I looked around as the arena broke out into amazing applause and for that one fantastic shining moment, everything was perfect. I was standing on a floor where dreams had been realized, where legends had been made and for those brief minutes, I stood there too. Listening and seeing people cheer for my work- I felt like anything was possible, that no dream couldn't be achieved. And I felt happy; wonderfully, gloriously happy.