Friends, it has been a week.
Greg had Impact all week; I taught literacy classes; Luke had his 7th birthday party; two friends had babies; Greg baptized three teens; I had foolishly signed up to make lunch for 80 people at Y.E.S.; my mom came in town; we went out to dinner with new friends; we saw lots of old friends and teens at Impact; we had play dates. It was nuts.
Oh, and you may have heard that there was a scholarship competition going on during this time. During the competition, Greg and I joked that this was actually his first grad school course: Mass Communication. Even though we hardly got to see each other, we would have impromptu planning sessions by phone: What about a picture? It would have to have a link attached…What about a Facebook page? Maybe Y.E.S. could send out an email. Maybe so-and-so could tweet about it. Have you reached out to him? Have you done your afternoon update? We’re up a percent. No, half a percent. Now, we’re down a percent. Could we put a link on that church’s Facebook page? Have you sent your daily email reminder?
It felt like we were losing more than we were winning, and that pushed us to keep thinking and brainstorming new ways to reach out, to spread the word.
And yet, that’s not why we won.
My biggest lesson in this whole scholarship brouhaha was that mass communication tools alone can’t take you where you need to go. We didn’t win because of a picture or a particularly potent post. We won because we have amazing people in our lives.
We won because my mom and dad beat the bushes just as much as we did. Also, because of the way they have lived their lives, their friends voted with them, no questions asked. Even on one of Greg’s posts on the Facebook page he made, a woman we didn’t know commented, “You go Dave Sparrow!” I’m not sure she ever fully realized that she wasn’t voting for my dad.
We won because Greg’s family supported him 100% and shared with everyone they knew. Greg’s mom, in particular, talked his cause up to anyone she met. A high school friend from Murphy messaged him and told him that while she was in the bank, she heard people behind her talking about the contest. She turned around, and it was Greg’s mom! At Impact, Glenda took a bunch of fliers and went around passing them out to youth ministers to get them and their teens to vote.
We won because Mr. Rob, the preacher at my parents’ church in Macon, showed Greg’s video in Sunday morning worship and said very sweet things about us, urging the congregation to vote daily. It appears that they did!
We won because, Jim Yates, the preacher at Radnor, in whose building our church meets, told his congregation about the contest as well.
We won because people like Daphie Sellers and Maria Bunyi took the time not only to share our link, but to write heartfelt pleas begging people to vote.
We won because women from Brentwood Hills Church of Christ, like Leslie Fisher and Jenni Whitefield, and Amy Bowman, voluntarily took up our cause and rounded up votes for us.
We won because our Woodbine teens and our Summerville teens spent their free time at Impact getting votes. (See also: the counselor for our Jr. High kids, and several different teens from Greg’s past Workcamp crews.)
We won because Pat Ford…oh, Pat Ford. We won because he not only shared relentlessly, but helped on the technical side with voting troubleshooting, page maintenance, and basically whatever else we needed.
We won because Bryant Bumpus kept the tweets coming for us. And so did Jeff Walling, David Skidmore, David Rubio, Zac Smith, and Dave Clayton.
And because family members like Sharon Pogue (and family) and Alan Kirby and Rhonda Gray shared and/or emailed daily reminders to vote.
Because people like Kevin Harris and Rebecca Claypool helped solicit votes daily.
Because Daniel and Jiff Burnell took up our cause wholeheartedly, even though they had a baby during the contest!!
Because Caroline Aly recruited her whole family as active campaigners and at one point got us hundreds of votes by going to Pancake Pantry with an iPad and soliciting votes from people in line.
Because DeRon Rogers is the best cheerleader a team could have. “THE POWER OF ONE!”
Because Amy Games asked for a daily reminder so that she could share about the vote every single day.
Because Matt Suber shared with his 2,700 friends even though he doesn’t even know Greg.
And Jaima Schutt shared with her 20,000 followers on her blog’s Facebook page.
And Kelsey Eaton voted and solicited votes from the hospital while experiencing a significant health crisis. Seriously. There are no words. Plus, her mom, Nancy, and sister, Lindsey, got in on the action, as well!
Because Viviana Elizalde, Michael and Heidi Peters and Alison Winstead begged multiple times a day for votes and got their families voting.
Because the entire Salley/Brown family got involved: Larry, Ann, Erica, Tommy, and David shared the link, and Jacob actively campaigned for Greg at Impact!
And also, the Kendall/Steed family: Penny Kendall, Adrian and Courtney Steed, Joel and Amber Caillouet, and Kayli Kendall all shared Greg’s link.
Because old family friends, like Connie Bedwell and Vickie Rector and Tammy Behel and Whitney Behel Skellie, took the time to post regular reminders.
As did Drea Braddock, Allyson Gaither, Erik Spell, Page McCurry, Kristie Oliver, Nick and Leah Wilson, Jerry and Beverly Bryan, Kari Brooks, Marchelle Cox, Linda Kunkle, Allison Roberts, Doug Wallen, Chris and Lena Lovingood, Audrey Miller, Ron Jones, David Matthews, Jeff Wright, Jeff Carter, Shawn and Holly Duncan, Jonathan Bradley, Kevin and Molly Griggs, Justin Moore, Cortney Seaton, Shana Edinger, Stephanie Strunk, Zack Robinson, Whitney Young, Kari Waltz, Kevin Appleby, Cyndi Albach, and Candi Miller.
As well as former youth groupers like Stephanie Beaudry, Lauren Young, Melissa Price, Vanessa Helbig, Brittni Shannon, Olivia Todd, Olivia Cook, Taylor Dement, C.C. Garland.
C.C. shared from Afghanistan, Penny Kendall and Jesse Mook shared from the Philippines, Dave and Sharon Dement shared from Germany, David and Caryn Henniger shared from Nicaragua, and Keith O’Neal shared from Switzerland.
And there are more. Oh, so many more. I keep scrolling through my news feed to try to look to see who all shared, but there are so many posts that I can’t see past a couple days before Facebook gives up and starts showing me highlights from 2013. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ve left out some wonderful people who were huge helps. If I didn’t mention you, please let me know because I do want to thank you!
And I know that you didn’t help us so that I would mention you on a random blog post, but I wanted to write the names down. I wanted to see them and to think about them. This list of names includes people from my childhood; dear friends from college; family members from Macon, Murphy, Memphis, Kentucky; our church family at Woodbine; brothers and sisters from Summerville; friends from around the world; and people whom I don’t even know. I write them because your names represent the lessons I learned during this contest.
I learned about the power of relationships and how we are so connected to each other. Throughout the contest, we had people voting for us whom we had never met, but who had heard about the contest from several different sources from several different states!
I learned that our friends are a really generous, thoughtful group of people who will spend time and emotional energy on causes from which they will not personally benefit.
But most of all, I learned that the most valuable asset in life is community. Technology didn’t win this contest. Desire didn’t win it. Perseverance didn’t win it. Our friends and family won it. Our church won it.
Thank you for showing me how powerful community can be. And thank you for giving this opportunity to Greg, to our family, and ultimately to our church. My memory fails me, and words fail me, but please know how deeply grateful I am to all of you.