BLR Play It Forward 2014

go get ’em, girls!

I feel like such a proud Mamma today.

Long ago I hired a mousey, quiet, seemingly timid college kid named Crystal to work for me. I saw something special in her I knew for sure most people missed. In the 10+ years since then, I’ve watched her do amazing work in the communities she’s lived in and grow into this strong, intelligent woman who knows exactly who she is. She’s this perfect mix of sweet, kind, and silly, but serious and driven too. One of those watch out, you’ll never see me coming in all my awesomeness, but I’m going to continue changing the world into more of a positive place kind of people. She posted something on Facebook this morning about her new adventures on the west coast and a new job she’s starting. She decided she wanted to move there, made a plan and just did it. No surprise she’s already “making it”- she believes in herself and goes for it. Love that girl and her spirit. It has been an honor to tell her potential employers over the years they’d be fools not to hire her because she’s the best.

I got an email today from one of my BLR Play It Forward year #1 scholarship winners, Raheema. She graduated in June and told me she was going to SUNY Cortland in the fall. She’ll be majoring in athletic training, and doing indoor & outdoor track. Though I’ve only seen her in person a couple times since 2012, I can sense how much she’s grown and I have no doubt she will do amazing things. According to my hometown Mount Anthony Union High School 2015 yearbook, she’s Most unforgettable:

Unforgettable Raheemah

I agree! Another person I’ve been lucky enough to come across who embodies that undeniable zest for life that always makes everyone she meets, smile.

Then there comes other BLR Memorial Scholarship winners Mercedes Chen & Jami Mathers who came bounding into Willow Park last month for our Alumni Soccer Game portion of BLR Play It Forward, 2015 – with big grins, words of thanks, and gifts for me from their trips they took with their earned scholarship funds:

BLR girls

Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend but a few seconds with them as I was running around trying to make sure to cover all my event organizer bases, but I could feel from their thanks, and see from their excited faces in the short time we had together- their lives are never going to be the same. They’ve seen new parts of the world and new parts of themselves. That was precisely my hope, my biggest goal and dream when starting the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Life gets crazy, It’s not always easy, there are good times and bad, and you wonder if you’re ever doing anything right. Then days like today happen and you truly feel the gift that it was indeed possible you made a positive difference in someones life. This is a beautiful feeling.

I’m so proud of these young ladies, so thankful to all the ladies in my life, (some still on this earth, and some in  other places), who’ve inspired and supported me always. I can’t wait to do more to give back for all that’s been given to me.

#Unforgettable #PlayForwardGiveBack #Believe

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blr play it forward 2014 memorial scholarship winner essay

Jami Mathers was our memorial scholarship fund student winner last summer:

Blue Lollipop Road Travel Scholarship Fund

We were only, um- completely jealous when we found out she was off to Italy with her awarded funds for her adventure during this school year. Words from her trip:

Day 1

Upon arriving in Milan, my group had an extra day to discover Italy. We first drove to Lake Maggoire for the best view of the Alps in all of Italy. The town surrounding the lake was small and cute. The day was absolutely gorgeous. We had free time to walk around the petite shops and relax by the lake. It wasn’t long before we were back on the tour bus and driving to our hotel in Punta Sabbioni or Tranchetto.

Day 2

In the morning, we took a boat over to the mainland of Venice and arrived at a factory where we saw a glassblowing demonstration. The art of it is purely amazing. Every different form and style of Venetian glass is divine and sparkles with beauty.

After the demonstration, we took a guided tour around the entire city. We walked through the shops on the Rialto Bridge, rode a gondola on and through the Grand Canal and lastly, we visited the Bridge of Sighs. Once the tour was over, we had time in Saint Mark’s Square to roam. I chose to see the Museo Correr and the Archeological Museum. Both buildings were remarkably beautiful, especially the Museo Correr. The entire building is made with naturally colored marble, making the walls look as if they were elaborately painted.

There is more to come, and yet I’m already in love.

Day 3

In the morning we drove five hours to arrive in the city of Florence. Today, I accessed the Accademia or the Uffizi where the architecture was phenomenal. Afterwards, we walked to a local leatherworks showroom where we received a demonstration on leather in Tuscany. I’ve always loved the smell of leather, but true Italian leather beats it all.

When we had lunch today, the food was heavenly. I wanted more and more of everything; it all looked so good.

I ended the day by sitting in the main square, watching the sun go down with a cup of gelato in my hand, ending another beautiful day.

Day 4

Today, I was in Pisa. I love the area around the Cathedral, Baptistery and the Leaning Tower. We first entered the Cathedral and then made our way next door to the Baptistery. The Baptistery is the largest in the world and is the only Baptistery in the world that is spherical. Every day at noon, the owner comes in and sings where her words are echoed twelve times. We arrived at noon. The complete overwhelming silence in the Baptistery as the owner sang was utterly chilling yet beautiful.

The Leaning Tower was next in line. I lay in the grass as I ate yet another gelato and beheld the tower’s glamourous imperfection.

After leaving Pisa, we had dinner back in Tuscany. The restaurant overlooked the valley as the sun set.

Day 5

Today, I spent another evening in Florence to see the Duomo and the Statue of David. Each was a fabulous work of art in themselves.

Day 6

By mid-afternoon, we arrived in Assisi. I didn’t think that I’d like Assisi, but once we arrived, I don’t like I ever want to leave. It is the exact image you get in your mind when you picture Italy; it is completely picturesque. I haven’t been here long, and I’m already so completely in love with Assisi.

We visited the Basilica of St. Francis and just like the town, every aspect of it was unexplainably gorgeous.

 Afterwards, we hiked up to the top of the town where a rather large castle rest. Looking out into the distance, you see magnificent gentleman farms for miles, while surrounded by mountains.

Day 7

Today, we explored the ruins of Pompeii. It’s no doubt that tourists and visitors are reminded of the tragedy that took place long ago as Mount Vesuvius lurks in the background. When the volcano erupted, it not only destroyed an entire town, but it also practically mummified the residents. Today, you can see them perfectly preserved in clay moldings. When you see their last moments, you often find yourself filled with compassion yet curiosity. They make you realize exactly how valuable a single second is in life. They make you reflect upon your life as a whole.

After the tour of the Pompeii, we saw a cameo demonstration outside of the ruins. Once done shopping or souvenirs, we transferred over to the other side of the island in the Sorrento Region. The Mediterranean Sea was located directly behind our hotel. Tonight, we walked around and relaxed by the beach.

Day 8

After breakfast, we took a boat over to the island of Capri. Then, we took an island boat tour around the entire island of Capri. Everything is completely picturesque.

Afterwards, we took a trolley up to Capri Town where we went to a perfume factory and visited the “Garden of Augustus”. At the garden, I saw great views down on the Faraglioni Rocks. I love everything about Capri; it doesn’t matter which winding street you go down, there will always be a delicious fragrance in the air or an amazing view to the side.

Once the tour was over, we took the trolley back down to the lower level of Capri. Then, I relaxed by the sea as I ate my billionth cup of gelato. I wish I could stay here forever. Tomorrow is nearly here and I don’t want to leave.

Day 9

After leaving Capri yesterday, we drove to Rome that evening and checked into our hotel where we then ate dinner.

We had to wake up early this morning to go to the Vatican, because the Pope was coming to the country for a meeting. We walked through the Vatican Museums and were the very last group to enter the Sistine Chapel. The few minutes you have in the Chapel are completely silent and entirely overwhelmed with peace. It feels as if all the problems in the world have never seemed to exist.

Once out of the Chapel, we went to St. Peter’s Square, but the Pope had already shut down the Basilica. We then walked to the Colosseum and through the Roman Forum. From there, we visited the Spanish Steps and the Piazza Navona via the Pantheon.

I ended my last night in Italy eating gelato next to the Trevi Fountain. It seems as though every part of my trip was dream.

By day 2 she was in love, by day 7 she was realizing exactly how valuable a single second is in life, and by day 8 she felt like she didn’t want to leave. Ahhh- This is why we do this! If I know anything for sure, I know Jami will now dream even bigger, live even better, and be inspired to do even more than she already imagined was possible!

We don’t just have an event, we bring people together. We don’t just give money to students, we provide the opportunity to open minds and change perspective. We don’t just think travel/exploring something new has the power to change a life for the better, we know it does.

Today is Friday July 10, 2015 and we are about to kick off our 4th Annual Event. I can’t believe it has been 4 years. I am so proud of all of our scholarship winners like Jami, and I am so thankful for every last person who helps, plan, participate, donate, and execute every detail to make this all happen. Play It Forward is powerful. It means something big. I am thrilled to know we will be doing this for many years to come. There are so many amazing people to honor, so many happy memories to celebrate and so many young people to support in chasing all that’s possible.

Thank you for sharing, Jami! We hope you will stay inspired, dream big, and continue to work hard believing in everything.

Hope to see everyone in the community out joining us for fun and doing good this weekend! 

#PlayForwardGiveBack #Inspired #Travel

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please, please, please- don’t wait

There is no other way I can say it besides now is the time.

Like right this minute. 

If there’s something you’ve been wanting/wishing/trying to muster up the energy, confidence, “right time” for- start today.

If you’ve really wanted to make a change for a long time but haven’t gotten around to it- start today.

If you’ve been meaning to clear your schedule to take care of something important to you- start today.

If you have the choice to take an hour to spend with yourself, with your partner, your kids, your friends, neighbor, your aunt, your uncle, your grandparent your parents, your dog, or your frog, and ditch on that never-ending to-do list or time-wasting work meeting- do it today.

If you love someone and haven’t told them in a while, stop anything and everything you might be doing right now and pick up the phone and tell them, go next door and hug them, get in your car and drive to them, open up Skype and blow kisses through the screen at them, write them a letter, run outside and scream it out loud…

…while you can. 

Today I have to say goodbye to this smiling face:

My Friend Katie

…who’s been in my life since I was a middle-school kid.

My Friend Katie

Katie, my constant hometown friend of years and years who was a most amazing sweet, kind, genuine, generous, selfless, happy, funny and positive person- passed away last week. The above photos were taken during my BLR Play It Forward event time last year in Vermont.

I didn’t get home in time to see her this summer, and she lost her fight before our coffee date that was scheduled for this week.

My heart feels ripped to shreds, but Katie inspires me to share this:

Don’t wait. Life is so short. We get busy, we think tomorrow will come for sure, we always think we have more time- and sometimes we don’t. Please give yourself a gift by reaching out to your loved ones to tell them what they mean to you. Follow your heart, your dreams, your crazy ideas. Go do, be, see, laugh, love, live it up. Be courageous. Fear is nothing. Nothing is scary until you lose someone you love so much and no longer have an option to spend time together.

Remember what’s important, celebrate the memories you have, and live like today is the day.

Thank you, Katie for bringing so much joy to this world and so much light to my life. I promise to live, love, and celebrate everyday I have. You will always be in my heart.

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“i’ll figure it out”

I love when friends send me articles like this. (Reference post title the author’s #4.)

Of course the travel & adventure part of this womans’ story are inspiring and invigorating in that I-wanna-go-out-and-do-those-things-right-now, but the best part of this is lesson is that she took action when she had an aha moment. She started really living, and didn’t just crawl under her bed.

We all know life is short, but it seems like we just don’t live like it is. I vote for more of us to wake up with that carpe diem- life is short-let’s do it now attitude, rather than not. Whaddya say?

After wrapping a 3rd Annual BLR Play It Forward Event, I’m more than ever convinced that spending time with people I love like these:

VT playing tourist

Green Mountains

…and doing work that means everything to me:

BLR Memorial Scholarship Award

BLR Play It Forward 2014

Soccer rules at BLR

…(just to share a very few)- is what’s most important. The rest of life- can always be figured out. Read this article, pass it on, then ask yourself; If you could spend time with who you wanted, and do work that really meant something to you- what would you be doing?

Find your Blue Lollipop Road.  Today is the day. What are you waiting for?

#Inspiration #BLR #TodayIsTheDay

*Above photos taken in Vermont during my stay for BLR Play It Forward, 2014

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it’s officially blr play it forward week!

Friday kicks off BLR Play It Forward 2014! Another radio interview on WBTN 1370AM Radio at 5:30PM tomorrow (Tuesday 7/12/14) listen on AM radio or online to learn more about the weekend so you can join in the fun! Schedule of Events:

Play Forward- Give Back

How do you play Forward and give back?

#BLR #Community #PlayForwardGiveBack

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radio interview for BLR Play It Forward 2014

Tune in at 8:30am on Wednesday 7/9 to listen to my interview with David Lively at WBTN 1370AM Radio or listen online! WBTN has been supportive of Play It Forward for 3 years in a row, inviting me in for annual interviews. I’ve had a blast on the air, and secretly thought about how cool it would be to host a morning radio show. (Watch out David- I might steal your job!)

Big thanks to WBTN for being supporting BLR Play It Forward since year 1!

Who supports you?

#LocalRadio #BLRPlayItForward #PlayForwardGiveBack

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less than a month; play it forward 2014!

Whoop!

It’s been busy behind the scenes of BLR with BLR Play It Forward 2014 planning. We are less than 1 month away now from our 3rd Annual Event in Southern Vermont.

Mark your calendars and join us for Friday & Saturday festivities July 18th & 19th. All are welcome.

Also:

I’ve had several requests to purchase 2014 BLR Play It Forward jerseys:
1.) Yes! I can ship anywhere in the USA, or you can pick up day of Alumni Game (7/19) at Howard Park.
2.) $20 donation gets any size kid or adult shirt. All donations go to the BLR Memorial Travel Scholarship Fund.
3.) Get order in by July 1. Donate online with PayPal.
…and note what size you’d like- or send a check to the Blue Lollipop Road office:
305 W Morehead St.
Charlotte, NC 28202

Any questions? Email me:

Diane(@)bluelollipoproad.com

How do you play it forward?

#BLR #PLayItForward #PlayForwardGiveBack

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2014 blue lollipop road memorial scholarships are in!

It is such an honor to award a travel scholarship to a deserving female athlete in memory of our lost soccer friends. I cannot express how much it means to me that this scholarship keeps growing & going because of all the public support for BLR, and those alumni who participate in BLR Play It Forward:

Scholarship applications

Thank you to everyone out there for your love, time, and donations that make this possible! I will reveal this year’s recipient on July 19th during the 3rd Annual BLR Play It Forward alumni Game in Vermont, so stay tuned!

*(For alumni registration or general donation, please click here.)

Who do you remember?

#ThingsThatMatter #BLR2014 #PlayForwardGiveBack

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hometown support for the 3rd annual blr play it forward event

Yay for The Bank of Bennington! They matched a donation to the registration fees our alumni friend Kristen Fisk (a bank employee) paid. We love alumni and companies who support BLR Play It Forward & the BLR Memorial Travel Scholarship Fund.

Thanks Kristen and Bank of Bennington!

How’s your business giving back?

#PlayForwardGiveBack #Community #BLR2014

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