Greg Dancho, Cindi Bigelow, and Terry O’Connor
As I sit watching this nor’easter develop in front of me (expecting 15 inches of snow!), I am reflecting back on this past Saturday night. I was blessed to be honored by the Cardinal Shehan Center (a center in Bridgeport that services the children in the area with sports and after school activities) at this year’s Red Ribbon Ball. Proceeds from the evening also went to the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport.
It was close to 300 people at a black tie affair that I will never forget. I will be honest, when the director, Terry O’Connor, asked me to accept the award this year for my community work, I was not comfortable. I was sure (and am sure ) there are many people out there that do so much more than I do. Of course Terry would hear none of that so I humbly agreed to be the 2010 recipient.
As the evening got closer, my nerves were working on overtime. What would I say, would I know many people at the event, what was the evening going to be like? I had been to many a lovely affair like this but never on the receiving side. When I got there, I was overwhelmed! People came up to me and said the most amazing things. I really wasn’t sure what to say back except thank you.
I know I have tried to give back to my community for the last 25 years but the things people knew I had done blew me away. They referenced event after event that I had been involved in, and speech after speech that I had given to numerous organizations in town. They talked about so many of the things that I had participated in over the years, and they told me how it had impacted them personally. They shared with me moving experiences they had gone through while giving back….my eyes must have been as wide as saucers. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing….each comment or story was sweeter than the next.
About 3/4 of the way through the evening, it was time for me to get up and address the audience. I hadn’t even gotten out of my seat, and the room was on their feet applauding. Oh my Lord….the emotion that I was filled with is really hard to share.
When I finished my “little talk” I felt a great sense of relief. I was pleased with how it went, I could see the heads nodding in agreement, I could hear the mumbles of affirmation at what I was saying and I could see in their eyes they were in a beautiful place.
Cindi Bigelow with parents Eunice and David C. Bigelow
I felt it was my job to thank them for all they had done for our community. To acknowledge that not one person has to do it all, not one person has to “move a mountain” but that together in this room, every little step we take works collectively to make our community better.
I shared one small step after another, recounting many of the things I knew people in that room had done. I acknowledged person after person for the fine work they had performed while giving back….and I finished by saying that none of us are perfect and maybe each act we do won’t always have the positive impact we want it to, but the point is to never stop trying.
That is our job, to get up each day and just try again. Just trying to do your best is all anyone can ask and that is something that each person in the room should be proud of since, in fact, it is what they were already doing each day!
When I finished, I was glad I had accepted the award because I knew when I sat down, everyone felt good about themselves and what they had done. The night was not only for me, it was for all 300 people in attendance. They are the real hero’s, and I was honored to be among them!