One of the most incredible things that has ever happened in my life (next to the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior) was meeting Rosalynn in person. That happened the night of January 23, 1999, outside Reunion Arena in the afterglow of Discover Card's Stars On Ice presented by Smuckers performance. Below is what actually happened to me as best as I can remember.
It was about 10 p.m. that night and I was just leaving the balcony area where I had an excellent seat to watch the program (a lively two and a half-hour show that was well worth the money and time just to go to). I noticed that traffic was going to be horrific leaving the place....so I decided to take a chance and see where the skaters might be leaving out at.
As I had figured, there was a crowd outside the place where three semis were parked in the service parking lot. It was about 10:30 p.m. when the skaters made their way to a waiting Carey tram for the trip to the airport and flying to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the next show the following night. I did see Katia Gordeeva, Ilia Kulik, and a couple of the pair skaters get on board.
Then Rosalynn came out. She was dressed up in an outfit that looked more like a businesswoman than a professional figure skater. She had her hair up in a French-braid and looked a little bit shorter than 5' 3". :-) She and a couple of friends with SOI got into a different vehicle for the drive out to the airport.
Before I go any further, here's a little more background to set up what happened next. I had read in both "Competitor's Edge" and in Sports Spectrum magazine about Roz' Christian walk and her rededicating her life to the Lord Jesus Christ back in 1995. It moved me in a way that got me to thinking about how could I express my graditude for her walk with the Lord. THEN IT HIT ME LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN!!!!
So in the midst of anticipation JUST seeing a figure skater, I moved from the area blocked off by a chained fence over to where the vehicles would have to drive up a ramp and out onto the city streets. And as Roz and her entourage were driving up the ramp, I held up my sign.
She came over to where I was standing (which shocked me in the first place)and personally thanked me for the sign, adding, "God bless you!" Needless to say, I was speechless and shaking in my shoes, yet I had the presense of mind to stay calm and ask for her autograph.
She not only took my sign as a gift from me (along with a copy of the Sports Spectrum story), but she also signed my program and the 8x10 photo I had bought at the suvenir shop. And she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek....and I WAS ON CLOUD NINE AFTER THAT!!!!!
Even though my photo of the two of us didn't come out at all (forgot to advance the film in my camera!!!!!! doh!!!!!!!!!), what Roz did in taking time out of her very tight schedule (10 minutes worth) to acknowledge my sign spoke volumes of her character and her kindness to her fans. Her off-the-ice manners were wonderful....and rather hard to put into words. Suffice to say, what Roz did was more than I anticipated in the very least.
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A Salute To Rosalynn Sumners