Jesse participated in many, many different STLP events and while his dad and I never attended (mostly because they were held during the school/work day) we knew the State Championship was always the big event of the year.
In May of 2007 I was invited to attend as Jesse was honored during the opening ceremonies and because his presentation partner for the rElements program was going solo with their project. Thinking back now I am not sure how I managed to find my way there on my own, sit in an audience of strangers and listen as the State Director, Elaine Harrison, recognized Jesse's contributions. All I really recall about that day was this small sea of yellow tshirts with my sons beautiful face on them - Dunbar's STLP had designed (thank you, Katie!) shirts to wear that managed to include Jesse in their big day. Certainly, where he belonged.
This years' State Championship was held on May 21st and the Mindtriggerz Project set up a booth in Rupp Arena. The day started perfectly with Jesse's dad and I yelling at each other as we unpacked at the loading dock at 9:30am. We yell at each other a lot but it's okay because it prevents us from taking out our pent up frustration and anger on others. Once we made it into the arena and found our "booth" we were back to good. Jon helped us set up shop and James came by to give me a much needed hug.
We set up one of the Mindtriggerz computers to demonstrate on along with our presentation board, plenty of brochures to hand out and a variety of homemade penguin candies and cookies (thanks to Sarah who made them beautiful with her decorating "skillz"). Our first of many WAVES of participant students rolled in just about the time we decided we needed another table for all our gear. Thanks to the incredible STLP State Staff (thank you, Kay!) we obtained a second table to help us spread out and to set up an additional Mindtriggerz computer.
Sarah managed to find us among the huge crowd using her last two minutes on her cell phone plan calling me (I felt so honored!) and after listening to me talk to a group of students she took over as emcee extraordinaire advising the listeners that they only GOT A COOKIE after listening to her spiel and taking a turn at Tux Type or Tux Math. While Jon took over from James trying to get Jerome's laptop hooked up to the interwabz, we all took turns talking, explaining and demonstrating what we do and why we do it.
Two young men from Liberty Elementary School approached Jesse's dad and asked if they could interview him. They were among the many "cyber reporters" milling around and we were EXTREMELY impressed by their abilities. There were some emotional moments but these boys just blew us away and I hope one day we will get to see their video and report. Throughout the day several reporters came to interview and while they were all awesome - well, the two from Liberty were just incredible.
While the young people came, saw, tested, asked questions and moved on, it was a day filled with much laughter and comraderie, a day Jesse would have surely loved. Our darling Ellidia arrived about 12:30 and proceeded to wile the passerby's with her charm, beauty and "shoulder touch" and scored us several potential donations. She handed out a boat load of brochures and filled the booth with her laughter. We are really going to miss her as she ventures off to Vanderbilt on her scholarship - but we hope she'll come back to see us every once in awhile.
The day drew to a perfect ending with the showing of Beth who decided to stop by and say Hi. Beth's dad has been an awesome contributor to Mindtriggerz and Beth - having just recently joined us at the garden - is going to be an awesome connection, helper, assistant, friend. We are hoping to entice her wonderful beau as well!
As we packed up to leave we bumped into Elaine Harrison and shared a round of hugs and mutual admiration. She said "Jesse's spirit is all around us here" and I hope she's right. I hope he saw us, I hope he approved.