They say “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” But my experience at the 53rd International Association of Fire Fighters convention was too good not to share with you.
This wasn’t my first trip to Las Vegas, but it was the first time I found myself in Sin City on business. This trip made me realize that being in Vegas for business rather than pleasure is the true mark of real adulthood. And, coincidentally, you could say I have the IAFF to thank in part for helping me meet this milestone. Since MDA partnered with the fire fighters more than 62 years ago, they’ve raised nearly $600 million dollars for people like me. As you know, even 20 years ago, doctors were telling people like my parents they should consider themselves lucky if they got 12 years with me. But, as I told the crowd of lifesavers at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, those doctors highly underestimated the power of the IAFF and the MDA.
The highlight of my time in Las Vegas was the opportunity to share the stage with IAFF President Harold Schaitberger. It was an unforgettable opportunity to thank the men and women who helped make my life as an adult possible.
It’s a real treat to travel across America and meet the men and women who, every year, head out to their streets, neighborhood storefronts and communities to Fill the Boot for MDA. The coolest part about meeting fire fighters in person is getting to see the enthusiasm each of them has for helping people like me. It’s rewarding to show them how their efforts have impacted my life and the lives of so many. I am constantly blown away by the compassion and loyalty of IAFF members. Without hesitation, they have always answered the call when people need their help, including MDA.
At the conference, so many people kept approaching me to tell me how glad they were to finally see the result of the progress we’ve been boasting about. Many said I was their inspiration to keep moving forward. But, on the contrary, they are the ones who are always inspiring me. It was such a mutually affirming experience.
I’m so grateful to everyone who came to watch me speak and to the IAFF for their continued pledge of support the organization I love.