Sunday, April 6, 2008

Travelingman meets Barack

There are several of us who have been volunteering here in Charlotte, NC for Barack Obama with the "Charlotte NC for Barack" group. We were all very excited that he was coming to Charlotte for a Town Hall meeting this past Wednesday.

The most exciting thing about this was that the Campaign called me to find someone to introduce him for the event and to see if we could find 60-80 volunteers to sign up. This was the first time I had actually gotten to formally talk with anyone from the campaign. We had a meet up at Jillian's on Tuesday and 200 people showed up to ask to become volunteers for the event.

On Wednesday I woke up at 4 AM because I could not sleep. So I got up, made some coffee, read the newspaper, showered, shaved, iorned my shirt and got ready to go to the office. I really debated telling my boss or not as I am certain he is a republican. Since I was leaving early and I was afraid I might be on TV I figured that honest was the best policy. My boss gave me a bit of a hard time, but told me to go and have a good time.

I arrived to the venue pretty early because I wanted to soak it all in, I watched the press corps setting up, the secret service doing last minute checks, armed police officers with dogs going through the building. It was kind of surreal for me as I have only seen it on television. I watched as the venue began to fill up from my seat at stage right.

They had reserved a section for various supporters, politicians, delegates, VIP's and there I was right in the middle of it, me, just a regular guy who is inspired by Barack to get involved. At 3:15 a member of the campaign staff showed up and asked myself and two of my fellow volunteers to follow them along with Raheem & Tammi who were going to introduce him. To be honest none of us knew what to expect.

They lead us through a winding path, back behind some curtains, then along a long hallway and suddenly we were backstage. From there we could hear the crowd getting anxious to hear the Senator speak and we were able to peek through the curtains and watch the crowd doing the wave.

Suddenly I looked up and there was Anderson Cooper, a newscaster from CNN who was tagging along with Barack all day. The cameras went up and then in a split second Barack appeared at the door. We all just stood there as he came bounding onto the back stage area and it was just the six of us with the camera's and two staffers and of course the Secret Service. Barack said lets get a group photo and he came over to us quite quickly and he went to the center (I always do the same thing because I am tall too.) this put him right next to me. He laughed and said ok everybody squeeze in as he pulled each of us beside him closer. Then he shook each of our hands, smiled broadly, and seemed so genuine to me. Then in an instant he was gone...

The same staffers who brought us out to meet him then appeared and led us back to our seats. We sat down just as he came onto the stage. What surprised me the most was that the first thing he said was that he wanted to thank some super volunteers who had been working really hard here in Charlotte and he thanked myself and Susan Higgins, then he made us stand up and get recognized by the crowd with a round of applause. Susan and I both were totally shocked by this, and it was incredible to be recognized for your efforts.

All that I can tell you is that, no matter what I do, it will never be enough in my book. Every day I realize there is so much to be done, so much I can do. To be recognized for my effort was so humbling to me and only inspires me to work that much harder. I hope you enjoy what I have written, but more than anything I hope that it can help to inspire you to know that no matter what we all need to be involved, we all need to work together and we all need to volunteer.

Later when I came home and turned on CNN I was watching myself shaking hands with the next President of the United States of America. Today was a day that will never be forgotten. There are so many stories like mine in this campaign, this is so not about me and anything I have specifically done. As Barack has said "when ordinary people get together they can do extraorginary things". Please get active and participate.

Rick Owens Volunteer For Change!
Yes We Can!