Heidi Floyd, Ambassador for the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer recently spoke at the impressive LWML biannual assembly, a meeting held to divide funds raised by the group among various charitable organizations for children. We invited her to share her experience with Inside Stitch.
After speaking at a large convention for the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League in Portland back in 2009, I was asked to return to the next biannual event. It was held this June in Peoria, Illinois, and hosted close to 5,000 attendees from around the world with the overall theme, “Stress: How to get it out of your life.” Upon first receiving the invitation, I must admit that though the opportunity to speak to so many women was exciting, it also left me absolutely petrified. Add to that, I was encouraged to be strictly “humorous.” I wasn’t invited to deliver my typical personal story about my battle with breast cancer. No, this was a request for six installments of comic relief.
The complexities continued. I was asked to utilize props left on stage from previous speakers. What were they, you ask? A diving board and a miniature yoga ball. In the beginning I had concerns about the fact that I’d never been asked to be “funny” when speaking, but serendipitously, it turns out that when one sees one’s face on a screen that’s about 12 feet tall, rolling around on a yoga ball that is vastly smaller than one’s body, nothing but humor can come from that.
Although not specifically a breast cancer event, the number of women in attendance who had been touched by the disease was staggering. Statistically, it was without question the largest number of survivors and patients I’ve met in one place; all of them full of hope, encouragement and joy. It was an honor to speak to them and, hopefully, to entertain them.
Since the group was so large, they held the event in an area hockey stadium (home of the Peoria Rivermen) instead of a church. I wasn’t aware of this detail until I arrived, but let me tell you, as an avid hockey fan, nothing wraps up a great speaking engagement like a little ride on the Zamboni. I can’t wait to go back!