“You must be my lucky star
‘Cause you shine on me wherever you are.
I just think of you and I start to glow,
And I need your light, oh baby you know.
Star light, star bright, first star I’ve seen tonight.”
My little Diva rolled her eyes as I danced in the kitchen with hip-swiveling Madonna-esque gyrations.
Lucky me! Picked from the waitlist! Driving The Brickyard!
“Shine your heavenly body toniiiiiiiight” … With a final hip thrust I uncomfortably bumped back to reality. The celebratory air hissed from my party balloon. My track kitty was empty.
Brushing aside thoughts of Indy, I focused on performing the necessary due diligence of sending out emails, networking and seeking ideas for sustainable funding. My notes might desiccate in junk folders, but I would try.
Who could I write to?
I scanned through old emails for people who had shown support. So many people had so generously given their thoughtful advice. Race team owners, Spec builders, European marque specialty shops, PCA members, DE instructors, women’s marketing experts, factory racers, and, above all, my instructors. Who could give me ideas? Who would have connections with sponsors? No, not Pirelli…. I meant: Oil of Olay? Dove Soap? Heck, Tampax even!
I pondered my list, digging through old folders. There, I found an email from months back. Subject line: “I honestly thought you were a prankster” It read: “I have some contacts in the industry. Stay tuned.”
Deciding on three names, I dispatched my pleas that morning. Only ONE wrote back. Punky!
PAUSE! Backstory here…. eleven months ago, I was a new driver and blogger, when Swami befriended me. Like little kids drooling over baseball cards, we exchanged photos of exciting cars we each read about, marveling over specs. I’d sent him a new Fezza, coveting vast car-purchase allowances. He mentioned a friend who could afford it…but probably wouldn’t want one. “By the way, you might like to read her blog.” Describing her as a fascinating person, he sent me a link.
It turned out, “The Punk Rock Fairy Godmother of Feminism” (let’s call her Punky) has a remarkable story. A charismatic, pioneering woman, she began as newscaster in the ’70’s, when men unequivocally dominated the field. The first female anchor in Nashville (Oprah Winfrey followed second), Punky was at the cresting wave that revolutionized gender-biased media presence. Cutting-edge as a philanthropist today, women’s equality remains focal. Inspired, I followed her writing.
That morning, she wrote: “I want you to apply for a grant ASAP,” sending a link for Awesome Without Borders (http://awesomewithoutborders.org/), a grant organization which partners with The Harnisch Foundation (http://thehf.org/), of which she is president.
My clinic wasn’t quiet but, by squeezing my no-shows, I roughly blurbed and submitted my story. She pinged me: “I don’t see it in our system.” I had misfired to the wrong chapter. For the next hour, she shepherded me through submitting. Honestly? I was stunned. This assistance was a gift so rare, so unexpected, so validating. I wanted to express thanks, but she’d think I was flattering her. So I didn’t.
I was floored the next morning by a gut-wrenching virus. Missing clinic, I lay in bed, sucking frozen gatorade between WC trips. Ten hours later, as the bug relented, I logged onto my email where the accumulated clog of messages waited. I blinked and rubbed my eyes. I looked again.
It was from Awesome Without Borders: Congratulations! You are an AWB Grantee!
I couldn’t believe it! It mattered to someone!
Emotionally overwhelmed, physically drained, I sat sobbing at my keyboard. All I could muster were some raw, unedited words of thanks.
Indy wasn’t just a dream anymore!