When personal chef, and Mama’s Gotta Eat owner, Alyssia Birnbaum shared her experience of auditioning and participating in the NBC reality cooking show Food Fighters, we were clutching our sides in laughter. “Casting agents were clearly more interested in each person’s story rather than their food,” she recalled. “And I had a great story: Biracial infertile mom who adopts and wants more kids! When it was my turn, I laid it on thick!”
Communications Professional Valerie Stokes’ heart-wrenching story of her twin daughters’ micro preemie birth had many in the audience shedding tears. And when her daughters came home after more than three months in the NICU, we all rejoiced right along with her. “Today, I’m grateful, because it’s one more day with my girls,” Valerie shared. “Every day with them is the icing on the cake.”
Management consultant John Stanton’s wild tale of a Colorado-bound road trip with two of his sons enthralled the audience with both beauty and laughter. From “the breathtaking landscape of orange and yellow clouds against sunlit, rough mountains” to the tales of “cactus butt” or the moment John realized that he’d become exactly the dad his boys need, we were all in, relishing the ride.
With her detailed descriptions of cakes and cupcakes galore, freelance writer Penny Taylorhad many in the audience wishing for actual dessert! Spinning tales of her life’s ups and downs and the many sumptuous concoctions along the way, she concluded, “There’s something I will always insist on: There must be cake.”
With a story that spanned decades, Stan Cobb — dentist, painter, pastor, professor, and cowboy — shared his challenging tale of starting over at age 42. “I was jumping off a cliff and taking three people with me,” he said. With a Texas twang that filled the performance hall, Stan tied up our evening perfectly by reminding us all, “it is the people in our lives that matter most.”
Having suffered the ravages of meth addiction, Tracy Hawkins gave the audience a primer on why meth destroys teeth and how she once convinced herself to make her own new teeth out of fake fingernails. “I looked like a beaver on meth,” Tracy told us. In the end, though, thanks to Attitudes & Attire, Tracy ended up with one of the world’s best smiles.
OF veteranPeter Luby took audience members to Morocco, where he and his wife were once stationed in the Peace Corps, and things went awry. Peter hoped third-world suffering would build his character, but in the end, it was the act of having to look out for the woman he loved and getting her back home safely that did the trick.
Captivating the audience, former inner-city school teacher Anna Lassiter exhibited tremendous courage when she told the audience about the tragic loss of a college roommate and the guilt she later harbored over finally giving up on a student she couldn’t save. “Sometimes a tooth is so rotten, it has to be pulled to save the rest of the teeth,” she said.
When one of her baby teeth hung around into adulthood, author Yasmin Waring told audiences of how she nicknamed it Pippi — and blamed it for her own transgressions. After her father’s passing, however, Pippi finally went, too. “Baby tooth #T was replaced and officially crowned #29,” Yasmin told us. “She’s all grown up now. And so am I.”