A Week to Remember: An Account of my experience as a L’Oréal Woman of Worth
Today I am thankful for all the wonderful support I received during the Women of Worth Campaign. From the outset, being chosen as one the final 10 L’Oreal Women of Worth from 6,200 entries was a great honor. Thank you to everyone who voted and shared and encouraged others to vote – I know many of you worked hard to get those votes in and for that I am very grateful. In doing so, you also helped educate tens of thousands of people about sepsis, which is of course what this is all about.
Last week, the ten honorees gathered in New York City for a week of meetings, seminars and celebration. It was an extraordinary experience from the first day when all the honorees first met to the last day when we said goodbye…for now. L’Oreal believes that “every woman is worth it” and they embody this principle through the Women of Worth campaign and honoring and supporting women who they believe are making a difference in their communities. And boy do they support!
We spent the first half-day at a working breakfast at the L’Oreal Headquarters with the President of L’Oreal and her senior staff. In an emotional few hours, we each spoke about our causes. There were many heartbreaking stories shared but also an empathy and shared aspiration from each individual in the room to achieve success which made it one of the most inspiring meetings I have ever attended.
Later, it was a night of glitter and excitement as the Women of Worth Gala was held at the Pierre Hotel. Each honoree was paired with a celebrity – I was with Aimee Mullins, actress, athlete and model, and her husband, Homeland’s Rupert Friend.
Blake Lively was there, along with Diane Keaton, Andie McDowell, Karlie Kloss, Eva Longeria, Brooke Baldwin, Arianna Huffington and Tamron Hall, among others. Aimee introduced me on stage and spoke eloquently of sepsis, my work, and Rory. They showed a four-minute film clip that told my story and introduced the Foundation and then I gave a five-minute speech. As I spoke of Rory, the ballroom, packed with over 300 people from media, entertainment and business, was so quiet one could have heard a pin drop. We made some wonderful connections that night and received numerous pledges of support that give us great hope for the future of our mission.
The following day we attended a Women of Worth Summit at Bloomberg Media. I’ve got to say I think I learned so much that day that I thought my head was going to burst! There were several workshops and panel discussions ranging from “The Donor Dating Game” to a fundraising workshop to “The Power of Partnerships: Working with Local Government” and a wonderful talk on “The Power of Storytelling” as well as one-on-one interviews and talks by senior Bloomberg staff and other successful businesswomen.
In the afternoon it was onwards to Facebook Headquarters where we were introduced to the fundraising team from Facebook on the West Coast. With their help we set up a private group for us (Women of Worth Honorees) online so we can all stay in touch and support each other in the months and years ahead.
All in all it was a powerful couple of days – truly, I believe, a once in a life experience. I received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, signed by Barack Obama, together with a Points Of Light Award, and L’Oreal produced a powerful video our Foundation’s mission that I know will have a long-lasting effect on all those who viewed it.
Not many people get the opportunity to learn and be supported in the profound way that I have over the past week. I am deeply grateful to all those who contributed to this journey in big ways and small. The knowledge I have gained, the connections made, the supporters we have recruited make me feel energized and inspired for what lies ahead and confident that our mission – to honor our son by ensuring that no more lives are lost needlessly to this preventable, treatable condition – will be realized. Thank you.