Thursday, June 26, 2014

How I Got To Meet Shaun White, Bad Things, and Sarah Barthel

Like most people I know, I have a bucket list... things I want to do before I die. When you have a chronic illness, it makes it even more important to have a list and try and complete those things as early as possible. I'm pretty sure that 90% of my Cystic Fibrosis/transplant friends have some sort of bucket list!

I was able to cross one of the things on my bucket list off on June 14 when my daughter graduated high school. Statistically speaking, I shouldn't have been there to see that. Not only the statistics that come along with Cystic Fibrosis but also the ones that come along with having had a double lung transplant.. you know... only 50% of those live five years after transplant and only 30% live ten years. I'll be 13 years out this coming November. I'm truly blessed and in awe of life and the things that I'm still able to do and accomplish!

For those of you who know me well (or even those who are only acquaintances of mine), you know that I adore Shaun White. I'm an extreme sports fanatic, and it doesn't get any better than Shaun White. Plus, I've always known he's a good guy with a big heart. What he can do on a snowboard (going 24 ft off the backside of the halfpipe and mastering all that he has in height and difficulty) is so amazing to watch. He lets his fans experience it with him (yay GoPro), so we can all have that same feeling of accomplishment and see his dedication and hard work!

So, of COURSE, one of the top things on my bucket list was to MEET SHAUN WHITE! I honestly never thought it would happen. You don't think things like that will happen to YOU! It's just inconceivable to think that someone with so much fame and so many fans will make the time for you. It's a dream, not a reality.

Having said that, I set out to make that a reality when I bought tickets to see Bad Things open for Phantogram at The Fillmore in Charlotte on June 25, 2014. I did a little begging on social media for some backstage passes, and although I didn't get any responses, I still had hopes that somehow, someway, I would get to not only meet Shaun but all of the wonderful members of Bad Things (which has become my favorite band since buying their album in January!) Here's a video of one of my favorite songs of theirs Caught Inside by Bad Things!

My daughter kind of reluctantly went with me to the concert. She had listened to Bad Things with me and had heard one song from Phantogram that she liked, but she was still not feeling it. She's such a sweetheart, and she knew just how much this meant to me, so she went, and she sat in the heat with me without complaint 1 1/2 hours before doors opened, so that we could be right up front against the stage.

Had we gotten there five minutes later, we wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet Sarah Barthel of Phantogram. She saw about ten of us sitting outside in 90 degree weather under big umbrellas, so she came outside to thank us and get selfies with us. We were all flabbergasted at how down to earth and nice she is!!! She is truly a beautiful person inside and out!!! She's a doll as you can see here!!!

Me, my daughter, and Sarah

Since Casey and I had VIP tickets, and we were the first ones in the VIP line, we got to go in first. I knew exactly where Shaun stands onstage, so we were at the front, right in front of where he plays! We had to wait another dreadfully, anticipatory long hour before Bad Things finally came out. I literally got dizzy when they did. I'll blame it on the lights and sound, but I'm pretty sure it was because THE Shaun White was standing right in front of me... almost close enough to touch! They were awesome! Their frontman Davis LeDuke is so funny, and he really gets into the music. He's an entertainer for sure. Here are some pics from the concert (the best I could do with a cell phone). 

Lena (pronounced Lee-nah) Zawaideh, drummer and vocalist

Davis LeDuke, lead vocalist and frontman with Anthony Sanudo, guitarist

*cough, cough* Shaun White, lead guitarist

Phantogram came on after Bad Things, and WOW, they blew it away! They gave an awesome performance, and Sarah has SO much energy onstage. I'm not sure how she does it. She's adorable though and can sing.. man, that girl can sing. Josh Carter is the other vocalist, and he has an amazing voice also. They moved around a lot, so it was hard to get any good pictures of them, but here is what I got! 

Sarah Barthel, vocalist and keyboardist

Josh Carter, vocalist and guitarist with Sarah in the background

SO.. how did I get to meet the members of Bad Things? Casey was exhausted. She had stayed up most of the night before, and someone had spilled beer all over her shoes at the concert.. yeah, no fun!!! We kind of just hung around the stage watching them take everything down, and then I asked her if it was ok to go buy some merchandise. She said yes, so we went to the table, and the entire band of Bad Things was there selling CDs and shirts. Well, everyone except for Shaun. He really likes to hang back and not take the spotlight away from the other band members, and I think that's so cool of him!!! 

Casey and I both bought shirts, and we talked to Lena, Davis (who had a cold and was nice enough to wear a mask because of it), Anthony, and Jared (bassist of the band). They were all so nice and Davis actually cropped Casey's top for her that she bought. It's quite crooked, but looks really cute!!! We were all laughing and having a good time. Here are some pics from meeting them. 

Lena and me

Me and Jared Palomar, bassist 

There weren't many people left in the venue at this point, so as I was talking to Jared, I did something that I've never done before in my life.. I pulled the "sick card". Now all of us with CF, or other chronic illnesses HATE to pull the sick card. We have to use that card enough when having to turn down engagements with friends or other fun things because we feel so bad (had the concert been two nights before, I wouldn't have gone because of issues I was having), and we don't want our lives revolving around it. But I also know that any infection or chronic rejection could take my life in a flash, and I had to seize this moment!!! I simply told Jared that I had a chronic illness and that meeting Shaun was on my bucket list. I asked if he was around. He SO eagerly went to find him. I still didn't have high hopes that he would come out from backstage, but at least it seemed "likely" that I might get to meet my idol! 

We waited about five minutes, and then across the room, I see Shaun coming out with Jared. I looked at Casey, eyes wide open, and I think I smiled one of the biggest smiles of my life. She asked if I was ok. I said "yeah, I think so". Of course the few girls that were still in the venue and spotted him stopped him along the way, and I just waited ever-so-unpatiently until Jared came over and told Casey and me to come with him. 

After the girls stopped fawning over Shaun (heehee), Jared grabbed him, pointed my way, and said "this is Christy". Shaun gave me the biggest hug!!! I just put my hands in my face and shook my head. All intelligent thought was lost!!! I had so many things I wanted to say to him, but what came out of my mouth was "I've watched all of your stuff"! Seriously? I've watched all of your stuff? What does that mean? I felt like a giddy school girl! He laughed and then we got a few pics. Before we took a pic, he took his beanie off and ran his fingers through his hair. I knew he was sweaty from being onstage, so I told him that I liked the beanie, and I thought it would be cool for the photos. He said, "really? ok!" 

We talked about a few more things that I can't remember and then I thanked Jared, Anthony, and Shaun, and we left. My moment to tell him how awesome his sportsmanship was at Sochi, how I KNOW he's perfected the triple on the halfpipe (but yet to let his fans know), how I watch every interview he's in, how I never miss the opportunity to watch any competition he's in, etc, etc, etc was lost. That was it. It was still one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and marking that moment off of my bucket list was beyond anything I ever imagined! 

My daughter Casey, Shaun, and me

Shaun and me right after the biggest hug!

Today, the feeling about the experience is bittersweet! I've seen him, hugged him, talked to him, so I don't have to strive for that anymore. I can move on to the next item on my list..... like watching Shaun snowboard. :) 

PS.... Phantogram shared this pic on all of their social media of Sarah and us waiting outside in the heat. So awesome! Casey and I are on the left. I'm in a similar outfit as Sarah! :)