I have been lucky enough to be supported by Layne Beachley's foundation - 'Aim for the Stars' over the last two years in the lead up to the London Olympic Games. It really has taken a load off considering I had 147 days off work in 2011, and I just added the days this year - 150 days (at least Im consistent). However I think one of the best things about being an Aim For the Stars recipient is being involved in the "Layne Beachley" brand.
In 2011 I attended one of Layne's corporate functions with the Commonwealth Bank's 'Women in Focus'. At this function I attended as one of Layne's recipients and was fortunate enough to get on stage and tell a bit about my story. There was a highly anticipated raffle of Layne's surfboard - the one she used in her 8th attempt at World Champion...and I won! Some women at the function thought the raffle was rigged, others asked if I was going to sell it on eBay. Definitely not! I asked Layne how heavy (light) I would have to be to actually be able to (attempt to) use her surfboard, she stated "56 kilos". Well, at least it's a dream. The surfboard is a piece of art...until I get to 56kgs, hanging up for all to see.
Layne was announced as one of the Australian Olympic Team's Athlete Liason Officers in early 2012. I had the honour of introducing Layne to our Olympic Water Polo Squad for a "meet and greet" (and to boast that I have Layne's surfboard).
So the next time I saw Layne was at the Olympics. It was so much fun have her as our Athlete Liason Officer, but she really embraced the made-up position of Social Officer.
Here I am with Layne and our water polo Athlete Liason Officer Steve Waugh. They were joined by John Eales and Kieren Perkins in this role. It was awesome having access to such great sporting figures through the biggest sporting event in our lives! And they certainly made it alot of fun too!
After my arrival back home from the Olympics I was invited to Layne's annual Aim For the Stars Gala. This was preceded by a day with the current Aim For the Stars recipients, in a day full of fun. I arrived in Sydney on Friday morning and was thrown into a mentoring session with Kirsty and Davina from Seed Coaching. It was great to meet the other recipients in such a cool environment. Next up was a 'Brand YOU' session with Life's a Gym Founder and CEO, the super vibrant Nikki Fogden-Moore. We were prepped and practised to get on stage for the Gala that evening. But not before the Sydney College of Makeup Art made us camera ready with hair and makeup.
I arrived in style with some lovely friends I made on the Welcome Home Olympic Parades - Kim and Thomas from Sold Out Events. They actually were coordinating the parades whilst we were galavanting and having a blast - thanks boys! Thomas even let me pose with his georgeous pugalier puppy Senor Camambert, such a cutie...both of them!
Navy Diver and shark attack victim Paul de Gelder was the guest speaker. He had us all enthralled with his story, and was happy to take a few happy snaps afterwards (great taste in pose if I do say so myself). And the hostest with the mostest - Layne Beachley with her main man, the one and only INXS band member Kirk Pengilly...yep, hanging with rock gods. Oh, and Jess Watson (solo sailor extraordinair) made the cut for this shot too :)
Layne invited me to speak on stage about my Olympic experience, and how I was involved with Layne over in London. When I got off stage I was introduced to a fellow "Stinger". Not an Aussie Stinger, but a Sydney Stinger. Justin Nel explained to me that he was the president of the Sydney Stingers - the gay men's water polo team. Of course me and my teammates have heard of the Sydney Stingers, due to some naming rights issues. It was lovely to meet Justin, and as we parted he asked if I would be interested in leading the Sydney Stingers in next years Sydney Mardis Gras! Would I ever - my first Mardis Gras experience could be on a float...cant wait! My first question to Justin however was what would I be wearing? His response still fresh in my mind "less is more"...oh dear :)
It has been great to be involved with Layne's foundation, and just to be involved with Layne herself, as a super star (and a normal sheila). I have made many people jealous with my connection with surfings greatest - Layne Beachley!
Thanks Layne :)