Thank You AADOM — Kickoff Recap 2019

This is the first in a series of posts recapping my first (but most certainly not my last!) AADOM experience.

"Here, you do not shake hands. You hug."

This was the advice I received on Wednesday from Alex Nudel, or simply "Nudel" as he's known around the office (and apparently everywhere in the dental world). As it turned out, Nudel really knows his audience. By Saturday night, I was hugging people who just 72 hours prior I never knew existed in this world. There are no strangers at AADOM.

Feeding Children Everywhere

Our first night. Fresh off the plane and ready for Lord knows what, I checked in, changed into my uniform for the weekend (blue RevenueWell t-shirt and black Chuck Taylors). Truth be told, I wasn't too excited about this pre-conference event: a rally for the charity Feeding Children Everywhere. What I really wanted was to float around in Trip Advisor's No. 1-rated pool, collect my thoughts, and get ready for the upcoming few days. As I've found is common in life, I was wrong and better off for it.

The event was beyond words.

Held in a pavilion tent below the main ballroom and overlooking the golf course, the location was perfect for a warm Florida evening. Inside the tent, removable wooden floors lended themselves to what would be a raucous atmosphere.

Ten to fifteen tables housed boxes of deconstructed jambalaya, baggies, scales, and packing goodies. I surveyed the crowd, took a few pictures for folks, hugged the RevenueWell crew, and casually waited for the crowd to trickle in.

And then, out of nowhere, music cut through the din of chatter. The floors were shaking from the bass. Somebody had decided to pump up the crowd and kick up the jams. Looking back, I think it was Nudel. Next thing I know, my coworker Jeff is circling a makeshift dance floor, pulling anyone in a 30-foot radius onto it.

Cupid Shuffle. Cha-Cha Slide. Man! I Feel Like a Woman.

It was line dance central with Jeff as the ringleader. Later in the weekend I told him his "I Am ..." should be "Nimble." He was on it. After the impromptu dance party it was time for the actual event.

Here, you do not shake hands. You hug

Hairnets on. Teams divvied up. Hands sanitized. Directions given. Competitive juices flowing. An army of volunteers buoyed by positivity were ready to help feed children around the world. I can't remember the time, but I remember the moment everything came into focus. My coworker Jena and I were posted up on our philanthropic assembly line, when the wonderful woman across from us said, "Last year was my first year; I did the 'I Am ...' campaign; thank you for hosting."

Jena looked at our team member's name and, lo and behold, knew somebody by the exact same name. Next thing I know, they're sharing their respective life stories. It was kismet.

As for me, the team member to my right let me know that she uses RevenueWell and planned on stopping by our booth the next day to recommend a friend. I was just happy she talked with me. She was the alpha of our team, having done this event in the past, and coached me up every time I spaced out and forgot to add salt (literally the easiest of all the ingredients) to the bag. Once we got past my bagging deficiencies, we connected on life up in the Chesapeake — she lives in Maryland; I went to grad school in Baltimore.

We danced. We hollered ... We had fun!

True to her word, she came by the booth the next day and we were able to talk a little more. She's just a wonderful person who's great at her job: thorough, a great coach, and a clear communicator. In maybe 20 minutes of conversation, I learned a lot. Had it not been for the event we may have never met. Sometimes life is crazy that way.

We bagged. We danced. We hollered. Cowbells clanged like it was a Mississippi State football game. The local news profiled the event. Everyone smiled for the camera. We created meals for over 40,000 people in under 90 minutes — a number that still doesn't seem possible. And we had fun! Time to celebrate with some pictures.

First, hairnets on. Next, flinging hairnets like it was graduation. Finally, a final celebration photo.

We made our way up to the bar area. As people kept flooding the lobby, the long day of travel caught up with me. Had we really only been in Orlando for six hours? The scope of AADOM was starting to hit me.

"I get it," I thought to myself. Looking back, I didn't. At least not yet. But I'd get there. Thursday was coming up fast. Time to recharge the batteries for everything that lay ahead.

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