So my oldest son left on a jet plane — He took off for Washington, D.C., where he is the nominee to represent California at the National Young Leaders Conference.

I’m so excited for him. The event sounds terrific. It was expensive, and the nominees were encouraged to showcase some of the leadership skills for which they were nominated and do some fundraising, so Ricky tried. He asked for sponsorships from friends and family (and man, our family and friends were amazing and supportive!), and then he had to go out to companies to do some fundraising, too, which was great experience for him.

Honda was very helpful, and several local establishments donated (including a hand-written note and donation from our favorite pizza place across the street that we literally run across the street for at least once a month!) One food place here in Orange County — Olamendi’s — is owned by a man named Carlos Olamendi who called Ricky personally and asked him about the conference. Carlos was very excited for Rick to go — he said he himself had been offered opportunities to go to D.C. and got to meet so many interesting people, and he was really happy to see another young local guy going. He invited Ricky into one of his restaurants and showed him all his pictures on the wall, then asked Rick if he’d like to leave a collection box and he’d encourage people to support Ricky’s efforts. I thought the whole thing was really cool of Carlos, and Ricky swung by the restaurant from time to time to see how his collection box was doing and got to know Carlos a little more each time.

It’s just so neat that there are so many people ready and willing to mentor and support.

Ricky’s grandpa lives in the D.C. area, so he’s having Rick over for a couple of nights and has also been very helpful and encouraging about the whole trip. He flew Rick there on his own dime and even flew Superman to join them for two days — so it was a “three-generations” trip for a little while.

Now Rick’s been shuttled to the conference, where he’ll hang out for another six days. Not only will he be learning how to navigate airports and airport transfers by himself, but at the conference he’s going to do some debating over political issues, meet the political press corps (have breakfast with them, I believe), visit the House of Representatives, attend several workshops, do some “if I were president” debates, and so forth. (We had to buy him a suit and several ties!) He’s going to be running all over D.C. this week, so if you’re there, look for him. : )

I’m so excited for him. This is right up his ally. …

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8 thoughts on “NYLC

  1. Wow, what an awesome experience! You must be so proud of him and how fun to watch learn to fund raise and promote himself! It is so nice to hear that even though Orange County is so big, that there is still “small” community living and mentoring going on – Carlos sounds like an incredible role model. This is an experience that is going to stick with Ricky for his lifetime!

  2. Thanks, Debi and Kristi! Yes, I am so proud of him!

    And good point, Debi, about OC being so big but still having some of that “small community” sensibility from time to time. Maybe that’s why it surprised me, but charmed me at the same time! I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that’s exactly right. …

  3. Aww, Chris – that is so sweet! That is why he is who he is….you both are terrific people!

  4. Jersey Girl is right. It was an awesome visit with them. When we picked them up at the airport last Sunday, it was cold and raining, but we took them on an accelerated tour of D.C. I felt like Clark Griswald, we did a drive-by in the rain of all the key spots in D.C. Then we went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and spent quite a bit of the night just talking and catching up. Even though it was cold and damp and overcast the next day, it didn’t deter us from doing a legit tour of the National Mall, and the monuments and going over to the White House and walking up to the Capitol . On Tuesday we ate lunch an old favorite place on the waterfront. and it was time to deliver Ricky to the Conference Center and then Chris(Superman) to the airport for the flight home. I thought we’d have time to sit and talk at the airport because we got there a little early, lucky for us we did. We were informed that his flight was delayed for over an hour and he wasn’t going to make his connection in Dallas. But they were able to find a seat on an earlier flight which was going to start boarding shortly. So I had to say bye to him there.
    Today we picked Ricky up at the Conference Center and we’ll have dinner here at home and watch some football on TV. Tomorrow we put him on the plane for California. It was really great having them here, and I/we are so proud of Ricky for being part of the NYLC. He tells tremendous stories of his experiences and new hopes/plans for his future. I won’t write them down, I think he should tell his parents of this in person. He is a great kid, no, make that young man. At the restaurant, I was so proud to have him and his dad there, I was telling everyone that they were my son and my grandson.

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