Those were just a few of the phrases swirling through Bradenton Auditorium last night as the 2013 Golden Herald nominees took to the stage before 2,000 friends, relatives, teachers, administrators, media, judges, volunteers... you name it.
Somehow this annual event never fails to inspire everyone as, once again, we witness how many great young people make up Manatee County. For 36 years, the Bradenton Herald has sponsored the Golden Heralds to recognize the top high school seniors here. I've been lucky enough to join for 14 years now, as a judge, a host, a fan. Each time -- wow. Reporter Richard Dymond and photographer Grant Jefferies covered this year's ceremony, capturing the optimistic joy of these kids. Herald Marketing Director Jill McGarry pulled off the amazing job of organizing 99.9 percent of the evening, too -- hats off to you, Jill.
It's always so difficult to pick just two winners in each category, or to single out one success story from all 142 nominees. That room overflowed with 142 success stories last night. But Rich certainly picked one of the most moving in Alexandria Priebe, who started her night with a stunning kickoff rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and ended it dedicating her Golden Herald victory in music to her mother, Denise "Dee" Priebe, who is battling two serious tumors.
"My mother is my inspiration," said Alexandria, a member of Music Members Vocal Ensemble, National Honor Society, American Sign Language Club and captain of Bayshore's color guard.
Alexandria, you are our inspiration. You and all the other Golden Herald nominees, year after year.
|Alexandria, her mom Denise, and her dad Doug|
|Hamming it up for the iPhones|
|Reporter Rich Dymond, right, interviewing the Priebe family|