Sunday, November 22, 2009
I had a brush with celebrity earlier this month - I was thrilled to be able to meet actress and animal advocate Betty White (yes, that Betty White - from the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls, Boston Legal and The Proposal).
Here's the back story: I've been drawing animals in pen & ink on ostrich eggs for many years, since I worked at the Sacramento Zoo as the Volunteer/Events Coordinator in the 80's. These eggs are presented as awards at Zoo events, offered as silent auction items and gifted to major Zoo donors and supporters. I'm very fortunate to have maintained a relationship with the Zoo staff and they commission at least a dozen eggs from me each year. By last count, that's well over 200 eggs that I've "inked".
I was honored when my Zoo friends commissioned an egg as a gift for Betty as a "thank you" for being the featured guest at a fund-raiser for the new new "Tall Wonders" giraffe habitat expansion project. Just knowing that a piece of my art would be in her collection was exciting enough, but then I was invited to the event too! Below is the egg, with a giraffe drawing, of course.
When the egg was presented to Betty, I was standing on the other side of the room watching with butterflies in my stomach. I honestly got chills when the Zoological Society's board president handed the egg to her and she seemed truly touched an happy to receive the gift. She then sat down with it clutched to her chest for a little while.
It was a wonderful evening and I felt like I was part of the staff again - I hung out with a couple of Zoo gals at the raffle table, chatted with folks I'd worked with ages ago and got up close and personal with a couple of critters. Event attendees were also able to get a sneak preview of the new giraffe habitat. As for Betty, she was funny, gracious and sweet - an amazing woman and she admitted during the Q & A session on stage that she was 87. I sure hope I can be that spry and sharp when I'm her age!
There wasn't much time to have a conversation with her, but thanks to Valorie Schneider (the current Volunteer Coordinator) and Mary Healy (Zoo Director), I was able to have two photos taken with Betty and chat with her a little bit. I also got her autograph on my name tag.
Yes, I was fairly floating when I left the event and walked back to my car that night and I suspect I had a grin on my face the entire drive home!