December 12, 201d5
The big day. Finally. So much planning and preparation and stress… but I think we’re ready to break a world record!!!
I was so excited to start this day and bring awareness to the women of Saudi and empower them… and help them break a world record!
I checked into Princess Noura University Sports Complex by 0800 with all my First Aid Team… A team of nurses and doctors from the university hospital would be joining us later in the day.
The day started out gorgeous (ended beautifully also!). The winter sun was out… warming us gently as the temperature wasn’t much above 10 degrees.
First thing, we signed in, got our 10KSA sweaters… and then went to the First Aid center and attempted to organize first aid supplies… which we didn’t have and wouldn’t have for hours yet until the University Hospital opened up and our physician and her team of nurses would bring them. I was seriously stressing that we wouldn’t get the first aid supplies and I was praying we wouldn’t have any emergencies before supplies arrived, and hopefully no emergencies at all! but with 10,000+ women scheduled to arrive, it seemed unlikely that would we end the day without any issues.
Mid-morning we put all our planning on hold to meet together with all the other volunteers (at least 2000 women!!) for an beautiful message from our fearless leader Princess Reema. So excited to start the event and start seeing people come around!)
Much of the morning and early afternoon was spent just wandering around the facility before the event actually started… checking out all the displays and booths and the various areas. There an Awareness Zone (where all the booths on health and wellness were set up), Nutrition (all the food… some of it was seriously gourmet!!!), Active (basically a full on gym set up with yoga center, spin class, zumba/dance classes, and active wear/food products, etc!), and finally the Fun Zone where Luxury Events had set up a photobooth, a carnival, clothes/artsy things to purchase, as well as a beautiful group painting women could participate in… it was lovely.
My favorite place was the Active Zone… the decoration was incredibly well done. And there was constantly music and laughter coming from within the zone as women participated in the various fitness classes…
At one point late in the afternoon when I actually had time to walk around and enjoy everything, the sun was setting over the Active zone and the sun shining through all the gauze and streamers and wooden supports… it was gorgeous!
I spent the whole day, from 0800 to nearly 2400 rapidly walking from one end of the sports complex to the other. Our main First Aid center was in the sports complex building at the far end, and completely at the other end of the complex was the Stadium where we had our main first aid outpost.
Finally… the most important part of the event… the highlight of the whole day.. the formation of the Worlds Largest Human Health Awareness ribbon. Around 7pm, women started lining up to be counted to go into the stadium to form the ribbon. Hundreds of volunteers had been recruited and trained to help with ribbon formation… they’d been scurrying around for hours getting organized… but trying to organize roughly 10,000 women is a monumental task! But they did so well!! The first aid volunteers joined all the women in the stadium, helping the other volunteers get the women organized in the ribbon, as well as being accessible in case of emergency.
There was beautiful inspirational music playing and the 10KSA theme song…
All the women were given pink tarha’s to wear to cover their heads… the Tarhas were beautiful with gorgeous Saudi themed prints on the ends… and the pink was a gorgeous fuschia color!!
I joined the ribbon also just before the final count… standing there with hopefully 10,000 women, united in anticipation… united in the uniqueness of our position in Saudi Arabia and the significance of this day and this moment for women… united in support of one another to raise awareness for a disease that devastates us all in some way… filled with hope…
Finally, the most inspirational moment of the day… the representative from Guiness World Records went on stage and presented Princess Reema and the women of Saudi Arabia with… the new world record!!!! 8,264 participants… the worlds largest human health awareness ribbon. And it was all women. All women living in Saudi Arabia… at this moment crushing the stereotype of a country known for its repression of women… a country filled with so many of the strongest and most ambitious and dedicated and inspirational women I’ve ever met.
To be part of that moment… standing there with 8,264 women celebrating our strength and celebrating women coming together to empower each other and raise awareness about a horrific disease that impacts every single one of us in some way. My heart was so full. These women are incredible. And I am so blessed to have been a part of this day… and to see into their lives in this country…
Of all the opportuniities I’ve had in Saudi Arabia and the amazing experiences… this one is by far the best. I’ll never forget how it felt to stand there with all those women… I’ll never forget the beautiful women who organized the event and how they inspired me with their courage and strength… We are blessed. Truely blessed.