Right before Thanksgiving, I was asked to visit Australia to review the operations at our distributor, Awesome Playgrounds. Australians, commonly referred to as Aussies (pronounced Ozzies), have logically evolved calling their beloved country OZ. Having never been to OZ, I was thrilled about the journey that lied ahead. Really, who wouldn’t be? Although I would have to miss Thanksgiving with the family, it was totally worth it just to see a Koala eat a “gum tree.” Aside from a grueling work schedule which consisted of full time hours in the US and OZ, I was able to make time for a bit of fun. I saw kangaroos, huge stingrays (please see the amazing pictures), dingoes (which look like small boarder collies, and I doubt they ate anyone’s baby), wombats, platypus (which don’t have purple “beaks” despite what claims Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes may re-imagine), and visited some gorgeous country side (that did have a winery or two).
But the most rewarding thing happened on my last day in Melbourne. Brooke, one of the owners at Awesome Playgrounds, asked me to help her at a charity event for special needs children put on by Variety in Australia (the same charity that sponsors the car race across the Australian continent). Aside from seeing the kangaroos, sharks, and great whites, today was easily my best day here. The nature of our product lends itself to participating in a lot of children’s’ events, but this one was a particularly unique experience. To lift a child out of her wheel chair so she could bounce on a trampoline that I had installed was a real first. Today the line to jump on one of the best trampolines on the planet, an Alley Oop, was remarkably longer than the lines for the other more flashy items around us.
I also had the distinct honor of donating a DoubleBounce to a family whose daughter Stevie has cystic fibrosis. At 4 years old, she taught me how to pet a crocodile (Charlie, he seemed like a nice bloke but I am ok us not meeting again) and –as the definition of pure charity-she had recently given her own trampoline to a family who couldn’t afford one. She is absolutely a most special girl, who I might add can really pose for a picture! I look forward to seeing them all again when I come back “down under” in August.
Thank you to Awesome, especially Brooke, who shuttled me around Victoria to meet dealers, see some really cool creatures, and share a meal or five, and thank you to Stevie who reminded me why I love where I work. My visit to the land of OZ was a treat over and beyond a rainbow.