Sunday, May 08, 2016

Smiles Here and Many To Go With Nyle DiMarco

On May 6, 2016, a Suitcase Party held by Veditz Center at Forney Museum of Transportation had about over 200 people as they got to meet Nyle DiMarco. When my mom, AnnaMarie, our friend, Jeff and I got to the party, we immediately walked straight to see Nyle. There was a photo op where we got our pictures professionally taken by Lindsey Gale Higginbotham. Seeing Nyle standing right there, I was feeling like a crazed teenage girl in a Beatles concert or something. Not that I was at the concert before or even born at that time, but recalling how these fans had expressed with excitement when seeing them was how I felt.
 Photo description: Nyle DiMarco, wearing white shirt and gray pants, standing in front of the end of a red caboose showing a variety of natural poses in this gif. 

Of course, there was a long line of people waiting for their turn to get their pictures taken. When I got my turn, I quickly introduced myself and applauded him for his Nyle DiMarco Foundation, his involvement in LEAD-K, and his outstanding performances in Dancing With The Stars and America's Next Top Model. I briefly explained about the history on how Deaf social media prompted us to have a discourse back in 2006 starting with the Unity of Gallaudet topic. Eventually, it shifted the attention to our (bloggers/vloggers) concerns on how Deaf children were language deprived and denied to ASL leading to the formation of the Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC). DBC played a crucial role in pushing Deaf organizations to wake them up about the need to fight in order to ensure Deaf babies and children to have 100% language access. We'd envisioned the establishment of ASL resources for parents with Deaf children, having Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) adopting the recognition and program to inform parents about the benefits of ASL/bilingual approach and to make this happen, we need a Deaf celebrity to pave the way. So I told him, "There you are!" 

He smiled bringing me even more smiles!
Photo description: Barb Wingfield, a white woman with dark brown hair wearing a grey, gold, silver and white Z-patterned short-sleeved dress, showing her back facing Nyle DiMarco who is standing in front of her. 

Yes, it was a heart-fluttering moment making it challenging to get my thoughts together in less than a minute Regardless, I got to smile with Nyle, and took snapshots with him and my mom. We'd have to wait for the professional photos to come out, but we were fortunate to take welfies!
Barbara Wingfield (left), Nyle DiMarco (middle), AnnaMarie Savino (blond-haired woman with brown eyes and purple sparkling shirt on the right).
Barbara Wingfield smiling with Nyle DiMarco.

In this video, you will see Nyle's speech. It is very touching and thoughtful! (transcript available below). 
Video Transcript: My family and my good friends always tell me that I get the credit. Yes, I get the credit but sometimes I don’t feel it is not enough to give myself credit. I’d rather to give you credit because one year ago, I lived a “normal” life. One year ago, I wanted to teach math. Just one year ago! Now, one year later, today my path is completely different. The reason why, my involvement with ANTM (America’s Next Top Model) but with your support is what they are interested. Also, your support was the reason why I was able to get involved with the DWTS (Dancing With The Stars).  They never seen a Deaf person received that kind of support.  Deaf children related topics are hot today because of you that you keep on sharing with your support in social media and it has been very visual. It is truly awesome!

Also, in the very same year, with your support, it allows me to give it back where I can invest in return. To support LEAD-K for Deaf children is crucial. I am using “ecosystem” that I invest in Deaf-owned companies, and in Deaf people and you invest back to me that we correlate. Now where I am, it is on a different level wow! However, I am able to pull you up too and that is a good teamwork! This is what community really means.

Now, I think this is what George Veditz would want to see and that is why we will have this center.  I think it parallels to my career that in a way, this center is to provide full resources. As for your needs, this center will have it. What I think is the same to what Veditz thinks that we wanted to provide that you will have a better future, your thriving business, your visions, and/or getting quality services.  It starts with the Deaf community that I invest within and they invest back to me always.  (Nyle raising “Thumbs Up!”) Thank you! Enjoy your night!

(end of transcript)

See what I mean on how touching his speech was?! He truly rocks! He is much more attractive in that sense rather than how attractive he looks. After his inspiring speech, we go to celebrate Nyle DiMarco's birthday and it was thoughtful of the Veditz Center Suitcase Party committee to celebrate his birthday and give him presents. See video and transcript below. 
Video transcript: On the stage, Nyle DiMarco, dressed in white dress shirt and gray pants standing next to a white woman in a black dress, Rachel Boll along with her committee said, “We are going to sing Happy Birthday! On the count of 3, ready? 1, 2,3: Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! (Nyle is smiling from ear to ear!) Happy Birthday Dear Nyle! (people hands waving) Nyle: Thank you! Thank you!

Rachel Boll: Thank you for coming! Here is the birthday gift. (handing the green wrapped gift to Nyle)

Nyle: Should I open it now?

Rachel: Open it up!

Nyle opening a gift and it shows a Bear Keychain then a grey T-shirt with Colorado icon on it. 

Nyle: Thank you! ILY! Thank you!

(end of transcript)

After the celebration, we got to mingle then indulged some delicious mini-desserts. Some people including Jeff wanted to take a picture with Nyle but he didn't want to take it alone so my mom and I gladly volunteered to join him. (photo not available). Took a selfie with Nyle in the background for the heck of it.
Photo description: Barbara Wingfield looking close to the front of the picture with Nyle standing in the background taking photos with two women; one dressed in a black dress and another in a blue dress.

There were about five different drawing getaway prizes for those who brought suitcases that they got generous number of tickets and put these in drawing boxes of their choice. Nyle got to pick three tickets that three individuals come up and guess the price. Whomever guessed the closest price would win one of the getaway packages. 
Photo description:  Nyle holding a getaway poster and Rachel, white woman with short light brown hair in black dress with black sandal wedgies explains what is included.

    Photo description: Nyle's hand in the blue box filled with tickets.

One of Nyle's selected tickets was so close to my number, drats! The selected number was 273 while mine was 271, oh well! 
Photo description: Nyle signing "2"

Now, the next most exciting part of the party was bidding for breakfast with Nyle! When Rachel Boll announced the bid, I knew my mother would be a very active participant. She is truly a hard core fan of Nyle, and she has been inspired by Nyle since she shared something in common (will explain later in this blog). This is not an everyday opportunity for the Deaf to feel this way about a celebrity who is Deaf and considered a perfect icon for all of us. See video and transcript below.
Video Transcript: Nyle: I want to thank you for inviting me here. It is a nice break from Los Angles as it was an escape for me. It is nice for me to connect with the Deaf community. In L.A., I’ve been so busy for two months and I haven’t interacted as much as I’ve been focusing so much on dancing. It is really nice to get out. Thank you! Audience hands waving) Thank you, thank you! So you are ready? We have one more..

Rachel: Yes! One more special live auction! Whoa, my shoulders have been tapped so frequently that people wanted to know what, what? “Tell me please!” No, need to wait and be patient. (rubbing her hands) Ready? The live auction is what? Tomorrow morning, where? Union Station, you know, Union Station? It is at a restaurant called the Snooze known as a breakfast place. You can visualize a bit more so need a hint? Alright, three lucky people can bid together for having breakfast tomorrow morning (pointing her arms to Nyle) with Nyle!

Nyle: Before I fly!

Rachel: at 6…(someone asked Rachel a question) Ha, breakfast includes bed? (putting her arms on her waist)

Nyle: Oh breakfast in bed, darn!

Rachel: Hmm, maybe I should call Snoose to ask them to add a bed in the restaurant!

Nyle: (reaching out his hand) Wanna? Wanna? Before I fly tomorrow morning, you can have breakfast with me!

Rachel: From 6:30 to 8 a.m. sharp!  

Nyle to someone in the audience: At Snooze.

Rachel: So open bid starts at 100 dollars. Before we start, breakfast is included, full breakfast that covers for four people including Nyle.  Right now, you have two minutes to discuss with each other with three friends or you can bid independently. Either three together or self bidding. Whoever offers the highest bid tonight will win to have breakfast with Nyle tomorrow morning from 6:30 A.M. to 8:00. That’s it. Ready?

Nyle: I will be flying at 10 tomorrow morning.

Rachel: Got to be punctual! Ready? Ready?

When Rachel signed $100, my mom, Anna Marie Savino, immediately bidded $500 giving a shock to the audience. It wasn’t over…

Title caption: The bid went on and on from $100 to $900! And it is sold to….

Rachel: $900! Pointing to Anna Marie Savino.

A blond-haired woman raising her arms and laughing sigining ILY. People were cheering for her and gave her a high five.

Nyle giving her a congratulations sign.

Video recording a bit distorted due to the excitement by the videographer, me, Barbara.

Joette Paulone came up to Anna Marie SAvino and she shows a facial expression of disbelief. Joette touched her hair and pulled it back and said, “Wow!”

Anna Marie: I know!

Joette putting her hands on her nose.

Anna Marie: (laughing) F-U-N!  900 dollars, so what (flipping her hand on her chin; Italian style gesture)

Joette: So what! Money is nothing! It's just money!

Anna Marie reaching out for her credit card while Joette puts her hand on her chin. Anna Marie was turning her head and flickering her tongue saying oooohhhh, oooohhhh.

Joette was looking at her stunned and said: You are proud of you! (laughing)

Title caption: The winner, who is my mother, said, “I would rather spend $900 over Nyle DiMarco than on junk. Nyle is not a junk.”
My mom, a friend of ours, Jeff and I were slotted to meet Nyle DiMarco for breakfast on the next day!

Jeff: (caption on the top says Jeff Beardsley, one of the three lucky participants will see and chat with Nyle tomorrow!) Three of us?! Three of us?! No, no, serious? Yes, three of us! Oh, W-O-W!

(end of transcript)

We left the party close to midnight and I regretted having some drinks since I wanted to be alert for tomorrow. Had I known I were to have breakfast with Nyle, I wouldn't even drink! With only four hours of sleep, we got up at 5 a.m. that morning to get ready to met Nyle at 6:30 a.m. at the Union Station in downtown. The moment I saw him, he instantly became my coffee giving me a "caffeine fix"! Actually, I barely touched my food and didn't even drink coffee thanks to being nauseous from last night's drinks and my mom's driving. I mean how could you think about food and eat while looking at Nyle anyway.

We sat down and chatted for an hour and half getting to know each other, and we discussed how we had ties with his family, and that we share similar close family friends. It was fun to see his expression when telling him that his mother and his uncles came to the party hosted by my Deaf sister, Susan, way back when I was 15. This is what it strikes me again and again, we, the Deaf, are considered an ethnic group, not by blood, but having shared connections from family to family, friend to friend and generation to generation as we are no stranger to each other. We always know who we are and where we come from. It is really good to be Deaf and that is the beauty of culture!

AnnaMarie got to share her experience with Nyle when she was involved in American Bandstand featuring Dick Clark that appeared in TV on every Friday night back in the late 50's when she was 16 years old. She is a profoundly Deaf person with no hearing at all just like Nyle, and she was able to dance well (we will make a vlog about her involvement in American Bandstand soon). In one of the pictures, you can see Nyle's fascination when showing him a video clip of the American Bandstand knowing there was a Deaf person and her Deaf friend who made TV appearances in a popular dance show. They were actually the first Deaf people appearing in a dance show. Also, she had shared him about her Deaf husband being offered as a model in NYC while working in a construction company. See my vlog here.
Video transcript: (Setting) In a restaurant with a background of yellow wall and orange rounded booth.

AnnaMarie on the left (black Harley Davidson black shirt) with Nyle DiMarco sitting next to her (dressed in grey shirt with light green thin jacket)

AnnaMarie: I already said that and why he said that! He pronounced my name “Tomato” and my parents told me that I spoke it right and he was wrong. He said tomato and he didn’t know how to pronounce my name. (Nyle was smiling).  So the next following week, I came back to Dick Clark and told him that he was wrong ,  and my name is not Tomato, it’s Tomeo.  He said alright next time you say your name so when I went in the line, I spoke my name and my parents said it was perfect.  Imagine that? 

Nyle reacted by flickering his hand and shook his head with a big smile.

(end of transcript)

Photo description: AnnaMarie, sitting on the left and Nyle on the right with several people sitting in the background and a man looking at them.

As for my part, I have gotten to fill him in about a bit of Deaf history of social media knowing that it started with Unity of Gallaudet in 2006 leading to the founding of the Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC). So I showed him several pictures/videos of the DBC conference that was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin back in 2008 occurring at the same time as AG Bell Conference right across from it. Nyle was 18 years old at that time when he enrolled in Gallaudet not having any clue of how all of this had started when the Deaf social media was having an uproar about language deprivation among Deaf babies and children. I told him how proud I was to have him to represent the Deaf Community and being involved in LEAD-K thanks to Sheri Farinha and Julie Rems-Smario for the push, and many other founders even before them. 

I even explained to him that he was the reason for me to get back to the vlog/blog world after my withdrawal in the vlog/blog world for four years especially AG Bell's attack on Nyle that got me all riled up. No one pulls down Nyle, ASL and deny that there is no language deprivation among Deaf children. Nyle admires for what we, the Deaf social media contributors, have done to lead to where we are today. Right now, Nyle has inspired me to get involved with LEAD-K in my state and I've already started. I am just glad that all of us were able to contribute our parts making this happen, and for Nyle to lead the way.
Photo description: From left to right: AnnaMarie, Nyle, Jeff (wearing a summer collared shirt with palm trees and glasses) and Barbara wearing a black jacket with pink/black flowered blouse.

We all lived happily after all! Of course, our work is never done...

(edited on May 10, 2016)