I was at Eat! Fraser Valley when I first met Katie Powell and her significant other, Evan Hunken.
My wife Kathleen was just finishing one of her wine shows on the Grapes and Hops stage at Tradex when we saw the young couple coming toward us.
Earlier in the week Katie started talking to me on social media and I shared a few of my coveted secrets on how to make communications channels work in a community like Abbotsford.
"You don't mind wearing my sash and glasses, do you?" she asked me. "No, of course not," I replied as friend Summer Dhillon, her good friend, and my wife were trying not to laugh.
Fast forward to Thursday afternoon when the social media channels were electric with news of her victory in the "Get Rid of Me" contest which earned her a six-month trip around the world through On the Go Tours based in the UK. Video of her win was released in London on this link.
Thanks to Facebook/Twitter communicators like Goldie VanGarderen of Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and Dave Farmer of MSA Museum, Katie's life-changing news was out in minutes on TNN (the Twitter News Network).
Katie garnered 35,646 votes for the draw to win. The contest featured 1,300 contestants from around the world, and she hustled on Team Kevan like nobody's business. She networked, went to community events, created her own website, designed custom T-shirts, and did her utmost to grab media attention.
The picture with her raising her glass was snapped Thursday night at MSA Museum during the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce monthly Connections event. Katie, 22, is a graduate of Mouat Secondary and is the museum's PR co-ordinator.
When I talked to her Thursday she was excited and was thankful for the support by her followers. "I want to have a party for everyone who helped," she said.
I suggested a bring-your-own beverage and food event. She was thinking about The Rancho as a venue. That's all to be determined.
Katie and Evan will keep a video diary of their travels, and I can't wait to see it.
Dave Farmer (the guy in the hat in the photo below) announced Katie's victory to a hearty round of Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce applause.
Congratulations Katie! Your will to win is incredible.
Thanks for letting us share in your success.