That is all I can really say right now.
Monday night was a huge night for us at the News-Star. More than 1,000 people filled the floor at the FireLake Arena for the 2nd News-Star Best of Preps event.
There are so many people who helped make it happen and I want to publicly thank them and encourage you to thank them for me when you see them.
• First, I want to thank the FireLake Arena staff. When our crowd grew beyond expectations, they didn't blink an eye to help us get people seated. They turned an arena for a sold out Christian concert into a huge banquet hall in less than 24 hours. That didn't happen without a great organization and a large staff full of hard working people. They didn't just deliver, they finished the job early.
• Patriot CJDR of Chandler. The partners that own and operate the Patriot Auto Group gave away a car to our Student of the Year and were huge financial sponsors as well. Their investment in this event was a major factor in helping us honor great students and athletes from the 13 schools we cover. Tatton Manning and Seth Knighton live what they believe and put their money where their mouth is.
• All of our sponsors. We had major sponsors who made other awards and scholarships possible. Others jumped in to make sure all of the students and athletes invited to the even had the cost of their entry covered. All of those sponsors deserve our gratitude. They make the event possible. The students and athletes make it worth it.
• Paul's Place. No matter how many people flooded their three lines of catering, they kept churning out great food. Honestly, they had to use a U-Haul to get the food and drinks in the building and it was still amazing. I can't keep a dish good when I take something simple to a family dinner for Thanksgiving. If you need catering for an event and good food is important to you, give them a call. They have been a great part of the event both years.
• Everyone who attended. There were so many students and athletes and their families and friends who supported them in attendance. You made the night fun.
• Last and certainly not least, Emily Chesser and her family. I loved writing that story as the events of Emily getting to play in a Lady Pirates game unfolded. Adam Ewing helped me cover the game that night. After she was named the Courage Award winner for overcoming obstacles, Kai Ellison of Agar Studio put together our materials into a tribute video that blew me away. I had been a part of the editing process with him. When we received the final copy, I knew it was powerful. Only when it played on the big screens in the arena during rehearsal did I realize what her story really meant to people as our production assistants and several of the people helping set up the arena wiped away tears. Needless to say, two separate standing ovations was another Best of Preps record. I know we are only two years in, but that one will be really hard to top. Emily is a special girl from a great family and in a night full of bright spots, she was a highlight.
This event will continue to get better as we learn lessons each year.
For those of you who have helped make it a great event, thank you.
I can't wait until next year.