I always knew he was distinguished…

…now the rest of Gardner-Webb does, too.

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Several weeks ago Matt received communication from Gardner-Webb University that he had been nominated as a Distinguished Alum.  It was an honor to be nominated and I was very proud of him.  Accepting this honor allowed us to have a fantastic whirlwind weekend!

IMG_5113Matt and I left early Friday morning and flew (alone!) to Charlotte, NC.  We landed safely and headed toward baggage claim.  As we rode down the escalators to baggage claim we saw Mason, our nephew!  Josh (my brother) Ashley, and their littles surprised us at the airport! How sweet! Especially considering it’s an international airport and parking is a bear.

After we got our luggage we told Josh and Ashley we’d meet them at Gander Mountain for a little shopping. We had some time to kill before our dinner plans. Matt and I rode a bus a short distance to the airport’s Hertz office where I stood in line for an hour and a half waiting to receive our car. This was insane, and I’ve decided that next time I’ll either select a different company or I’ll splurge for the GOLD member status… those people had no wait at all. (NOTE: I was able to rent a car using my debit card, so even though there was a ridiculous wait, I am grateful that Hertz still accepts real money instead of demanding its customers pay with debt.)   We didn’t make it to Gander Mtn. In fact, we drove through 5:00 traffic and pulled into the restaurant at exactly the time I had hoped to: 6:15!

I had told Matt we were meeting his mom, my parents, and my brother and his family for a birthday dinner for my dad. When we entered the room of the Italian place we had selected, 47 of our friends and family were already seated. I had managed to surprise Matt with a promotion party!

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A room full of people celebrating Matt’s promotion, Distinguished Alumni status, Bronze Star award, and his coming home safely from Afghanistan.

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My parents (in the back) along with my precious cousins… they traveled a long distance to attend!

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And Madison says, “CHEEEEEESE!”

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My grandparents. Josh (my brother) and Ashley with Mason between. My Uncle Steve and Aunt Antonia with Brooke in the foreground, hugging Madison.  Brett would have been here but he’s away at Basic Training… HOOAH!

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Matt’s cousins. Some of them, anyway!  The Hovis, Wensil, and Robinson Families…

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Matt’s aunts and uncles, and more of his cousins!

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Small Town Friendly REPRESENTS!

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No, that is not Parker on Matt’s cake! That’s Matt! (Thank you, Sybil, for taking care of the cake!)

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Youth all grown up!

 

We all ordered, ate, and then, while we enjoyed cake, I had a slideshow of images from Matt’s most recent deployment to share. Also included in the slideshow were pictures from Matt’s Bronze Star ceremony, promotion, and change of command ceremony. It was so neat for us to be able to share this part of our lives with our NC friends and family; people with no connection to the military whatsoever. Well, no connection other than Matt.

It took some effort to make this night happen:

Matt’s mom brought a cake; my parents brought a large-screen TV to show the slideshow on; my brother saved the evening by running to Radio Shack to purchase an HDMI cable… (I didn’t realize I’d need one).  Families came from a great distance to show Matt how proud they are of him and I honestly couldn’t have asked for the night to be any sweeter! (Well, except for the fact that some loved ones were unable to come. We definitely missed a few friends and family members who had prior commitments.)

Stay tuned… tomorrow I’ll post the rest of the story.

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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