The past few weeks have really seemed to be a blur. We were on the road for 10 straight days. Our travels took us from Tualatin to Centralia Washington to Burns and then off to Phoenix Arizona. Every year since 2017 I have gone to the GRPC (Gun Rights Policy Conference.) Of the 6 years that I have been attending, I have given a speech 5 years in a row. It is a tremendous honor for me to be able to be able to speak to many people from the industry that I look up to. Every year I get to tell the entire country about this very special organization that I founded. All of the hard work that I have put into the development of ourprogram has now transformed me into a leader nationally when it comes to the safety of children. It is a tremendous honor to share with them what we do. It is at this conference where I have made great connections and friendships. The hard part is seeing my friends only once a year. It has become a family-type situation for many of us. The goodbyes are always the worst part.
This year I had the opportunity to share the stage and have a panel with my good Robyn Sandoval of A Girl and a Gun. She runs a first-rate training organization that empowers women from all over the country to get involved in shooting sports. I have been a fan since I first met her back in 2017. In 2019 I had the privilege of traveling to her national conference in Texas to help instruct and to also talk about the important work to protect children. What I was really impressed with was the culture that she had created with the hundreds of women who were in attendance. It was a really fun time. It never ceases to amaze me where the journeys that lead me all through my work to protect the kids. It has been a journey fueled by my faith in the Lord because it is my belief that none of this would be possible without him. He is the fuel and I am just the messenger. While we are on different paths, we always come together at GRPC. It is here where we catch up on the wins, network, and strategize on where we would like to go next. I am in a fortunate position where the work that I do with children parlays very nicely with the work that she does.
The speeches that we gave came to fruition by chance really. I was originally set to speak with a friend of mine Mike Piwowarski. He has a nationally syndicated radio show that I have appeared on many times. Another friend that I have met through GRPC. He was set to receive an award that weekend in Georgia and he was forced to cancel last minute. That is when Robyn and I were paired together. It was a great pairing. Our topic, which is one that I came up with for my and Mike’s speech was “empowering and inspiring the next generation of future 2A advocates.” This topic was definitely right in our wheelhouse. Even though it was short notice we came together and spent the few days in Phoenix planning what we were going to say. I must say that I always write a speech beforehand and yet when I get on stage I speak from my heart. The words that I typically prepare help me shape the direction that I want to take. I will tell you it was a great honor being on that stage and sharing a microphone with my friend. It was fun to watch her speak about a topic that she is so passionate about, women’s training. Our speech focused on women, children, and the family.
As I began to speak, I could feel the calm. At the beginning of my career, as the President of the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation. Public speaking was a big challenge for me. Growing up I had a stutter and I was born with my tongue being tied. It caused me from a young age to have issues communicating. I remember vividly being bullied at a young age. It wasn’t until I was able to fight back that it all stopped. Those were different times than today. It was that negative experience that has forged me into a protector of the children. Even though there were a couple of hundred people in that room and many tuning in from all over the world. I was at peace. There were no nerves and I spoke from my heart. I could see nods from the crowd, my message was resonating. I remember vividly as I spoke, a man that I really respected and looked up to. Jeff Knox is a famous writer in the gun industry, he made his way to the front of the room and took a picture of me with his iPhone as I spoke. He then gave me a thumbs-up. I was thinking to myself, did that really happen? That experience empowered me to finish strong. A line that really hit home with the crowd was “I’m loud and I am proud! I am a gun owner!” They all cheered. As I returned to my seat after my speech, Jeff Knox walked up and shook my hand. Then I had business cards flying at me. It felt amazing to have my words resonate in a way that allowed people to reach out for other possibilities or platforms. As I develop my skills and hone our message going forward. I am humbled and I am in awe of how far I have come and how far I truly still have to go. Until we get to ZERO, I will continue to do the work. Until next time. Be safe!