"Like being a child in a candy store"..."a dream come true," winners say of meeting Mr. Obama at hoops-themed fundraiser...
The two winners of Obama for America's online contest to attend the star-studded 2012 Obama Classic dinner in New York last week are now--of course--spokesmen for President Obama's re-election effort. Sam Stroh of Prairie Village, Kansas and Torski Dobson-Arnold of Mechanicsville, Virginia are currently featured in a post on BarackObama.com, where they gush about their experience at the dinner, co-hosted by former Bulls legend Michael Jordan. (Above: The President with Dobson-Arnold, who brought her husband Ronald as her guest)
"It was like being a child in a candy store," said Dobson-Arnold. "We were kind of star-struck.”
The winners were flown to New York and given a one-night hotel stay as part of their taxable $1,600 prize package, and each brought their spouse as a guest. They also watched a closed-press "shoot around" with Mr. Obama as well as his personal fundraising 'Dream Team,' which included Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Carmelo Anthony, Penny Hardaway, Chris Bosh, Sheryl Swoopes, Kyrie Irving, Alonzo Mourning, Rajon Rondo, Juwan Howard and NBA Commissioner David Stern. The Obama Classic events raised about $3 million.
Dobson-Arnold is a "self-employed career advisor," according to OFA, and donated through Facebook; hubby Ronald was her guest. After the President greeted her by name, Dobson-Arnold almost swooned.
"He looks right at me and says, ‘Torski, it’s wonderful to finally meet you.’ And I’m thinking, ‘He knows my name!’ So then we took a picture, and I’m pretty sure I was cheesing from ear to ear,” Dobson-Arnold said.
"It was like a dream come true...We were like little kids running around with their heroes,” said Stroh, who brought his wife Molly (Above: Meeting the President)
Stroh is a Social Studies teacher and high school basketball coach, according to OFA, and donated after finding out about the event on Twitter.
After interacting with the President a few times during the evening, "we were still in awe, pinching ourselves and trying to figure out how the heck we got to be there,” Stroh said.
The full gush...
The winners' description of their Presidential dinner experience is quoted on BarackObama.com "in their own words," reprinted below in full. Neither mentioned the dinner menu, but they *do* encourage everyone to donate.
Torski: “In walks Chris Bosh, Juwan Howard, and Patrick Ewing—coming right up the same stairs we did. And I’m thinking, ‘Okay, we’re definitely the shortest people here now.’ I’m 5’5” and my husband swears he’s 5’7”, but I would not put money on it. So we were kind of star-struck.”
Sam: “We were still in awe, pinching ourselves and trying to figure out how the heck we got to be there.”
Torski: “I was trying to give my attention to the people at my table, but then I was like, ‘Hey! Did you see Paul Pierce behind us?’ It was like being a child in a candy store. I didn’t know what to look at first.”
Sam: “It was like a dream come true, and I’ve been sharing stories about how welcoming everyone was to my wife and me. We were like little kids running around with their heroes.”
Torski: “As we’re having a conversation with Alonzo Mourning, the lights dim and in walks President Obama—and all my nerves come right back. His mic was right in front of our table. I’ve been to his rallies before, but being so close was really awesome to me. I was trying to take it all in, and then Michael Jordan introduced him, for goodness’ sake! So [after the speech], the President meets us, and I shake his hand first. He looks right at me and says, ‘Torski, it’s wonderful to finally meet you.’ And I’m thinking, ‘He knows my name!’ So then we took a picture, and I’m pretty sure I was cheesing from ear to ear.”
Sam: “Throughout the night, in our three or four interactions with him, he always thanked us for being teachers. So it’s nice to know it means so much to him. [His support for education] is important to me because in my experience at college, every semester my tuition and fees went up. My options were to either drop out or take out more loans and keep plugging away, so that’s what I did. Education should be affordable for all, not just a select few.”
Torski: “Some of his policies are near and dear to me. The health care act allowed my adult children to stay on insurance. As a former college student, I know what it is to go without health care for four years. I remember how scared I was when I got sick. I’d get the flu and just treat it with counter medicine when I should have gone to the doctor. So I’m thankful my kids don’t have that fear on their shoulders.”
Sam: “The thing I’ll take away from this—throw the political stuff away for a second and take just the person we were able to meet, and the character he has and what he stands for—it was so amazing. Now I can discuss that with people who want to talk about the election. Being a coach, teacher, and father, it’s not easy to find time. But being involved in the political process—not only voting, but spreading the word and talking about it with friends and family—is a key part of this.”
Torski: “The President is very genuine in his personality, and he’s very sincere about getting to know you. We have a president who can relate to the average middle-class person, and knows what it is to build something from nothing and achieve your dreams, whether that’s being president or owning your own small business like I do. He also felt I was significant enough to know my name—and to know how to pronounce it because Torski’s not your average name. That part will forever stand out to me, and it’s a story I’ll share with my grandkids. One of the first things I’m going to do is get to the Virginia headquarters and not be a sayer, but a doer in securing the next four years for President Obama.”
After the event, Stroh tweeted the above photo of the President and Jordan during dinner.
"#dreamcometrue," Stroh wrote.
More on the President's guests is here.
The transcript of the President's dinner remarks.
*Photos by Obama for America