It’s because of the event.
It’s because of the message.
It’s because of the keynote speaker.
That being said, welcome to Cleveland, Tina Wesson — a proud mom, a fiery competitor and a lone survivor!
Yes, coming to our Bradley County hometown is THE Tina Wesson, a Knoxville native whose face is a postcard and whose name is legend among fans — and there are millions of them — of CBS TV’s top-rated reality show, “Survivor.”
Followers of this television anomaly — now in its 28th incredible season (that’s 14 years) — remember her well as the million-dollar winner of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” in 2001. It was the reality show’s second season.
Her hard-earned victory was the start of a “Survivor” roller coaster for the athletic Tina, who’s as good as they get in tennis and racquetball.
But in “Survivor,” it’s all about outlasting, outplaying and outwitting. It’s a social game. It’s a physical test of endurance. It’s an individual test of inner-strength and moral character.
After outdueling mild-mannered Texan Colby Donaldson in the final Tribal Council in Australia, Tina returned to the show three years later to compete in 2004’s “Survivor: All-Stars.” However, that experience turned sour and she became the first contestant voted out only three days into the competition. As a former winner, she was perceived immediately to be a threat by younger players who were eager to claim a piece of their own “Survivor” pie and the million-dollar prize.
Committed to redeeming her image, Tina came back again in 2013 for the show’s 27th season in “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” where she finished fourth, falling just short of the final Tribal Council.
Now just a few months shy of 54, Tina is taking her message to the people — especially to the hearts of young folks, and tonight it will be intended mostly for teen women and girls. She will mesh her experiences of personal triumph with grieving times of deep tragedy.
Though sure to be inspiring, her words won’t be rocket science. They will trumpet the same themes by which Tina has lived her life, a few among them being:
Giving up is never a final option.
“Impossible” is merely a perception of the eyes and a prison of the ears.
“Maybe” is the dialogue of the unwilling and a hope of the uncertain.
“Won’t” is the hidden precursor to “can’t.”
A girl’s dream transcends to a woman’s vision.
A woman’s vision lights the path to a task yet unattained.
Empowering Women is about lighting a fire in the hearts of little girls and giving them reason to believe that they can, they must and they will.
Empowering Women is about bringing role models to a stage and giving them the spotlight of influence for the sake of our youth who crave their passion.
Empowering Women is about granting a voice and finding safe passage so that it may be heard.
Empowering Women is about introducing a role model whose life’s experiences as a child are not so far removed from those who can benefit from their telling.
Empowering Women is about reaching out and touching the fragile lives of those straddling the fence that divides right from wrong.
Empowering Women is about the good in life, alienating the bad and understanding the difference between the two.
Empowering Women is about a “me” thing, a “you” thing and a “we” thing.
Tonight’s festivities kick off at 7 p.m. from the Cleveland Country Club. Included will be a scrumptious meal, a fundraising auction, a time of fellowship among women and men and all who believe in the potential of youth. Emceeing will be another beloved face, popular comedian Karen Mills — a local girl who dared to dream.
Also on tap will be a set of heartfelt awards for women in our hometown community who are making a difference every day in the lives of those around them and in the lifestyles of those who yearn to be them.
And so, we offer again. Welcome to Cleveland, Tina Wesson!
You will find many new friends in “The City With Spirit.”
Their measure won’t come in the number of hearts; but rather, in the volume of their beat.