There are some people that you meet in life who really help keep things in perspective.
They make you look at the big picture and realize that the little things in life really aren’t that important.
Ten-year-old Jenna and her mother Jolece are two of those people.
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And I had the pleasure – or rather the honor – of spending time with them Sunday in the “holding pen” waiting with those who held standby tickets for Kelly Monaco aka Sam McCall on General Hospital.
So as we stood together for two hours while fans with regular FastPasses got face time with Kelly, we talked.
I learned that Jenna loves to dance.
I learned that Jenna is a big KeMo fan from when she won season one of Dancing With The Stars.
And I also learned that Jenna had a brain tumor…. that a doctor at the Mayo Clinic cut out the tumor in January and that her latest MRI last month showed some kind of change and they’re not sure what it means.
Understandably, Jolece is worried. But she puts on a brave, positive front.
And Jenna – well she is the cutest little thing and you’d never know what she’s gone through in her young life by looking at her.
Jenna was just so excited about meeting Kelly and she had written a message to Kelly on one of her cards for Jennaswish.org. You see, Jolece has waged a campaign to fight pediatric brain tumors and has a website telling Jenna’s story and raising awareness for the disease.
Click here to view the website.
As the time ticked away and the people with regular FastPasses just kept coming – it became apparent that Kelly wasn’t going to get to her standbys.
Kelly was wonderful with her fans. In fact, she was too wonderful. By that I mean she took a lot of time with each fan. She was incredibly attentive, especially to the children. By watching Kelly interact with her fans I was impressed with her sincerity. And with every passing fan, I really hoped that I would get the chance to meet her.
She took a lot of time going into the crowd, signing autographs and taking photos with those who didn’t have FastPasses or standby passes.
I think it’s wonderful that she is so giving.
But here’s the thing….Time ran out. The Disney handlers were rushing her to finish up. And the people who took the time to pull a standby pass with the hope that she would take them were left out in the cold.
At the end, Kelly ran around the railing trying to get photos with some of the standbys, but only a few ended up with a photo or autograph. Everything happened so fast. Jolece’s camera appeared to misfire and the card that Jenna wanted to give Kelly was lost in the shuffle.
I looked down and Jenna was fighting back tears and tears were streaming down Jolece’s face as she tried to comfort her daughter.
Another woman and I tried to get the attention of the Disney people. Kelly hadn’t left the area yet, but it didn’t look good that she was coming back…..Then she circled around.
I asked Jolece to get out another card and have Jenna write her message on it. Jolece dug in her purse and came out empty.
Dejectedly, she looked up. She was all out of her cards.
Then I remembered…Jolece had given me a card when we first met two hours earlier. I pulled out the card and Jenna wrote her message.
Kelly came within ear shot. We called her over and she spotted Jenna. She put her arm around her, posed for photos and read Jenna’s card. Kelly said she was about to cry.
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Click here to view more photos of Kelly and Jenna.
I am a believer that everything happens for a reason….Several times during those two hours, I thought of leaving. We had a long drive back and I was really tired.
But something – I can’t explain it – kept me in that holding pen until the end….I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.
At the end of the day, it didn’t matter that I didn’t meet Kelly or get a photo with her.
It mattered that Jenna did.
(Come back Wednesday to read about my encounter with Bradford Anderson (Spinelli), which was worth the price of admission, and my overall wrap-up of the event – the highs and the lows. I’ll also include a link to all my SSW photos.)

8 Responses to “A Super Soap Encounter I’ll Never Forget”

  1. Dana Good
    20:43, 13.11.2007

    Hello Michele,
    I am Jenna’s grandmother on her mom’s side. **Thank you from the bottom of my heart.** Not only for the pictures and story but for your insight into and love for others. I will add you to my prayers. God has used you in a special way to get Jenna’s story out. Jolece has been working tirelessly to try and make the public aware that JPA is a real and present danger to the lives of many children. Not all stories have a positive side to them as Jenna’s does and positive does not mean safe. Jenna may never be safe from the threat of another tumor but there are other children out there also. Innocent little lives pushed to their limits by chemo or radiation therapy. Caring people like you are helping us spread the word. Maybe one day soon there will be more and better medications and treatments. All because people like you care.
    Thank you for the smiles and tears you brought to my life today.

  2. Dana, Thank you for your eloquent and beautiful words. Your daughter and grandaughter are special people who have touched my life. I will never forget them. Michele

  3. Michele,
    I am Jenna’s cousin and I can not tell you how much you have touched me with this story. It doesn’t take much I know to see how wonderful this family is and I just thank you so much for showing everyone else how wonderful they are. I thank you for helping make Jennas wish that day come true!!! Thank you again.

  4. Do you know tyler christopher will be at the funny farm comedy in rosweel jan 26 2008

  5. Jessica, Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.
    Michele

  6. James Grossklaus
    16:23, 29.05.2008

    Hi Jenna Mike & me are glad you got to see Kelly That day we are the two that gave you the two balloons and talk to Kelly we did not know you got to see her. but we see you did

  7. What a great story! I attended SSW last year with my 11 year old daughter. My daughter and I were standing behind where Kelly was signing autographs, hoping she would come back and sign one for us. We also watched and voted for her when she was on DWTS. While standing there, I saw a blond haired girl crying as Kelly was leaving. I felt bad for her, as I know if my daughter were crying I would have felt bad. As I was reading your story and then saw the pictures, chills went up my spine as I realized that it was Jenna that I saw that day. I saw Kelly go back and take pictures with her, and my daughter and I thought it was really nice of Kelly to do that. After reading about Jenna’s medical history, I am soooooo glad Jenna was able to meet Kelly and give her the card she wanted to give to her. Thanks for posting the story. You just never know what others are going through and how something like meeting their favorite soap star can really give them a great lasting memory. I hope Jenna is doing well and we will keep her in our prayers. Carla in PA

  8. Hi Carla,
    It truly is a small world, isn’t it? To think that you were right there too and remember seeing Jenna crying – and somehow you found my blog and read about her…I tell you, there was some divine intervention all the way around.
    And I’m so glad that people are still finding Jenna’s story and reading about her.
    Periodically, I have been visiting Jenna’s website – http://www.jennaswish.org – to see her progress – and,unfortunately she had another surgery in June, because the tumor grew back.
    But the good news is that the surgery was successful.
    I urge you to go to Jenna’s website and read more about her. Her mom, Jolece, posts blogs about Jenna and her progress.