Thursday, November 8, 2012

WE Did It! Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach

The rain poured down on a bitterly cold Election Day.  I sat in my car warming up from the brief time that I spent outside in the cold and rain helping with electioneering at Wrightsville Beach.
It had been a long process and so many people put immense amounts of time and energy to get to this point.  So I sat there... a ball of nervous energy was building in me over the possibility of both outcomes.  Excited for the possibilities, yet anxious and scared all at the same time....  As the polls closed, several people on our Smoke-Free WB team (including my husband) went into the Wrightsville Beach polling place as the votes were tallied.  I sat in my car waiting in the unknown.  Then I couldn't take waiting anymore and text my husband with a "????!!!"... to which he replied: We won.

I let out a loud scream of joy.  All of the energy that was in me could no longer be contained and expressed itself with happy dances and jumping in the seat of my car.  I called my friend Ginger to tell her the news, to which I heard her make the same loud scream of joy.  As I write about this all now, I can still feel what it felt like to say those words "we won!  we did it!!"  I think I might cry.  Yes, I got on my phone... sent texts, made phone calls....  I wanted to shout it to the world...
With 65.3% of votes cast by WB residents on Tuesday FOR the referendum, WB residents have officially made Wrightsville Beach the first smoke-free beach in North Carolina.  That's historic stuff and I'm proud to be part of the amazing group that formed to help make it a reality.  There were so many people involved and this was a community effort that's been going on for nearly 3 years.  But with every effort there's a core group that comes together to push it forward and get the community excited and involved in creating a movement.  Thanks to determined individuals coming together, this effort gained some major momentum this year and I'd like to thank those who sat around a table at Mellow Mushroom one January evening and came up with a plan.  ...And when all hope had seemed to be lost after a 3-2 vote against a smoke-free beach in March, we got back up from being kicked down and stayed committed to the cause.

As a mom who just wanted to help make a difference, I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to be involved and to have become friends with some awesome awesome change makers.

I'd like to extend my personal gratitude to:

Tim Taylor for pushing this from the very beginning and sticking it out through the difficult times to see this through all the way to the end.

Aaron Richardet (my husband) for recognizing my passion for this effort and diving in head first to help.  Not only has he done beach cleanups with me, when we needed a leader he stepped up and through his leadership we were all able to contribute our strengths to this effort.  He's done so much more than I can write here spending countless hours researching, planning and putting those things into action.

Ginger Taylor for being a driving force of encouragement and motivation.  Amongst the many things she did, her decision to research and contact smoke-free beach towns was crucial to this effort.

Cape Fear Surfrider for providing the support needed to make this a possibility.  All signage and mailers throughout this effort were made possible through funding from CFSF.

Sara Bayles for inspiring me to take action.  Without her, my beach cleanups would have never happened.  Our cigarette litter comparisons on our two beaches were a vital part in creating the much needed understanding that smoke-free beaches really do help reduce cigarette litter.

Mayor David Cignotti & Alderman Bill Sisson for being true leaders in our community. AWESOME elected officials.  Believing in this effort whole-heartedly and listening to the will of the people is what sets them apart from the rest.

Wrightsville Beach residents for understanding the facts and getting to the polls!  Thank you all for voting FOR the referendum to help make Wrightsville Beach a cleaner more family friendly beach!

More thanks to: Al Meadowcroft, Ethan Crouch, John Marcucci, Adam Shay, Julie Collins, Tracy Carr, Kevin Murphy & Danielle Whelen, Susan Miller, Bonnie Monteleone, Carlos Bryson & family, The Roylance Family, Jason Andre, Neil Briggi, Sean Ahlum, Bobby Brandon, Jim Mincher, The Bourgeois Family, Ocean Cure, Lighthouse Beer & Wine, Sweetwater Surf Shop, Blockade Runner, South Beach Grill, King Neptune and every single person that has shown their support for this effort!!

Here's to Wrightsville Beach being the first smoke-free beach in NC!!!!