And the Audience Roared

Oct 25, 2016 9:45 AM ET

I reflected on the meaningfulness of the Ray of Hope Prize, and I praised the teams for their extraordinary efforts and dedication. And then I ushered in a moment that had been 22 months in the making: I invited the teams out on the stage.


I was nervous this past Saturday morning. I’ve been nervous plenty of times before, but this time felt different. The moment was bigger, and the crowd was larger. Closing my eyes, I could feel two armies of butterflies battling inside me. One wielded fear and uncertainty, while the other championed excitement and optimism. Neither would give ground as the minutes ticked by.

I sat in the green room of the Marin Center in San Rafael, California. People milled around me, but I did my best to remain aloof as I reflected upon the remarks I would soon give. To my left sat the seven finalist teams in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. I should have been chatting with them, offering smiles and gratitude before we would be escorted backstage, but I couldn’t muster it. The butterfly armies wouldn’t let me.

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Valerie Bennett
Ray C. Anderson Foundation
+1 (770) 317-5858