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by Craig Juntunen

New York City has a reputation for being different. And it is. Tonight was a unique stop on the tour.

New YorkI want to thank city host Tina Traser for her leadership and the entire volunteer team for filling the house.

Tonight something unusual happened. Of all of the challenges we have dealt with on the fly during the tour, a broken projector was one issue we had never considered. I typically introduce the film and then go have dinner while the film is playing and that is exactly what I did tonight.  I arrived back in the theater to find the manager with a strange look on his face. Apparently, the projector had broken in the middle of the film. It wasn’t as if the film only stopped for a few seconds: the projector was done. The theater team had to get a back-up projector in place. For 10-15 minutes, the audience had to sit and wait. You would think we would have lost a lot of the audience while this problem was being sorted out, especially since no one knew how long the delay would last. But this particular audience, this New York audience, stayed put, and I say they did so out of respect for the kids and the cause. Things finally did get worked out, but it was a good thing Thaddaeus Scheel, our Director,  was in the house tonight with his family and friends as his leadership proved to be critical to getting the evening back on track.

Other than that…..or maybe because of that…..it was a great evening.

The Nightline television show filmed the entire evening for a future segment. I am very grateful as this segment will continue to expose the issue. They started filming on the bus before anyone showed up and stayed with us until the after party started to wind down.

New YorkWe also had some very special guests tonight.

The Scoppa family was in attendance and it was such a privilege to share the evening with them. The theme of our film is “love grows kids” and seeing the kids tonight was the physical evidence that it is true. I am grateful for their courage allowing us to share their story with the rest of the world so more kids can have a family. Being with Duke, Lisa, Erickson and Therline tonight profoundly underscores why we are doing this: the importance of this movement makes things like a broken projector seem so insignificant.

On my email signature it says, “Adoption serves as a champion of human potential.” New YorkWe also had a real-life example of that tonight as our special guest was Michaela DePrince. Michaela was born in war-torn Sierra Leone, where her father was shot by rebels and her mother died of starvation soon thereafter. Michaela went to an orphanage where she was shunned as a “devil’s child” because of a skin condition causing depigmentation. She saw a beloved caretaker murdered and dismembered.

Then when she was four, she was adopted and brought to New Jersey by Elaine and Charles DePrince. The little girl who was inspired by a magazine picture of a ballerina while in the orphanage, is now a rising star in the ballet world and the youngest performer in the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Hers is a life that was truly changed.

Tonight was a great night and the character and energy of New York City showed up.

The disruption of the broken projector and the long delay could have been a formula for a disastrous night; instead, it produced the opposite effect. I was with a very committed group of people tonight, and that commitment will go a long way to helping start this movement.

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