The No. 1 reason Sweet vacations are so awesome are the people we attract. Case in point, Sweetie of the Year nominee Candy Parker embodies our philosophy of debauchery and do-goodery to the Nth power. Since we met her on her 50th birthday in Isla Mujeres last year, she’s taken booked five more Sweet trips, done two community service projects, organized the creation of a charity cookbook to benefit the Cozumel Humane Society and written a story about her Sweet experience for Curve Magazine.
As a solo traveler, Candy was worried about coming on her own, but she quickly became the leader of a very wild pack of solos. Her friendliness is a magnet that draws in Sweeties, old and new.
Like all of our Sweeties, I feel so grateful to have her travel with us. A word of caution, Candy will buy you shots of tequila until you pass out. Don’t worry, she will make sure you get home safely.
Candy received a ton of nominations from her fellow Sweeties for our Sweetie of the Year award. When I read her speech, I knew that not only was Candy someone special, but that Sweet was doing something wonderfully right.
This is Candy’s totally awesome speech from our Sweetie Awards Weekend in San Francisco in March:
Thank you, Shannon, for the very kind introduction. And thank you Jen, Julie, and Babs for making this weekend a reality for all these generous, beautiful and — at this point in the day after the wine country tour — somewhat intoxicated Sweeties. I have to say it feels a little weird being up on stage at a Sweet event without a karaoke machine somewhere nearby, so you’ll have to forgive me when I lapse into a chorus of “Old Time Rock and Roll,” if I lose my place in my speech. Old habits die hard after all.
In all seriousness, I have to say that I was more than a little surprised when I received the email from Shannon notifying me that I was amongst those nominated for the first annual “Sweetie of the Year Award.” For those who weren’t on the Isla Mujeres trip last September and don’t already know me as “that woman who’s running around table-to-table telling everyone she just turned 50 yesterday and wanting us to do shots,” I am relatively new to Sweet, that trip having been my initial experience.
But here I am a scant six months later, both humbled and honored to be considered for the title “Sweetie of the Year.” I figured I might be an odds-on favorite for “Most Likely to Inadvertently Do Harm to Herself,” “Most Likely to Create a Shortage of Tequila,” or “Person We’d Like to See Posting Less Frequently on the Sweeties Facebook Page,” but I never would have imagined my name would be tossed in the hat for the Big One.
You see, six months ago, I was barely recycling on a regular basis, much less thinking about other “little things I could do a lot” to make a difference in this gigantic world of ours. (I’m paraphrasing Shannon on that one.) But, as corny as it sounds, while I went to Isla for the fun and frolic, I came back not only with a few dozen great new friends, but with a sense of inspiration to bring Sweet’s mission back home with me. I don’t know how anyone can hang out with Shannon and not have a little of that inspiration rub off on you — she’s truly incredible. And the real magic in what she does is that the little seed of inspiration she plants within each of us somehow grows exponentially when we all come together — it’s definitely one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
I want to thank the Shannon and the Sweet staff for making every trip so unique and special and thank all the Sweeties — the ones who are here tonight, the ones who couldn’t make it, and the ones who don’t even know they’re Sweeties yet — for making Sweet what it is. I hope all of you come away from this weekend feeling like you’ve had a great time, met a new friend or 10, and, most of all, feeling like you want to do a little something every day to make the world a better place.