I joined Toastmasters about 4 years ago to become a better communicator. I didn’t realize at the time what a profound effect it would have on me in every aspect of my life. Not only did I become a better speaker-I became a better person, and in the process I met some wonderful, caring people who helped me heal after the loss of my mother to a long battle with COPD. I gave a speech about how she inspired me, and my brothers to do our best and to pursue our dreams. This year, my Toastmasters “family” encouraged me to compete in my first contest, against some very talented speakers in the Eau Claire Toastmasters’ Speech Contests. What a great experience! I took 2 first place victories, and then a second place win, falling one victory short of taking trip to the Wisconsin State Toastmasters’ competition. I dedicate my trophies to all my family, friends and especially my parents, all of whom continue to inspire me to this day.