(Note:  the writing in my emails is more for feeling than for strict writing style, so I won't edit my enthusiasm by making it "good writing")

I won the grand prize in the AT&T Blackberry Sports Challenge, which included:

Sweepstakes Prize:  One (1) trip for four (4) for winner plus three (3) guests to a 2010 Basketball Game.  Prize consists of round-trip coach air transportation for four (4) from a major airport nearest the winner’s home within the U.S. (airport, destination, carrier and airline ticket class selected at the sole discretion of Sponsors), two (2) double occupancy standard accommodation rooms for four (4) nights (accommodation to be selected at the sole discretion of Sponsors;), one (1) $1,000.00 USD Gift Certificate for an online sporting goods store, four (4) tickets (or, at Sponsors’ discretion, a check to purchase 4 tickets) to a basketball game (the “Event”) (exact game and ticket level to be selected at the sole discretion of Sponsors), $2,000.00 USD spending money (awarded as a check) for the winner only and ground transportation from the destination airport to the hotel, and to and from the hotel and Event. Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of the Sweepstakes Prize is $14,300.00 USD

Below are some notes and pictures to help represent each day (I took about a million more pics, but these will have to do so you don't get bored silly)

It was an AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING trip.  Far better and grander than any of us ever imagined.  I took my then-fiance/now-husband, my 17-year old son and his best friend.  


We took the shuttle (free) to the block party last night and WOWWWWWWWWW  ha  TOTAL VIP treatment.  We were up in this special box with all the big wigs  ha  it was air conditioned, fancy chairs, free food, free drinks (alcohol too, anything you wanted).  TWO levels of it, perfect view of the concert, etc.    Also, Stone Temple Pilots WERE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!   We took TONS of pictures of them on the big screen and on the stage.  It was just unbelievable.  We almost didn't go caue we thought we'd have to stand the whole time  haha   I"m SO glad we went!    And of course our special shuttle took us right up to this back entrance and whisked us past security guards, etc. when we left  ha  It was fun.

the tickets for the Final 4 are GOOOOORGEOUS.  Really shiny and fancy and special.   We are taking lots of picture of them before hand  ha  AND they gave us a fancy lanyard holder thing to put our "credentials"/ticket in to wear to the game... AND they gave us each these cool Live Sports Radio things!  They are real radios, and you wear them over your ear, and it has LIVE sports commentary on the game, WITH NO LAG TIIME.  They're sooo cool.  (all from the hospitality suite)



First of all I should mention right away we have bought ONE meal since we've been here  hha  one pizza meal... and then those sodas and popcorn at the game.. AND THAT'S IT!  ha  The Hospitality suite has food all the time, and sodas and water and everything.  We stop in there for ALL of our meals, and then of course EVERYWHERE we go in the VIP areas has tons of food, so we are NOT at a loss for free food!  haha  I swear, I think we'll leave and have spent about $50 total  ha  which is awesome!
Then we went to the CBS Pre-game party.  WOWWW.  I almost didn't have us go as we thought we only had tickets for one or the other, but of course we had passes for both!  ha   So we took the AT&T private shuttle over there, and as we were trying to find the party, we saw these signs, with guards in front of them that said "private party, no entry".  I jokingly wondered if that was where were going.  WELL IT WAS!  haha
And what's funny, is we had our ticket and pass in our cool credentials holder around our necks, so I showed it to a group of guards and they graciously led us in.. well Kevin had his turned around to only show the TICKET, not the pass.. so this big guy stopped him and said "SIR, SIR, SIR..." and put his hand up and blocked him from going in!  hahaha   Kevin quickly turned his pass around  haha  then the guy got all nice and said "oh, right this way sir"  haha 
The CBS party was amazing!  (like everything here is!)   it was REALLY glamorous (for us, anyway  ha) and the band Lynard Skynard played!  Who I love!!!  And they were RIGHT in front of us, maybe 20 feet ahead of us, as i sat in a chair at the bar.  It was like they were playing this private little club  haha   There were maybeeee 250-300 people there, and tons to do.. tons of food, drinks, wild things like these things where you put your cup under it and pull a lever and candy comes out, etc.  haha   There was this big dark but cooly-lit area where people could play basketball, then lots of oher games all around.   It was soooo cool.
We took the shuttle back to the hotel and I called the limo place to tell them we'd be just a little late.  This time the limo driver was SOOOO fun!  His name is Jim and he was sooo fun and sweet.  The stadium is only like a 5  minute drive away  ha  but he offered to take us all around and give us a tour (they already paid for an hour anyway, as the woman who hired them had told me)... so that was really special.  He got to pull up to this private area to  let us out right at the door, etc.
We went in and found our seats right away, and we had special seats, all with the AT&T people.  We were FIVE rows away from the private boxes!  haha  They were actually 5 rows up from us, and Nick said he really preferred where we were.  Plus, we were on the aisle (Nick was), so we were/are seats 1-4 in section 231, row 7  GREAT seats, we could see it all, and we took lots of pics. 
PLUS, I think I told you about those cool sports radio things they had given us to wear on our ears so we could hear the announcers in LIVE time, no delay, as the plays were happening.  SOOOO cool.. but what was even neater is when they'd go to commercial  haha  cause then you'd hear things that other people didn't hear, like them saying "Did you get my notes from earlier.. Brenda, could you bring those in for me, and how is the sound level?".. etc.  hahaha  so funny!  We LOVE these little toys and have said we'll keep those forever.. plus of course they say NCAA 2010 Final 4 all over them too  ha   They have a thing where you can hang it from your neck when you're not using it, so we have that around our necks in some of those pics that you'll see too.
Oh, and there are these cool seat pad things on each seat.  And they say the same things.. Final 4, etc... and we got to keep them.  Some people were walking out with about 8 of them  ha  (from people who didn't want theirs).. we took 2 extras, but want to make sure we can pack them all to take home  haha  They push way down when you sit on them, (or push on them with your hand), so we think they'll pack easily.   

Of coures it was AMAZING to watch the games right there, with all the screaming fans.  Sooo fun!  Plus, NO ONE was sitting right behind us for the first game, so that was neat!  ha  and only one guy the 2nd game.. part of the AT&T crew I guess, as that's what our whole area was.  There were LOTS of sections and rows up above us, we were not quite half way up, and a clear view of everything.  We have the same seats tomorrow for the championship game.
We have a picture of two guys in there, they were talking to one another.. one was an announcer interviewing someone else..... Bill Walton is one that Kevin remembers.. they were literally 5 rows above us in that boxup there, with more AT&T people..
After the games, this is the ONE time we have to walk home.. so we walked about oh 6-8 full blocks or so... well, there were 72,000 people there (they showed us the number at the end).. so WHAT an experience!  ha  There were cops everywhere, to try to keep everyone honest  ha  but TONS of weird people too... street music people, people begging, people trying to sell/buy championship tickets.. eeetc..  It freaked the teenage boys out a bit  haha    I told him to keep their hand on their wallet in their front pocket.. and stay by us.. etc.  I had my purse around my neck as I always do in those type of situations.. so I was fine.   At one point Kevin got a bit ahead of the boys and he said Nick ran up and pulled on the back of Kevin's shirt and said "wait, wait, don't get ahead of us"  haha    At one point Nick said "One word keeps coming to mind.. it's AUTHENTIC"  hahah  which it sure was!    haha  We're actually glad we did it, as it was an EXPERIENCE, that's for sure...
BUTTTT, at the final game, the limo takes us there and WAITS for us and takes us back!  yea!!!  hahaha   That will be even more fun  haha




I had noticed in the offerings for today that they had something called a "Dribble to the Final 4" which was for kids under 18.   So we walked down to the park (about a mile) and signed them up (FREE to all kids), and they got a free, fun t-shirt (which I told the boys that these are REALLY elite t-shirts, as anyone can order NCAA t-shirts online, but ONLY these 4,000 kids can say they have these special t-shirts, and got to do this special experience...)
After we got the t-shirts, we walked wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy back to the end of the line  ha  Seriously, Kevin and I estimated it was about another mile.. it was unreal.   It was the line to get the basketball and get going.   Then they got their basketball (a really cool one, black and white, with the Final 4 stuff on it).. and of course they were brand new and got to keep them too!   So a free t-shirts and cool full-sized basketball.. definitely worth it.  

Well, we walked with them, and it was about another mile, and then we walked back to the hotel, about another mile.  So we got a GOOD workout today!  haha  about 4 miles.  It was so fun to see (and hear) all those kids DRIBBLING their basketballs alllllllll that way  haha   What a unique experience! 
Then we rushed back and got lunch in the hospitality suite, then changed our clothes to our dressier clothes.. (oh my gosh all the boys looked SOOO handsome in their big-boy clothes!!!!  haha)   then got our fancy wristbands for tonight.   We took the private AT&T shuttle to the private meet and greet.. well let me tell you.. it was muuuuuuuuuuuch better than we thought.
There were only like 50 people there.. VERY intimate area with these players.  There were only three players in there, but then a 4th came in at the end, and I tackled him for a picture  haha
What's funny is... the boys were so shy, and I didn't even know these players, but if you see a REALLY tall guy, and people are all around him, you can bet he's some player!  ha  I ain't dumb, as Mom says!  haha   I know that you have to MOVE and get right in there to get autographs, pictures, etc.  I mean that's what they're there for, and there is NO TIME to be shy or wonder if you're bothering them  haha      So I told Kevin and the boys that I felt like I had a cattle prod the whole time, and was being a cruise director at the same time, orchestrating it all  haha
First I rushed over to one guy and pushed the kids over to get their autographs on their shirts... then I asked him for pictures.. then I grabbed another guy.. etc.  haha   One of their favorite players (who ended up being the grand Naismith Award winner.. Evan Turner was sooo sweet (and so cute!  haha )
Well, I didn't know that they were going to have an OFFICIAL photography thing with them.. They had this wall set up that looks like the walls at the red carpet affairs.. with the sponsors on there, etc.. and they had this professional photographer there, and the players posed with us!  and they printed the pictures out, right there, for us!     So that was coooool!   And the guys are sooooo tallllllllllll  haha  I looked WAY up to them and said "thanks!"  haha  Even KEVIN said he's never felt so short, and he's tall usually!  haha
So, the boys were already grinning, ear to ear  haha   Then I saw this other guy, who someone said was an ex KANSAS player..   Danny Manning.. or something like that?   Anyway.. I went on up to him and said (like we were buddies  ha)  "I hear you're from Kansas?"  He smiled really sweet and said "yes I am".. I said "I'm from Wichita, Kansas, born and raised, but I've lived in Wisconsin for the past 20 years"  he said "oh really?  I'm from Lawrence"  haha   It was so sweet..... then later when I posed the official shot with him, we held hands, and he said "this looks like a prom picture" and then laughed really cute. AND IT DOES!!!  ROFLHOL   OH well, we're big buddies now anyway  hahaha  It kind of looks like we're dancing  hahaha
So, then I notice that those first two guys.. Evan Turner (Ohio State), and  Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) were signing people's PICTURES.. so I rush over there to get mine signed  hahaha  of course.. and prod the boys over there to get theirs (while I took pictures of them getting signed).
AT ONE POINT this television media was there and they put their camera RIGHT IN KEVIN'S FACE and asked "so, can I see your photo?"  and Kevin held it up and by his face and smiled.. then the cameraman did the same with Nick's.. then he went behind and got a close-up of Wesley signing Corey's!  haha  It was one of those big cameras with the bright light in the front  ha  I said "this will wind up on the news tonight"  haha    Well you know me, I had to take pictures WHILE that was happening  haha  So I have a really fun picture of that, that looks like Kevin is being interviewed by the media.. which he was!  hahaha
Wesley and Evan also sat there and signed some pictures, right in front of us, of their publicity photos.. of them doing an action shot.. and we got one of each of those too!!!  haha
Oh, and then this other TALL guy came in (always a good indicator of another player  hahaha)  and it was this white guy and someone said "oh my gosh, that's Cole Aldrich, from Kansas!"   man, that was all I needed, I sprang into action again  ROFLHOL
Nick said "no, wait, they'll have him do those professional photos like the other guys did".. I said "we don't know that, so get up and get over there"  haha  SURE ENOUGH they didn't have him do the special thing, so I'm glad I got that shot!  haha     I didn't tell HIM I'm from Kansas.. I already had my other Kansas buddy (ha)
So, all in all, they got their pictures taken with FIVE basketball guys (including McHale from the night before).     I had the boys look at their pictures, and autographs, etc. and look at them adoringly. the picture turned out sooo cute  haha  cause they really WERE so excited!  haha
Then, we went up to the awards ceremony, and had a special curtained-off area for us to sit... right in the center, front of the balcony, perfect view.   Kevin took some great pictures of the final 2 game coaches, and some of the players who won awards, etc.   It was really fun.
As we were about to leave, these couple of hundreds of people came rushing up the stairs (the people who had been sitting down in the main area). and they were trying to get into this post-game reception..  Well, of course we had already had this intimate experience with these guys, so we were done  haha   And as ALL these people filed past us, Nick said "they're not the VIPs"  haha   I said "well, actually they are, as anyone who's even invited AT ALL to this Naismith award ceremony is priviledged, as it's a big deal.. it just so happens that we got invited to an even more intimate PART of this ceremony..."  ha
SOOOO weird to experience all this VIP stuff  hahaha   We're soaking it up now, as we know we'll be back to "common folk" soon enough  hahaha
The AT&T shuttle took us back and we are protecting our pictures until tomorrow when we get these things to put them in that keep them safe for the trip home.   I took some pictures OF the pictures for now (we'll scan them in later).. so you can kind of see them...  they're so cool!
So, another amazing day..  Now, we are relaxing (well, I will be, after I finish writing my emails and such  ha).. then I plan on entering some SWEEPS when I'm here..  If I'd had enough time, I'd be missing entering them  haha  but they've kept us pretty busy!  ha
 Tomorrow we are free until about 5 in the afternoon (will eat breakfast and lunch in the free hospitality suite) and the boys will go out skateboarding again.. they love saying they've skateboarded in downtown Indianapolis!  ha, then we go by the shuttle to the CBS pre-game party again (not sure if it will be the same or different, or what band is playing,e tc.?)  and then back to the hotel, then get the limo again to go to the game.. but THIS time we get the limo to take us back to the hotel, which is cool.  Then the Limo comes again to pick us up for the airport Tues. a.m. at 10:45 for the airport.  Once they drop us off for our flights home I guess we'll go back to being regular, ordinary people again (ha)
The hospitality suite didn't open until 11 today and they don't have any food laid out yet (but will soon I'm sure).. anyway, I was talking to Nick on the phone, and he told me that, but said they had a fresh supply of diet dr. pepper, which is what I've been drinking...  so I told him to bring me a couple and we bought new batteries for the camera, etc.
Okay, so he said that he and Corey got onto an elevator earlier today (there are 8 elevators, 4 on each side of the hallways), and would just let the elevator take them wherever anyone asked for it  ha  (didn't press any buttons).. and the FIRST person who got on was the HEAD COACH OF DUKE!  haha   So the 3 of them road from the 4th floor down to the 1st together  haha
I asked him if they shook his hand or asked for an autograph or anything.. but OF COURSE I wasn't there with my cattle prod, making them do things  hahaha  He said "it just happened so quickly, we just stood there, dumbstruck"  hahaha  I said "you got that dumb part right"  hahaha




I had to take some thorough pictures of our beloved Hospitality Suite before we left.  I took some of the outside of it, going in, and of each of the areas, like the pool table and the big screen TV with Wii hooked up to it, etc.  We really loved it there, so convenient and nice  ha  Oh well, we'll always remember it fondly  haha
We took pics of our Championship game tickets and final CBS pre-game tickets, but didn't take many more pics inside the CBS pre-game, as it was the same as before.  We DID play a game this time.  Kevin and I played that new Wii tennis (with the two famous tennis players on it).  It was really fun!  We played it for quite a while, while the boys played basketball.  This time I got a picture of a person checking Kevin's ticket as we went in too  ha  (since he was almost blocked last time)
The limo driver we had for the final game was all business  ha  He was our least favorite.  His name is Chris.  He gave us a business card with his number to text him when the game was done, and he had us call him and tell him which door to pick us up.  He held back the traffic for us to walk across to where he was on the side of the street, so he did his job well, he was just all business  ha  He WAS nice on the way back, as we were all rooting for Butler (except Corey ha)  so we talked about that a bit.  It was a longer trip back, due to having to dodge people as he drove  ha  and it had rained earlier in the day, so it was sloppy on the way there and back BUT I just knew it would stop raining every time we had to get out in the weather and sure enough it did, every time!  
The game was great, except for those last few seconds  ha  We wanted Butler to win and they alllllllllllllmost did.. by a matter of inches.. sigh.. oh well.   We took lots of pics inside, with us standing at the bottom of that balcony row, and seeing the big stadium behind us.  I especially love the one of Kevin and I kissing.
There were no seat covers on the seats this tiime, so we're glad we took ours from the other day.  Mannnnn, it was tough packing all of that extra stuff they gave us  ha  but we did it, yea!  ha  and no one was over the limit or anything, whewwww.
Our last limo driver, to the airport, was Ray, and he was really sweet (we ranked them, and he was our 2nd favorite.. flamboyantly-gay-Jim was our favorite and was also the kindest), though I think Ray looks like he's with the mob  haha   I expected a dead body to be in the back  haha   oh, and I told him how the first limo driver, the woman, Rosie, had had trouble fitting our bags in there, and we had to have Corey's up with us.. he said "oh she doesn't know me, I'm GOOD at packing trunks"  (I thought I should have asked "yeah, how many dead bodies CAN you fit in there anyway?"  ROFLHOL  
No, seriously, he was great and sure enough, fit it all back there.  We took some final pictures in the limo, and Corey started us off by pretending he was crying  haha  (I THINK he was just pretending..  haha)   So then we took some thumbs down pictures and crying pictures that it was our last limo ride, and the end of the special treatment  ha
 I also want to write thank you letters to EVERYONE associated with this win.. not just Lori (the woman who orchestrated it), but also to the AT&T people, and to the Hilton for fixing our room situation, etc.  I'll include just a few key pictures (like the ones of us at the stadium or something) to attach to them.