Disney Moms Panel Monday – Chris

Straight from my heart – A glimpse into what makes my fellow Panelists so very precious to me.

It’s not often that I find myself at a loss for words. Yet, at this moment, I’m struggling to adequately pay tribute to someone who has truly become like a brother to me.

It’s no secret how much Disney Dad Chris means to me, but I’d like to take a moment to attempt to explain just a few of the countless reasons why. Perhaps it’s easiest to start at the beginning. I immediately felt a connection with Chris being that we both are from New England. One of the best things about him is that he doesn’t mince words and he calls a spade a spade…something I can relate to 😉 . Chris is as genuine as they come and simply put…he’s one in a million.

Terry, Chris & I after our video shoots during the Training Trip 12/09

After returning home from our Training Trip, this is how I described him on my blog: “Chris, my fellow Patriots fan and Massachusetts Panelist is incredible as well. His calm demeanor, and genuine Disney passion were ‘wicked cool’. For such a big guy, it was awesome how he let loose and became a kid again every time we entered the Magic Kingdom…not to mention how he willingly became Davey Crockett’s Angel. His knowledge of Disney facts was impressive, and his toast at California Grill was heartfelt. I enjoyed learning the computer system together. Chris is one of those guys that you immediately feel like you’ve known your whole life…and I consider myself blessed to know him now.”

I'm not gonna lie, his shirt may have sealed the deal...

Beginning in March of last year, Chris, Bernie and I started a “tradition” of enjoying dinner together every 3-4 months. Bernie comes up to Mass. for work and whenever possible we all “meet in the middle” to share some laughs and heart-to-hearts.

The first of many dinners together with Chris and Bernie - 3/29/10

Sure, Disney is always very much a topic of discussion. It’s the deeper conversations that resonate the most though. The open talks about our families & our precious children, our own childhoods, work, wishes and more. In just a few meetings, these building blocks started to form a rock solid foundation.

Dinner at Joe's- 7/14/10

Thinking back on all of the conversations we’ve had, I have to say that listening to Chris talk about his little girls always touches me the most. They are, without a doubt, the lights of his life.

Joe's again - 9/23/10

It was fun to get our “customary photo” at a different dinner last fall: Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.

Chris, Bernie and I - Mickey's Backyard BBQ - 9/30/10

Chris, Andi & I at MBYBBQ

The next day, we all went to visit the Give Kids the World Village to make our donation.

Our donation to Give Kids the World - 10/1/10

Prior to taking the photo above, I had paused for a moment. I wanted to tell President Pamela Landwirth exactly what Give Kids the World means to the members of the Moms Panel family. Naturally (and almost instantly), I got all choked up. As I struggled to maintain my composure, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Chris had stepped out of the group to help steady me. So kindly ignore the odd look on my face (a cross between talking and trying not to cry) and focus instead on the amazing guy who stood behind me precisely when I needed it the most.

Funny face or not, this photo means the world to me because it speaks volumes. Chris always has my back, no matter what.

Precious few people can quiet a crowd of 300 people like Chris can. He talks and everyone stops to listen. Here he is at the Moms Panel Meet & Greet.

Our "Big Guy"

Enjoying Teppan Edo with 2 of my dear friends, Jonas and Chris.

Jonas, Chris and I at Teppan Edo - Oct. '10

Chris is a 5th grade teacher. From the moment I met him, I could envision him in the classroom inspiring kids to be their best and chase their dreams. He shared with me once how he expects his students to, “paint a picture with their words…describing something as ‘cool’ doesn’t cut it.”

His natural gift for relating to children was never more apparent than when I saw him hanging with my own kids last October.

Chris and my son Jared at the IllumiNations Dessert Party - Oct '10

Chris and my son Shawn during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Oct '10

In November of 2010, Chris and I attended a “Moms Night Out” for Annie’s Traverse Travels. We represented the Moms Panel together and answered Disney vacation planning questions for the evening. We had a blast, as always. This was the second time that we had done an event for Chevy (we also filmed a commercial together in April).

Annie's Traverse Travels Event in Hingham - 11/9/10

Last December, Chris and I flew down out of Boston together to welcome the new Panelists. As we waited in the lobby for others to arrive, Chris’ shirt caught a Cast Member’s eye. He handed Chris these Mickey stickers. Promptly Chris mentioned wanting to find kids to hand them out to.

Chris - Yacht Club lobby - Dec. 2010

I have so many wonderful memories of that weekend last December. From enjoying breakfast on the Boardwalk…

Enjoying breakfast on the Boardwalk - Dec. '10 (Marc's photo)

to Soarin’…

to Karamell-Küche…

Karamell-Küche - Also known as Heaven on Earth

to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party…

Chris pretending to be freezing in the snow- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - Dec. '10

to Osborne’s Spectacle of Dancing Lights and so much more. 🙂

Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Dec. '10

As many “magical memories” as I have from that weekend, there is also one particular point in time that really stands out to me for different reasons…

Taking a break from it all - Wilderness Lodge - Dec. '10

The above photo was taken moments after he proved, without a doubt, what an amazing friend he truly is. Chris knows exactly what I’m referring to when I say that. Deep down I knew that I could count on him and that he meant it when he told me that he’d, “Always have my back.” Not only did he help me through a frustrating situation that temporarily “knocked me off my horse”, but he allowed me the few moments that I needed to vent. After that, he was also right there with an essential pep-talk about not giving people the power to upset me. Whether I wanted to hear it or not at the time 😉 …the advice was crucial. Like a brother, he provided unfailing support, “tough love” and distraction. Words can’t begin to describe what that meant to me.

On April 6th of this year, we were invited to New York City for a Disney Cruise Line event. Chris and I drove down together, meeting bright and early in the morning.

Chris in NYC with Mickey - April '11

After the event, we took a few minutes to visit Times Square before heading home.

Chris, Ritzy, Kim O. & I in NYC - April '11

The event itself was fun and the announcement that Disney Cruise Line will be sailing out of New York City was exciting. However, the “road trip” with my dear friend was by far the highlight of the day for me. What amounted to nearly 10 hours of time in the car simply flew by. We talked about anything and everything…and further solidified our friendship.

I don’t know that I have even begun to do Chris justice in attempting to “paint a picture” of what he means to me. Suffice to say, I can only hope that I have been half of the friend to him that he is to me. I look forward to making countless more memories through the years. I’m incredibly blessed to have him in my life.

If you haven’t done so yet, take a moment to read Chris’ awesome contribution to our Parenting column on the Disney Driven Life:

Chris is on Twitter: @disneydadchris…but he isn’t tweeting (yet).  😉

Love ya, Chris!

*Want to get to know some more Walt Disney World Moms Panel Moms & Dads? I share a different Panelist with you each Monday! Here’s the link to all of them so far:

Be sure to stop back by next week!

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