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Linda Lewis shares her experience of the trip to Huntington West Virginia

Part one of my trip to Huntington, West Virginia with Tonya:

Dear Tonya fans:

I've been wanting to share the wonderful time I had with Tonya in Huntington West Virginia. To say it is one of the most exciting moments of my life would be an understatement.

Tonya and I left for Huntington on Saturday, Oct. 16th.  We met up with Michael Rosenberg and his daughter Whitney at the airport in Pittsburgh. This is where we met with several of the other competitors also. Everyone had been traveling for quite awhile. It was so nice to meet everyone  in person. There we all got on a small prop plane for our final destination, Huntington WV. While in flight, the stewardess said that the pilot wanted to meet Tonya. She got to go into the cockpit, (no they didn't let her fly the plane) ha! But she said it was so much fun to see what the pilots see.

We finally arrived in Huntington around midnight. We were taken to our hotel, and tried to catch some sleep. The next day, we were taken to a practice rink, where Tonya got to go through her programs. There was a lot of press there, and thus started a string of interviews. Many of which I'm sure you've seen or read. I have to say, that Tonya was very impressed with the media. They treated her with respect while she was on and off the ice. I left a little early, as I had to so an interview with a reporter from England, via telephone. I got the privilege of riding back to the hotel in a van with Jumping Joe and Alexi. These are two of Kim White's favorites, so I asked if I could take a photo of them for her. They were very nice and obliged. Kim now is smiling, I'm sure, as I sent her the photo.  We ate dinner in our room, and met with Kim White. Kim traveled to Huntington with her mother.They drove more than 10 hours to get there. Kim is more than a fan, she has become a very close friend to Tonya and myself. Together with Stacey, Kim has a wonderful website for Tonya.Hats off to these nice laddies, as well as Terry Hall, Charlie Main and all the others with websites for Tonya. Without all of your continued support, I truly believe that none of this would have come to pass. It was really great to see her and her mom. We had a wonderful visit. .Monday we got to sleep in for awhile, and then it was off to the Huntington arena where Tonya got a chance to practice for that evenings first program. She had a good practice ( more media), and then we headed back to the hotel. By this time, the nerves had really taken hold of Tonya. I was very nervous too, but tried not to show it.She ate a small dinner, and then we headed for the arena. It was so exciting to be at this event. All of the other skaters were wonderful to Tonya. Each one congratulating her and wishing her good luck. She tried to relax, but as you know by now, she drew last to skate. So it was a long wait for her. She did her warm ups, and tried to keep herself calm. It helped a lot that the others there were so nice to her. I stayed near her, so I didn't get to see the other skaters programs until I watched it on ESPN Monday night. I was proud of all of them.

Finally it came time for Tonya to skate. It was a moment in history that we all have hoped for, and it was here. We walked through the curtain, and out to the rink area. I knew that Tonya was very nervous ( to tell the truth, so was I). They introduced her, and the rest is now history. I only hope that you were able to watch the event on TV. It all seemed quite surreal at the time. Tonya's music started, and she began her program. I think I held my breath for most of it. I was so proud of her. The crowd stood to their feet and gave her a standing ovation.There were shouts of "we love you Tonya". Even though it wasn't a perfect program, it was still a wonderful moment for all of us.  I don't know of to many people that could have even stood, not to mention skate under this kind of pressure. She handled it with class and a smile ( and some tears of pure joy!!) After she left the rink, there were hugs from everyone. Then on to more interviews. We finally got back to the hotel, and tried to sleep

Warmest Regards,

Linda Lewis