Thursday came early with lots of rain and a drive from Charlotte to Cary/Apex and back.  It was a long rainy day but it was filled with lots of shining joyous people!  Upon arriving at Salem Middle School we were greeted by Marion Bhatt, chess teacher/coach at the school and the main reason that Robert and Phiona were scheduled to come.  Marion was incredibly hard working in arranging the visit and doing everything she could to have as many students attend the assembly and have them speak to not only the school but visit with the chess club specifically as well.

It was a beautiful day and a very special woman who helped Marion, Mrs. Bonita Young, a mother who is incredibly involved in the PTA and is from Kenya.  She was amazing, she also greeted us when we arrived and had fried chicken along with fruit and rolls for a snack after the assembly.  In addition to that, they had a special chessboard cake made for Phiona!  Robert and Phiona had a great assembly and the chess students really enjoyed the time to talk and play a few games with them.  It was so casual and easygoing, a perfect afternoon.

Following the chess club, Marion arranged for us to have dinner at a restaurant nearby before heading to Durham for the Blitz Tournament that was being hosted by Raleigh Chess Academy.  Again, just an easy dinner with easy conversation.  Bonita came by dinner with her son and they brought with them several goodies and presents for Robert and Phiona to take home, but not just for themselves either, she brought things for Robert’s little girls and for Phiona’s friends.  What an incredible woman!

Then it was off to the Blitz Tournament!  We headed to a hotel in Durham where Robert and Phiona were able to share their story and have a quick Q&A before making the first move with the Congressman.  It was definitely interesting to see a Blitz Tournament; everything is very fast pace and high energy.  Not your typical chess tournament from our perspective.

We would like to say thank you so much to Marion, Bonita, Salem Middle School and the Raleigh Chess Academy.  It was a very rainy day but again, you all did not let it effect the day or your attitudes!  It was so encouraging to see!

We drove back in some more rain to Charlotte after the tournament to our incredibly gracious hosts Alan and Tammy Wise’s house where we immediately have jumped in bed and plan to sleep in tomorrow.  Friday will bring a relaxed morning before speaking at Johnson and Wales and attending a fundraising event with some great friends from Charlotte, Lynchburg and hopefully sharing with some new ones too!