March 29th, 2010
Having a Blonde Moment: Interview With the Road Show Blondes
The Road Show Blondes, Jayme Lamm and Aimee Woodall, are less than a week away from leaving the friendly confines of the Loop and embarking on their road trip benefiting suicide prevention. Thankfully for us, they took some valuable time away from their preparations to answer a few questions about their hopes for the trip, the Jed Foundation, and moonlight cow milking. Be sure to come to the send-off party at Lucky’s on Wednesday.
1) Can you tell me a little something about the Jed Foundation and why you chose them as the beneficiary for the Road Show?
Aimee: As the nation’s leading organization working to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students, The Jed Foundation is protecting the mental health of students across the country. When we decided to take a road trip for charity, we basically had a long talk about what causes were out there, and what we’d been affected by personally. When we reached the topic of suicide, and told each other our personal experiences, it just seemed like a natural choice. We wanted to support something we were passionate about. Now that we’ve been working with the cause, and have witnessed some resistance to or fear of the issue, we’re certainly glad we selected it.
Jayme: The big “selling” point for me was the focus on college-age students. With Charity Chicks I’ve become accustomed to doing my research on non-profits and the “about us” and “why” statements are the ones that touch my heart the most. I think it’s so empowering that a mother and father who lost their son, Jed, to suicide can take something so tragic and unthinkable and turn it around to help millions of others. They aren’t afraid to share their story because they know it will help others and that’s the most empowering, passionate thing a family can do. I commend them and am so eager to help their cause and get the story of Jed and others out there.
2) Suicide is a very sensitive and sometimes disturbing topic. Case in point, when I was talking to someone about Road Show Blondes their response was “sounds morbid.” Do you think this effects your effort at all?
Aimee: Certainly. We’ve had a sponsors turn us down because they’re “uncomfortable with the topic,” a response I find tragic and disturbing. But these responses further inspire us to bring the issue to light. Since we started Road Show, we’ve had people contact us from all over the globe (literally) with personal stories of how suicide has affected them. We’ve had people reach out for advice. We’ve had people tell us about a parent they lost, a best friend they lost, a child they lost. We’ve even had people tell us they’re contemplating taking their own life. And we’re just two gals who decided to take a road trip to generate awareness about the issue, we’re certainly not trained experts. When someone says the issue is “morbid” or it makes them uncomfortable, our energy levels go up. Our frustration levels may go up a bit too, but we take that energy and use it for the cause. I guess you could say it makes us even more determined to find the resources we need to get people talking about it.
Jayme: That’s half the battle…people are embarrassed to admit they are depressed or have contemplated suicide. It’s not an embarrassing subject and we hope to get some candid and heartfelt answers through our 2000+ mile trek. I truly hope to run across folks that aren’t afraid to share their story first hand about being depressed, possibly attempting suicide or having lost a friend to suicide. Different topics/stories/stunts are each going to reach different audiences – maybe it’s a 45 year man in his cubicle in Houston, TX or maybe a 13 year old girl home sick from school because she’s being bullied in Illinois – they will each connect on different stories and different interviews.
Aimee: As an aside, we have lots of resources at our disposal, and have been connecting these folks to the proper resources. We’ve even been contacted a second time by people letting us know how much the resources helped, sometimes taking it a step further to say they don’t know what they would have done without us!
4) If you hadn’t chosen Jed Foundation, what would have been next charity/cause to support?
Jayme: There are so many close to my heart, but luckily as co-founder of Charity Chicks Houston I’m able to support and raise awareness behind numerous causes each year. I really like TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms) because it has a visual message that would be easy and fun to do on the trip…but I think we are in the works to support them here locally in Houston in early 2011!
Aimee: Maybe that’ll be our next trip?
5) This seems like the perfect amalgam of both of your interests: Aimee, with your “performance art” style of marketing with Black Sheep and Jayme, with your involvement with Charity Chicks Houston. What has been the most difficult thing in planning the Road show?
Jayme: Haha….how about we both are so “Drunk on ambition” as I like to refer to it, that we decided in less than a month to do this. We are both girls that want to do everything the right way…not half ass…so there is a lot of planning and logistical stuff that we are STILL working through! We are loving the support from towns everywhere so it makes the planning a tad more interesting and well, difficult trying to accommodate it all!
Aimee: The clock has definitely been working against us. A lot of folks we’ve approached about sponsorships have a “submission process” that takes months. We catch ourselves saying, “If we just had more time!” quite a bit.
6) What has been the most rewarding thing thus far?
Jayme: Just the little thank yous we’ve received via email and twitter. I’ve received a few DMs from folks I talk to everyday on twitter and I’m amazed and blessed that they feel close enough to share their own battles/issues with depression and suicide. Just reaffirms why we are doing this… it affects people everywhere that you don’t even suspect.
Aimee: The most rewarding thing for me has been connecting with people to spread awareness. We’ve met lots of folks on Twitter (@roadshowblondes) who share our passion for the cause. We’ve learned a lot about other organizations that are out there supporting suicide prevention, and it’s been amazing to share that bond and support each other for a common goal. Social media really brings the world together, and when a cause like this is involved, incredible things can happen.
7) You mentioned that you have gotten an outpouring of messages from the loved ones of those who have experienced a loss to suicide. How has that effected you personally and your goals for the Road Show?
Jayme: As I mentioned in a blog post I wrote about my college friend, Kate, there is an image I can’t get out of my head. It’s of her parents packing up her dorm room and taking her stuff home – without her. If I can prevent one mother or father or brother or sister or best friend from having to go through what they did, this entire trip, all the crazy planning, late nights, jitters, all of the above, will be 110% worth it. Each time we hear about another story related to this cause we are reminded that it is happening everywhere and people are only finding out or able to help when it’s too late.
Aimee: It’s really been shocking. I think it’s pretty safe to say that just about everyone has been affected by suicide in some way, whether directly or indirectly. Daily, I think, “If this many people are reaching out to us — two girls who decided to drive from Houston to NYC on a whim — how many people are out there, suffering in silence?” Maybe they reach out to us because we ARE just two girls… Whatever the reason, it has inspired us beyond words. I think it’s likely we’ll have to find some way to continue supporting the cause even after we return from New York. Knowing what we know now and knowing the way Jayme and I approach things, it would be hard to walk away (or even slow down). So keep an eye out…
8) Do you think that your title sponsor Safety Vision (and their mobile video surveillance) will get to know Aimee and Jayme just a little too well by the time you reach New York City?
Aimee: I think they may know us a little too well already! They’ve been AMAZING. Most sponsors would send a check and be done with it. Safety Vision is supporting our mission to the core. We get daily calls and emails from them, recommending stops, stunts and even additional sponsors. It’s fantastic camaraderie that helps as much as, if not more than, the financial support. We couldn’t do it without them!
Jayme: Depends if we can get a sponsor car in time to install their surveillance equipment…hint, hint to potential sponsors!
9) You have a list of major cities through which you’re planning on traveling through. It seems like a bit of a stretch to call a place like Somerset, Pennsylvania a “major city.” Your response?
Aimee: When we roll into town, it’ll be major. Alert the press.
Jayme: Haha, well funny story. Since Aimee and I have been so insanely busy planning this (and continuing our full-time jobs in the meantime) we hired an “intern” to help us out: My dad, based in Virginia, recently retired. He’s bored and sits at home most of the time, so we dished the journey and itinerary over to him. Not to mention I’m heinously horrible with directions and that type of stuff…he’s actually quite worried about us actually making it to NY!
10) So far you have a baker’s dozen of challenges. Which one(s) are you most nervous of having to try to attempt?
Jayme: Knock on wood, but none so far (call it my adrenaline)! These are all things I WANT to do and think will be hilarious. I am hoping someone will come up with a stunt or challenge that will peak my interest a bit more….so help me out! I am hoping someone donates to the cause to go skydiving but am nervous that no matter how much they donate, Miss Scared of Heights, Aimee, may still be too scared! :)
Aimee: Welp, I’d prefer not to eat meat. But, I guess, for the right price…I’ll get over it. And I’m terrified of heights. I have no desire to sky dive. So if someone really wants a show… fork over the dough for that one. There will definitely be tears.
11) On the other end of the spectrum, which ones are you looking forward to (besides playing in a McDonald’s ball pit, of course)?
Jayme: Not just the milking of the cow, but I’m picturing to drive by a farm and sneak in to milk a cow…call it a stealth milking or something along those lines, but that seems crazy fun times to me and I know my friends are most interested in seeing me do that one!
Aimee: I’d definitely like to watch Jayme do an impromptu rap. Oh wait, do I have to do it too? I’m completely tone deaf. My clip might be compared to the likes of the American Idol “Pants on the Ground” guy. But hey, he got some attention. Seriously though, I know my favorite part will be the people we meet along the way. It’s going to be an unforgettable journey.
12) Allowing the public to submit challenges and/or questions for you is a scary proposition all by itself. Do you think you’re tempting the likes of 4Chan’s /b/ with such openness?
Aimee: With social media, there are always risks. I serve on a not-for-profit board dedicated to building awareness about online privacy and other related issues (http://awareof.us/), so Jayme and I aren’t going into this blindly. We’ll be fairly cautious about what we put out there, especially with regard to our whereabouts. We also hope that people will consider the cause when submitting requests and questions, and have respect for it. That being said, we know that keeping the attention of our followers will require serious entertainment value… so we intend to offer just that — serious entertainment.
Jayme: Not gunna lie…no idea who 4 chan’s b is (Interviewer’s Note: That’s probably a good thing.)? But we did put a little caveat that we are able to turn down challenges and questions as they must be suitable to all our audiences!
13) Being that you two are relatively new friends, how do you think this (up to) ten day road trip will effect your relationship?
Aimee: We may have the same hair hue, but we couldn’t be more different. But I think that’s what makes our little duo so great. There’s a balance. Our skills complement each other. Now, I’ve never been in a car with anyone for 10 straight days, so I’m sure we’ll find a way to create drama. Now whether that’s between the two of us or for the sake of Road Show, you’ll have to watch and see!
Jayme: We’re going to learn the dirty dirty about each other…I think we should both agree to sign waivers that whatever happens on the road show stays on the road show (minus the 99% of the stuff that will be videoed, tweeted, photoed, etc.)….oh boy…here we go!
14) Pink’s or Romano’s Pizza?
Jayme: PINKs ALL.THE.WAY.
Aimee: Pink’s. Fo SHO.