For well over a year I have been a supporter of Barack Obama for president. I was a supporter before he ever announced his candidacy. Back then I loved his passion for people and for service to our country. I loved his candor and his openness. I loved his dedication to his faith and his family. That was a year ago. I still admire and support him for all of those reasons and so many more. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear him speak in person. I heard that he would be coming to Minneapolis for a rally, and immediately logged on to his site and requested a ticket. I encouraged Kristin to do the same (okay, so I practically forced her). We were supposed to go see him several months ago when he was here, but Kristin was sick that day and we didn’t make it, so I was adamant that I would go to see him this time – with or without Kristin. This time he was coming to the Target Center – which holds 22,000 people. I was a little shocked that they decided to have it there – 22,000 is a lot of people. The doors opened at 1:30, so we decided if we were there by 1:45 we’d be fine. We arrived shortly before 2 and were directed to walk down the street to join the end of the line. As we walked we looked up at the skyway – every one we saw was full of people waiting in line. We decided against going into the warm skyway – figuring the line would be shorter outside in the cold. So we walked. One block – the line wrapped around the building. Two blocks – the line went over a bridge. Three blocks, four, five. It went down a side street and back up the other side. When we were sure it couldn’t possibly go any further, it turned and kept going. Well over a mile later, we finally found the end. We stood in the same spot for awhile. The wind whipped past us and the cold started to set in. Many people talked about whether to give up, walk the mile plus back, and just go home to watch it on tv or youtube later. Just when I was sure we or someone around us would make that decision the line would move a bit and slowly we made our way back up the path we had just come down. Eventually the Target Center came into view and slowly it was closer and closer. After about two hours in the cold (no coat!) we made it into the Target Center. Our fingers were stiff and toes were numb with the cold, but we were there in the building. We were immediately directed to head upstairs. We were some of the last to arrive and were seated up high in the “nosebleed” section. That was okay with me. I didn’t need to see every pore on his face – just wanted to hear him and what he had to say to those of us here in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. I know this is going to sound sappy, but when he was announced and came walking out and the amazing crowd of 20,000+ people erupted into cheers and applause tears came to my eyes, and I was completely overwhelmed with pride for our state, our country, and for this man that brought so many people from so many different backgrounds together. Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, old, young, fat, thin, rich, poor, democrat, republican, gay, straight…all brought together by this one incredible man. His speech was amazing – he touched on things important to the nation like security and health care as well as things important to Minnesotans like Paul Wellstone. He has done extremely well in the primaries and caucuses and continues to gain momentum each day. Why do I like Obama more than Clinton? His fresh look on how to get things done, his hopeful yet honest outlook on the future of this country, his solutions to the problems our country faces, his lack of “real” Washington political experience, and most of all, his ability to bring so many people from all different backgrounds together. Barack Obama is the first candidate of any kind to get donations from me. He is the first candidate I’ve gone to see in person. He is the first candidate that has truly inspired me. No matter how the election turns out, I know he will change the world. As we were walking to find the end of the line that day a few weeks ago, two older men were walking ahead of us. One turned to the other after walking for over ½ mile and said “this is what change is.” Amen, my friend.