My Experience in New York and the HALO Awards

By: Josh Abrams

My name is Josh. I have been part of Joshua’s Heart Foundation for five years. On November 15, 2015, I returned from a trip to N.Y.C. with Joshua. I went there along with Ceci, Ceci’s mom, and Thalia in order to honor and support Joshua in a major milestone; receiving a Nickelodeon HALO Award. I was very excited about being asked to attend the event, as I had heard many great things about it. I was very proud to see my good friend and classmate, Joshua, up on stage doing his thing and getting his award for making a difference in the world. I am writing this blog to tell you about my experiences there and the impact it made on me.

On Thursday November 12, 2015, I went straight to the airport from school to catch my 5:35 pm flight to N.Y.C. with Thalia, Ceci, and Ceci’s mom. Unfortunately when we got to our departing gate, we found out that our flight had been delayed for an hour and a half. It wasn’t so bad though, as now we had more time to socialize and talk about what we were going to do on our trip. We eventually boarded the plane at about 6:30 and took off promptly at 7. The flight was smooth, and I slept most of the time. We started our descent at about 9:45 pm and landed at LaGuardia around 10. We had no checked baggage, so we went straight out to the arrivals terminal in the brisk, cold air of Queens, New York.

Originally I was supposed to head over to our hotel, the Affinia Dumont, along with Ceci, her mom, and Thalia. Instead, I went over to my Grandma’s house in Riverdale and spent some time with her. I arrived at her house a little past 11 pm; I settled in and laid out my pajamas for that night and my outfit for Friday. Soon thereafter, my grandma and I ate dinner, and then she introduced me to a board game from her generation called Hi-Q. We played for a while, and eventually I went to sleep at around 12:30 am.

Friday morning I woke up at around 7 and my grandma and I ate bagels and lox. We started watching TV in her room on her 25-year-old TV. I soon realized that it made a high-pitched noise when it was on, and my grandma realized that she couldn’t even read the screen because the picture was so bad. So we did what any sensible person would do, and we went to Best Buy on a quest to buy a new TV. We soon settled for a Samsung Smart TV and were on our way home to install it. As we got home to install it, we had to remove her old Sony TV. Little did I realize how much these boxy televisions weigh. As we removed it, the base of the TV shattered into a million pieces. We eventually got the old TV out of her room, cleaned up the shattered pieces, and soon we had installed her new TV. She was extremely happy to find that she had a TV that she actually enjoyed, and it put a smile on my face.

At around 2 pm, I was in a cab headed to the Affinia Dumont. I arrived at around 2:45 and checked in at 2:50. I dropped my bags in my room and headed over to the Plaza hotel to meet Ceci and Thalia for lunch. After lunch, we walked around Manhattan and we eventually ended up in Times Square. We took some cool photos, and then we left and ate at a cafe. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel for some downtime before Joshua would come back from rehearsals, and before we would go out to eat dinner. So, I invited some friends over and we hung out for about an hour and a half, and Joshua hung out with us for the last 20 minutes. At that point, I had to say bye to my friends because we had to order dinner. Joshua, Ceci, and Thalia had mac and cheese and I had a caesar salad with grilled chicken. Afterwards, the four of us hung out in the hotel room and played cards for about two hours. Eventually we fell asleep at around 12:30 am.

Joshua and I woke up at around 7:45 Saturday morning. This was the big day. When I say big, I mean REALLY BIG. This was the day Joshua was getting honored at the 2015 Nickelodeon HALO Awards! At around 9:00 am, Joshua and I walked to Starbucks to get some breakfast, and brought it back to the hotel room. After we finished eating, I accompanied Joshua to the 19th floor, where the makeup artists were doing makeup on the nominees. After talking with them for a bit, Joshua and I went back down to our room. Joshua soon was on his way to the final rehearsal for the HALO Awards. At around 10 am, Ceci, her mom, Thalia, and I were on our way to SOHO, where we wanted to walk around and look at all the little shops. We came by a cute cupcake shop, so we went in and bought some cupcakes. A little later we walked on a beautiful path by the Hudson River leading to Battery Park. Eventually we found ourselves at a nice Italian restaurant called Harry’s Italian, which is right across the street from One World Trade Center. After we ate lunch, we walked to the One World Observatory and the 9/11 memorial fountains.

At 3:20, it was time to head over to the HALO Awards. We soon arrived at Pier 36 at Basketball City, where the show was being held. We walked passed the orange carpet to the line in which we entered the warehouse. We walked into a vast space filled with music, food, celebrities, crazy lighting, and fun. We found a banner that had Joshua’s Heart on it, so we took a picture in front of it. Soon, we stood next to the stage and got ready for the show to start. Nick Cannon first came out and announced what the show was about (Helping and Leading Others) and then promptly introduced Joshua and the other nominees. We cheered as we saw Joshua come on stage, and I think I speak for all of us who went when I say that we were very proud to see him up there. Soon, Flo Rida came on stage and performed a few songs, most notably GDFR. After that, there was an activity where all the nominees’ foundations would be able to win money, and in total, each foundation received around$25,000. Afterwards, there was a performance by DNCE, whose lead singer is Joe Jonas, and they performed, “Cake by the Ocean.” After that, there was a performance by Tori Kelly who sung, “Should’ve Been Us.” Finally, Fifth Harmony performed their biggest song, “Worth It.”

Since the concert part of the awards show was now mainly over, the regular audience left and we stayed for an after party. People were dancing, eating, taking pictures, and signing petitions to end hunger and end use of tobacco products. We eventually found Joshua roaming around and we all congratulated him. Soon thereafter, Thalia and Ceci got lost, so Joshua and I walked around thanking people who made this event possible, and talking to actors from Nickelodeon TV

shows. We took some pictures, and eventually met back up with Ceci and Thalia on the orange carpet, at which point we took even more pictures.

About 20 minutes later we were in the limousine with the other nominees on the trip back to our hotel. I talked to the other nominees about what their foundations do and how they do it; what they had to say was truly amazing. I received a good amount of leadership advice, and learning how to put thoughts into action. Once we got to the hotel, Josh, Ceci, Thalia, and I went to a Starbucks for some drinks and soon returned to the hotel room. We talked for a while about the event, what we had accomplished, and about our trip as a whole. Eventually the four of us rented the new “Fantastic Four” movie, and I can assure you that the movie was anything but fantastic. Both Joshua and I agreed on this. At that point, we had to go to sleep because we had a travel day on Sunday.

Sunday we woke up and went straight to the airport. We got on our plane at 9:30 am, and I tried to sleep on the flight, but it seems that God had other plans. So, Joshua and I talked about how much fun we had and how exhausted we were, and then we watched a show starring Neil Patrick Harris. We finally landed at around 1 pm, we said our goodbyes to Ceci, her mom, and Thalia, and then we got into our limo on our way home. Once I got home, my parents we very happy to see me, and I thanked them so much for allowing me to go. It was an amazing experience talking to nominees, getting advice, and learning new leadership and organizational skills. I now feel more capable to lead projects within the foundation. The people I met are truly incredible, and it was amazing to see how thankful people are to know that others care about them. I am so happy I was able to go, and this trip goes to show that people really appreciate others who help to make the world a better place.

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