The Relay Refresh RoadTrip rolled into Harrisonville, Missouri, just outside of Kansas City, home of the 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals, to visit with Nikki Mathieson. As a past Relay Chair from 2012 through 2014, she is well known for her creative event ideas and her passion for Relay for Life in Second Life. While you may think you know Nikki, our journalistic deep dive into what makes this woman tick, will leave you smiling as it did us.
When not involved in Relay in Second Life, Nikki’s life centers around her four adult sons and their families. Her favorite thing in the whole world is spending time with her six year old grandson and sharing with others about him and his amazing life. And speaking of amazing, the stories of her using technology and hunting down defendants who have “skipped bail” are true. She said she "writes bonds and hunts bond jumpers". She did however tell us that when it comes to “kicking in doors” like we all see on TV, she “lets others” handle those kinds of situations.
Nikki came to Second Life eleven years ago. She had played other online games like WOW and Diablo. She was also a member of an online chat group that centered around the TV show Big Brother. At the end of BB7, a bunch of the woman from the BB chat room decided to give Second Life a try and Nikki decided to join them. So she came to SL with a built in group of friends and recalls their early days of living together in a high rise building. Most of the group stayed together as they bought their own land on the same sim. Nikki shared a funny noob story with us about being “caged” and thinking she was going to have to spend the rest of her Second Life “caged”. She even called Linden Labs for assistance and little did she know that all she had to do was “relog” to be free.
She told us she just bought a new HP Omen computer with 16MB of RAM and an NVIDEA 1070 graphics card to replace her seven year old computer that got her through two years as Relay Chair. Nikki talks to family and friends on her Galaxy 8 cell phone and can frequently be found on Skype chatting up Relay. She has 19,894 items in her inventory and works hard to “never let it go over 20,000”.
When asked about music she said she “likes it all”. Everything from the Eagles to Keith Urban and she really likes Keith’s new song “The Fighter” with Carrie Underwood. She proudly told us that one of her sons recently took her to see Les Miserables and she has been enjoying listening to the music from that show. Her favorite Second Life live artist is Luciano Lionheart who is winning his battle with cancer and hopes to return to the grid soon. And of course, one cannot mention Nikki Mathieson and live music without talking about the very talented Damian Carbenell, who she manages and proudly calls son. And we did not even bother to ask about her favorite TV show because everyone knows she rarely misses an episode of Big Brother.
If you know Nikki then you know that she loves to laugh and sharp wit is her favorite kind of humor. Her grandson especially makes her laugh and she shared with us a story of a haircut she had when he was 3. It was cut shorter than what she wanted and brought her to tears. After going to someone to fix it, her son told her grandson that he better be nice to grand mom and compliment her haircut. With a big laugh, Nikki told us that when she arrived home her grandson said “nice haircut cry baby”. In the words of Art Linkletter, “kids say the darndest things”.
When asked about her hero, Nikki told us it was more a type of person than a specific person.
People who “despite the obstacles and sadness that life hands out, they keep going, get through the turmoil and forgive.” She also has a special place in her heart for the law enforcement community with two of her sons being police officers. Nikki impressed us as a woman who clearly lives outside herself, observing people who are heros and learning from them.
Among those woman who Nikki came to SL with, was Triz Aster, who in real life worked for the Canadian Cancer Society. She knew about Relay for Life and encouraged all of the women from the BB chat group to begin Relaying in Second Life. Nikki got involved “right out of the gate” and has been active ever since. Over the last 11 years she has been on Relay teams, she has been a Team Captain, she has been a Relay Mentor, she has been Activities Chair for Relay Weekend, she has served as Relay Co-Chair, and she has served two years as Relay Chair.
Nikki is always dreaming about the next big event and she has a way of bringing ideas for events to life. She has a passion for planning and executing projects with lots of moving parts. It all started when she planned a full sim Carnival with her very first Relay Team. The genesis of many big Relay events like The Home and Garden Expo, The Christmas Expo, The Breedables Fair, and The Avi Choice Awards all started out as creative ideas in this amazing woman’s mind. Each one of these events have their own story and have touched the lives of so many people and have helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Relay For Life in Second Life. While still involved with many of these events, her mind continues to dream about the next big thing. She even shared with us a sneak peak of an idea mulling around in her mind about showtunes, live artists, and staging scenes and performances for all to enjoy. And knowing Nikki, whatever it is will be spectacular.
Over the years, there have been many people that Nikki has Relayed for in RL & SL . So many people with so many stories, but perhaps none more poignant than that of her very good friend Jill Mackenzie. A strong woman, Jill has worked side by side with Nikki over the years on numerous Relay projects. Perhaps their greatest accomplishment was The Avi Choice Awards. Nikki said “we worked our asses off bringing the Avi Choice Awards to the grid”. Starting in 2011, the Avi Choice Awards spread like wildfire “giving deserved recognition to thousands of creators, designers and wonderful talents”. It was an amazing run that they can both be very proud of as two very talented women. Today as Jill battles cancer in a hospital in Canada, Nikki is in constant contact with her very good friend and told us with tears in her eyes that she is more determined than ever to keep fighting for the cure and win the battle against cancer.
This Relay season, Nikki has again stepped up, along with three other past Chairs, to work together on a new Event Leadership Team designed to guide Relay For Life in Second Life in a new direction. She told us that Relay weekend is her favorite part of Relay, “the team of people who all come together, the spirit, the dedication, the devotion, the determination, a purpose for Second Life”.
Perhaps the best part of our two hour chat with Nikki was her describing Relay Weekend 2014, at the end of her two years serving as Relay Chair. She was TP’d by Stingray9798 Raymaker, the American Cancer Society Staff Partner to Second Life, to the top of a castle so they could look out over the vast expanse of the 40 Relay sims. She told us she remembers him saying “look out over what we have done” and with tears in her eyes she recalled him encouraging her to “remember this for the rest of your life.” A life changing moment created by an empowering ACS Staff Partner to help Nikki “pass the torch” to the next Chair. To us it seemed in a way reminiscent of the infamous Martin Luther King mountaintop speech. Like Dr. King, we felt that Nikki had her mountaintop moment and she knew as she looked out over all those Relay sims that everyone as a group would get to the promised land.
Eleven years and still going strong, Nikki Mathieson’s passion for Relay has never waivered and in fact is stronger than ever. Talking with her you know straight away that this amazing woman has purple coursing through her veins. And given a chance, she will have you wanting a purple blood transfusion. It was truly inspiring to spend time visiting with someone who has done so much for so many and like MLK, this woman too has a “DREAM”.
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