The Relay Refresh RoadTrip rolled into Lawrence, Kansas, a casual midwest town and home to the University of Kansas, to visit with Arizona Ballinger-Whiplash. A business professional, her career brought her to Kansas three years ago. She has moved around a lot with her job and has even had the opportunity to spend time in Russia. She told us that “she thinks of Maine as her home” and takes every opportunity to return there and visit with her grandmother. She recalled as a youngster “helping out on a lobster boat pulling up the traps”. Originally from Canada, Arizona is very proud of her dual citizenship.
Arizona was the very first person we interviewed to tell us she carries the newly released Blackberry KEY2 which she mainly uses for work. She told us she traverses the grid with her Windows 10 Asus laptop that she says “is chugging along nicely” with her well organized 32,166 item inventory. She came to Second Life 11 years ago during a “snowstorm” while looking at a website that listed multiplayer games. She was familiar with online gaming having played “Sims” so she decided to open an SL account.
Upon arriving in Second Life, she was immediately drawn to the “50’s - 60’s dance clubs” with their “poodle skirts and high heeled sneakers”. One of her first friends was a “very chatty host” from one of these clubs who offered to take her shopping. Their friendship grew over the course of several months. Eventually they wandered into the Legends Classic Rock Club, SL’s oldest club established in 2005, which was also home to T1 radio where she first met her partner Trader1 Whiplash.
When asked about a funny noob story, she recalled “going out to play golf” with Trader, who is a golfer in real life. We all laughed as she told us about taking “15-16 shots per hole”, “multiple mulligans” and a “backlog of people” behind her.
When it comes to music, No Roots by Alice Merton is her current favorite song. When asked about her favorite group, we learned she is a bit of a rocker when she told us AC/DC. A reality TV show junkie, like many of the Relayers we have visited with, Survivor and Big Brother top the list of her favorite shows, but she told us her all time favorite show is The Walking Dead.
Her good friend and fellow Canadian, Nuala Maracas, current Relay Chair, makes her laugh. Arizona “loves comedy” and has a dry sense of humor. She loves “Grace & Frankie on Netflix” starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda and we all laughed as she told us of some of her favorite scenes and their laughable one liners.
We were not surprised when she told us about her heroes. Both her grandmother and her partner Trader are inspirational to her. At 86 years old, she described her grandmother in Maine as the ”energizer bunny” who is always going and still cooks and hosts Christmas dinner for the family. Trader has inspired her with his strength over the years, as he has battled leukemia while at the same time being an integral part of the Relay For Life of Second Life community. She also mentioned Maya Angelou as a hero because of her “philosophies and teachings”.
Arizona has been Relaying in Second Life since the day she walked into Legends Rock Club and met Trader1 Whiplash 11 years ago. In June of 2007, she joined the Relay Rockers team, which has been in existence since 2005, and early on was made up primarily of people who worked at T1 radio. The event that is most closely related to the Relay Rockers is Bid Me Bald and Arizona shared with us the genesis of that novel idea. Trader was going through his chemo and Madeline Majestic, a team member, said she was going bald in SL to support him. They decided to make it a fundraiser and the rest is history. Over the years, the Bid Me Bald concept grew exponentially and now even includes the Lindens who for the second year in a row have raised considerable attention and donations.
The Relay Rockers Team has grown over the years and Arizona shared with us that the goal of their team has always been to “raise one million L$ and come in last”. In addition to Bid Me Bald, five years ago their team started RelayStock that was a spin-off of their Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back DJ event they had held for years. They wanted to do a 60’s Woodstock like music festival, replete with mud, hippie vans and tie dye’d everything, that would also include other teams. Arizona is the driving force behind RelayStock. She plays a huge role in designing the sim, building the music stage, which is the focal point of the weekend, and she invites and organizes the teams.
When asked who she Relays for, she obviously said Trader. She also Relays for herself, so that if she ever has to hear the words “you have cancer”, she will know that she had done what she could do to help find a cure. She also Relays for her grandmother who “recently had a scare but it turned out to be nothing”. Arizona has a special passion for advancements in early detection and diagnosis.
We next turned to what are her favorite parts of Relay. She quickly said Relay Weekend and especially the Opening Ceremony. She told us “everyone is there... all excited to get the weekend started... the largest number of people on the sims...” She loves “looking at the grid map and seeing all the green dots”. She likened it to Thanksgiving and the excitement of everyone being together in one place. She also told us that the Survivor/Caregiver Lap is very special to her.
If Arizona could say one thing to Relayers it would be “as long as you are Relaying from your heart... for the right reasons... then everything you do is right... just go ahead and do it... it will always be positive... talk to each other... be nice to one another…”
Arizona Ballinger-Whiplash is a passionate Relayer… part of the Relay Rockers Team since 2007… the driving force behind the annual RelayStock event… always looking for the next big idea… always willing to go the extra mile… and the grid is a much better place because of her...
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