Well my leather brothers, it has been 11 months since being introduced to BootCo. by my pup, and 8 months since winning the title of Mr Queensland Leatherboy 20114, and what a journey it has been. If you asked me then, if I thought I would be flying across to the other side of the world to represent you as your bootblack in an international competition, I would of asked for some of what you were smoking.

But yet, here I am three days out from flying out to Chicago. The support and encouragement I have received from our community has been both overwhelming and humbling and I would like to thank each and every one of you. It is a long list from everybody who had their cars washed, and the volunteers who so selflessly gave up their time and Blair for his support. I would also need to thank every one of those that contributed to my crowd-funding campaign to every brother who placed their boots before me to clean.

I do need to make special mention and thank you to the BootCo. Committee for their continued support and encouragement and to my Sir who started me on this journey. My greatest thanks must go to my other Sir Kobi Cooke. It is not lost on me that I will be travelling with his husband, without him, and also me without my pup.

Our respective husbands are not able to travel with us, but they will be in the forefront of my mind and I will carry them with me throughout the journey. It will always be a less than perfect experience because the both of you will not be there to share it with us. In the end, without your support and trust this would not be happening.

The other day, some one asked me how bad I want to win IMBB, and they were a little surprised when I responded that whilst it would be an incredible honour, and a major bonus to the IML weekend, it really is not a big deal if I don’t win.

I explained that I chose IMBB because I wanted THAT experience. I wanted the uniqueness of THAT event. I wanted the contest weekend to be something that I would savour and be proud of. Winning would certainly be the cherry on top, it isn’t just about winning.

I am a bootblack. I don’t need a patch or medallion to tell me that. I am reminded every time I am working the chair and someone sits down and shares their time with me.

My goal for this contest is to be present and to represent you with honour and humility. Tomorrow, I will put a square of black leather in my new kit to continue to remind me of that. For, as long as I am present for my time in Chicago, then I will have been able to fully experience what I was looking for… and maybe along the way, the judges and attendees will like what they see.

For me, it is not about the destination but rather the journey along the way.

Finally, I would like to say a one last thank you to each and every one of you, and I look forward to keeping you up to date on Facebook and on my return to Brisbane.

13 – BootCo. BootBlack