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The Journey of Sam Billetdeaux's Elephant!

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Drum Roll, Please!

I finally have an identity! I’ve always known I am unique, but now I feel complete! Sam sure did have a hard time choosing just the right name for me among so many creative entries. See for yourself! 

Beta Cellephant! How cool is that?!

Now give me a drum roll, please (my stubby, red toes don’t play a cadence well) as I announce the winning families!

Supplying my name and winning $100 to spend at Walgreens, plus my eternal gratitude is…

The Jarcho Family from Ridgefield, Connecticut!

And the Grand Prize winner, who will choose from one of five Disney Luxury Villas to reside in for five nights, enjoying The Most Magical Place on Earth is…

The Hrinkevich Family from Westfield, New Jersey!

Many thanks to everyone who joined me on this adventure and offered up a special name just for me!
And kudos to all of you who, like my good buddy, Sam, support the cure-focused work of the Diabetes Research Institute!

Everyone knows that an elephant never forgets. I’d like for you humans to remember something for me: The DRI has one goal – to cure diabetes. Until that day, your DRI family will be there to give you a Dose of Hope!

In the Big Apple!

We made it! We finally reached the end of our journey. Traveling all those miles, from South Florida and the DRI Foundation, the Love and Hope Ball auction, to Orlando for the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Conference and meeting so many nice families, to meeting Dr. RiCUREdi at the DRIF booth, to packing up and heading out, to reaching Atlanta, to drinking wine at Local Roots, to hiking the Appalachian Trail, to watching planes land over the Potomac River, I'm finally reunited with Sam! I'm so happy to see him again and have such a wide smile! My tusks are practially wagging!

Finally reunited with Sam in New York City

I need a little help getting up all those stairs to Sam's apartment. Luckily he and Neal can give me a hoist!

Neal and Sam bring the elephant up the stairs

I can't wait to see my new home - and get my new name! Check back to find out what it will be!!

On to Virginia!

Whew! I was so pooped after that long hike! But it was so beautiful to see the mountains of the Appalachian Trail. Neal did wait up for me, but it took us several hours to take that hike.

Now we've arrived in Virginia - we're almost in New York City. But we have a few more adventures to experience before we arrive there. We checked into the Crystal Marriott Gateway Hotel and met Adrian. She was nice enough to find a suite room for us - I need a lot of room to stretch out, you know!

Sam's Elephant at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Washington, DC

And our room has a terrific view - I can see the Potomac River and the planes coming in to land at the airport!

Sam's Elephant looks out at the Potomac River

I need to remind you that time is running out! The "Name Sam's Elephant Contest" (that's me) is almost over - so please help! And don't forget to keep checking back on this blog to read about the rest of my journey - and to find out what my name will be! I'm so excited!!

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Did you think we were just going to take in the sights? The next thing I knew, we were at one of the trailheads. It looked so beautiful! All the trees and grass - and there was a path!

Neal Billetdeaux and Sam's Elephant at the Trail Head

Hmmm. I need to decide if I could hike a piece of the Appalachian Trail. It sounds like fun, but can I really make it all that way? How far is it?

Sam's Elephant at the Appalachian Trail Head

Wow! It's 12 miles! Can I really make it the whole way? Well, I guess Neal will be with me so it might not be too bad. So we started on our way, admiring the beauty and taking it all in.

Neal Billetdeaux and Sam's Elephant starting their hike

Hey, Neal, wait for me! I'm not sure if I can keep up with him! Hey, WAIT FOR MEEEEEEEEE!

Neal Billetdeaux and Sam's Elephant on the hike

Here I go - but I still don't have a name. They have to call me, "Hey, Elephant," all the time. So please help Sam give me a name. Today is the deadline! Please suggest a name for a $5.00 donation each or make a $25.00 per name and be entered to win a 5-night stay at a Disney Deluxe Villa. It all goes to help the DRI find a cure for Sam and millions of others living with diabetes!

Lots of Wine at Local Roots

We made it to Roanoke, VA, and boy are we having fun. And we gave those folks at Local Roots, a farm-to-table restaurant, a BIG surprise when Laura and Neal brought me with them to have dinner! This one gentleman walked by our table and said, "I don't generally dine in restaurants that serve elephant." Of course, he had to make an exception this time!

We ordered some wine and I couldn't wait to taste it!!
Sam's Elephant wants some wine

First I asked Laura if I could have some, but she was kind of reluctant. She said I was too young to drink!
Sam's Elephant with Laura having some wine
Then I tried to see if I could persuade Neal to let me have some. But he didn't budge either!

Sam's Elephant with Neal having some wine

And I also tried to win over our server, thinking maybe she would sneak me a glass. Her name was Ellie (can you believe that!) and I thought since we may have something in common that she would be a push over, but she wasn't.

Sam's Elephant with Ellie the server

We had SO much fun there! Apparently, everyone in the restaurant loved having us, even the manager Brian, who gave me a high five when we were leaving!

Sam's Elephant with Brian giving a high five

Off we go to Washington, D.C. Wow, I can't wait to get there and see it. I'll be bringing you more fun stories on our journey to Sam's place in New York City, so check back - and don't forget to suggest a name for me!!

We're on the Road!

We are on the road and heading to New York City! After we left Orlando on Sunday, we went to Atlanta. I was so excited to see some cool stuff, like maybe take in a tour of Coca Cola or even head to an Atlanta Braves game. But we just stopped at the airport Marriott - and there wasn't a lot to see. It's also been quite a trip! Last night, we got so hungry that we ate all of Marissa and Adam's M&M's and a bag of Starburst candy. It helps keep my colors so bright!

Today we are heading to Cherokee, NC, along the Blue Ridge Parkway and it is so beautiful! When we got to the entrance, Laura and Neal took me out of the van so we could pose for a photo! While we were standing there, a couple in a blue convertible stopped and said, "There must be a good story behind this!" They should only know!!

Sam's Elephant and Laura Billetdeaux at the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway is so beautiful and we stopped along the way at one of the scenic overlooks.

Sam's Elephant and Laura Billetdeaux at the Waterrock Knob Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway

But a storm came rolling in and we had to get back into the car after we marveled at the site of nature at work. I was a little scared by Laura assured me that she wouldn't let anything happen to me. Besides, I know that New York City is going to look a lot different so I'm happy to get the chance to see nature while I can!

Sam's Elephant and Laura Billetdeaux watch the storm come in over the Blue Ridge Parkway

Keep following along as we make our way up to Sam. Don't forget - I need a name. Please make a $5.00 donation per name or a $25.00 donation plus a name suggestion and a chance to win a Disney Deluxe Villa!

The Elephant is Leaving the Building - Again!

Wow, it's been so much fun here at the CWD Friends for Life Conference. And I'm so sad this year's event is over. I saw so many kids meet up with friends they've had for years - and make new friends, too! I've met so many parents who have come back to meet up with others and attend different talks - and those who are here for the first time. It's been so wonderful - but now it's over :-(.

The staff of the DRI Foundation wrapped me up really well and handed me over to Laura. Now I'm getting packed up and ready to set out on our journey to Sam's home in New York. This is so exciting! I'm leaving my home at the Marriott World Center and it's a little scary, but I'm all bundled up so I don't see all the traffic! Whoa!! I an't see a thing!

And we got lots of help from our friend Nabil Elarbi, who helped put me in the huge van the Billetdeauxs are using for their big trip! We're heading out early tomorrow. Wow!

At the FFL Conference

What an amazing time I had at the FFL Conference. So many people came to see me in the DRI Foundation booth – and they suggested so many different names for Sam to choose from. So many kids and families came by to see me, like Ella! The name she suggested is so cute, but I'm not allowed to say!

And even Laura came by to give me a hug!

This year's FFL is going to be ending. It was a terrific week with all of the kids and I loved meeting so many people. They couldn't believe how big I am. Everyone thought I was so little, but I'm a REAL elephant so I'm big! You still have a chance to help name me!
Make a $5.00 donation per name to the DRI. Or, you can enter to win a 5-night trip to a Disney Deluxe Villa plus suggest a name for a $25 donation. It all goes to finding a cure for diabetes!


Guess Who?

What a long ride from South Florida to Orlando, but we made it! Sheryl and Karen took me out of the van. I couldn’t even see where I was going! But here I am, inside the HUGE Exhibit Hall at the CWD Friends for Life Conference. Guess who’s under the blanket!

Here I am! Wow. There are so many boxes and crates and trucks moving things around. This place is going to look so different when it's all set up. I'm so excited to meet everyone. And, I heard Dr. RiCUREdi is going to be here, too!

If you’re at FFL, make sure to stop by and meet me – and help give me a name! And you can also do it right here online. Suggest a name for me for $5.00 per entry, or make a $25.00 donation and be entered to win a 5-night stay at a Disney Deluxe Villa!

The Elephant Has Left the Building

Almost but not quite! What a week it’s been! Everyone here at the DRI Foundation has been packing up for the big trip to Orlando for the CWD Friends for Life Conference. And that means off I go to meet so many families – and to start my journey to Sam’s place in New York City!

They’re bringing so much stuff with them I don’t know how they’re going to fit me in. I overheard the staff in one of their meetings this week going over the whole packing list. Displays and forms and brochures and tee shirts (wow!) and signs (that let everyone know to come meet me at the booth. I’m so excited!). Then they started whispering about something. You would think I could hear them since I have such big ears, but they were talking so low. I think they have some really fun stuff planned for everyone at CWD. You’ll just have to come to the booth to find out. 

It’s been so great spending time with everyone here at the DRI Foundation office. I’ve learned so much about what they’re doing to find a cure for so many people with diabetes, like all the kids at CWD. I’m going to really miss everyone here but I know that I’m going to love New York and best of all, I’ll have a new name when I get to Sam’s place. 

So please help him name me! Donate $5.00 for each name or donate $25.00 plus get a chance to win a 5-night stay at a Disney Deluxe Villa. (Pssst…if you’re going to the FFL Conference, we have a special surprise for you so be sure to come by and enter!) 

See ya there!

How It All Started

Hi! I'm Sam's Elephant. Well, I wasn't always his. I was actually born (more like created) in Coral Gables, FL, by Marcie Ziv, a famous artist. She is so nice! And she always helps the Diabetes Research Institute. That's how this all started.

I'm Sam Billetdeaux's Elephant! Please give me a name.

After I was "born," she gave me to the DRI Foundation so I could be auctioned off to help raise money to find a cure for diabetes - and to have a new loving home. At first I was a little sad to be leaving Gallery Ziv, but then I was surrounded by all of these other really nice people at the DRI.

Then I learned that the auction I was going into would take place at the Love and Hope Ball! Wow, that sounded like so much fun! The next thing I knew I was at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa getting ready for the big night. They put me in the silent auction with other stuff, like diamond jewelry and designer purses and even a guitar signed by Barry Gibb. 

Soon, there were so many people staring at me. Some even came up close to check me out. I thought they would bid on me, but then they walked away. Then, all of a sudden, this young man name Sam, with a wide grin, excitedly came over. I heard him saying how much he really liked me and that he wanted to take me home. He said he just had to win me! YAY! I saw him write something on the bid sheet next to my trunk. Then he walked away! More people came over and looked at me. I kept watching for him and hoping he would come back before the auction closed. Then, I saw him and his family on the dance floor having a great time!  

The Billetdeaux family having a great time at the Love and Hope Ball benefiting the Diabetes Research Institute.  

Sam kept looking over at me, too, and he kept coming over again and again to make sure that he was the winning bidder. Then the auction closed and I found out he won me! I was so happy that I was going to have a new home with Sam!

The nice people at the DRI Foundation wrapped me up and took me back to the office. They told me that my journey to Sam's house would begin at the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Conference in Orlando - where everyone would have a chance to meet me and help Sam give me a name. 

Please help Sam name me! Suggest a name for a $5.00 donation to the DRI per entry OR for a $25 donation suggest a name plus enter to win a 5-night stay at your choice of a Disney Luxury Villa.

If you're heading to the FFL Conference, please stop by the DRI Foundation booth to meet me in person. And don't forget to check back and follow along on my journey to Sam!



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