Best Buddies Ambassador Shines in Las Vegas
The Beauty & Pin-Ups family is proud of its partnership with Best Buddies International, which is dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The following is the first in a series of profiles of the inspiring young men and women that make up the Best Buddies International family, and who have touched our lives immeasurably.
Katie Meade won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Even from TSA. She once lost her purse and found herself without an ID to get through airport security. So she did what any logical young woman would do: She whipped out a picture of her and Tom Brady. Yes, THAT Tom Brady.
TSA let her through.
And that’s Katie. For this pint-sized, turbo-charged spitfire, the letters N and O together don’t exist in her vocabulary. She doesn’t let the D word stop her, either. That word: “Disability.”
“I’m very positive. When I look at people with disabilities I go up to them and say ‘Hi.’ I wish more people would do that. We all have a heart.”
Yes, THAT Katie Meade.
Katie is 32. She’s a Taurus with a taste for Diet Coke and Garth Brooks. Her favorite color is “Patriot.” She loves her dog, Buddy, and her family. She is a living family tree, reciting every niece, grandparent and hometown. She’s “in the middle basically,” between her older and younger sisters, Christy and Kelly. The Meade family cheerleader lives with her mother and father, Becky and Tom, in Des Moines, Iowa, where she has tons of friends, adores downtown and the flowers, and has a favorite chicken enchilada place.
Katie is this, all of this, despite two open heart surgeries and three thoracotomies in the first three years of her life. She didn’t say no to life then, she wasn’t about to let a hole in her heart stop her at age 3. Now she uses that spectacular, sunny spirit to plug holes in the hearts of everyone she meets. Like a dam.
A Special Call
Katie joined Special Olympics when she was 8. Swimming, track and field were her sports; as a Global Ambassador, she traveled the world. “Special Olympics inspired me to become a better athlete,” she says. At the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, she introduced Bono to the stage. Yes. THAT Bono.
Katie recalls it with a cool grace and not a hint of boast or brag. “It was amazing. It was so awesome. I got the same glasses as him.”
Throughout high school, Katie was active on the swim team, manager of the softball team and ambassador Student of all Seasons. Joining Best Buddies International changed her life. “They inspired me to go out and travel the world and meet awesome friends and people with disabilities,” she says. She remembers names just like they were leaves on her own family tree: Nelson Mandela. Muhammed Ali. Rob Lowe…
“I go out and talk about Best Buddies and it’s changed my life for the better,” Katie says.
Family and Work
To Katie, family is everything, and her sisters are both bookends and inspiration.“I can learn from them and they can learn from me. I’m very close with my sisters. I love them very much,” she says. And like her sisters, she loves fashion. “I like to see myself just like them. I love being beautiful. I love having makeup on, I love doing my hair.”
Katie joined the team at the Polk County Treasurer’s Office after she graduated high school.“They’ve been seriously supportive of me in whatever I do,” she says. An office generalist, she delivers mail and deals with people. “I love my job. I never miss a day of work. I like to be in an environment with a lot of people.” She’s been there 13 years now.
A Best Buddy in Las Vegas
When Best Buddies International asked Katie to be an ambassador for Beauty & Pin-Ups as it launched a dynamic new hair care line in Las Vegas, Katie didn’t say ‘No.’ She hopped a plane with her parents and spent two exhausting days meeting distributors and even a few celebrities. Articulate and honest, Katie was the face of Best Buddies International, her message on point without so much as a notecard. “It’s exciting to talk about Best Buddies and get more people involved,” she says.
While there, Katie was invited to be the special guest of Janine Jarman, owner of Hairroin Salon and nominee for best salon design at the North American Hair Styling Awards (Basically the Oscars of hair). Her answer was an an enthusiastic ‘Yes.’ Katie walked the red carpet with Janine, and rocked the after-party like a pro. And yes, there was pizza.
“I love Vegas. I like to see different stuff. Different views,” she says. The slot machines and having her hair and makeup done pinup-style with the models every morning was a plus. “It’s amazing to get pretty. I love to get dressed up.”
In Las Vegas, Katie was the ultimate ambassador for an organization that changed her life. And in that role, she changed the life of every person she met. But in a city of lights, where everything, and everyone, glitters and spins and competes for attention, Katie drew hearts in like moths to a flame. It wasn’t the stunning models, the elegant setting, the beautiful new line of products, the live DJ and the buzz surrounding the launch that made Booth 13029 shine and come to life. It was the light of Katie Meade.
THAT Katie Meade.
A Little Bit More
What should people know about Katie? She’s fun. Outgoing. She has an awesome attitude and smile. One day, she wants her own apartment with Buddy and to learn how to drive. “I’m truthful. I’m honest. I have a good heart. I like people to look at me and see a 32-year-old woman who loves her life. I want to live my life and see what’s out there for me.”
And to Katie, beautiful means simply being yourself. “They can see me as an individual,” she says. “Don’t look at me as having a disability but abilities.”
And then there’s that not taking ‘No’ for an answer thing. THAT’s Katie Meade.