The awards ceremony begins, and everyone returns to their seats. I prepare backstage and we’re signalled toward the ramp at the appropriate times. We go in our groups, but this time it doesn’t matter what order we line up in. My category is almost at the end. I’m on the ramp for the last time. My feet throb with pain from spending the day in six-inch heels. My muscles ache from flexing. I’m exhausted, but grateful I not only stepped on stage, but didn’t fall or forget any of my poses. The announcer calls out names and numbers of all the winners in the various categories, and the crowd cheers. The stage manager directs us onto the stage. It’s packed with competitors, some holding trophies.
“Now to present the trophies in the Masters Figure Category,” he says. “In third place we have…,” and he reads out a winner’s number and name. A woman walks to the centre of the stage beaming and is presented with her trophy.
“In second place we have contestant number 199, Angie Burke.” The crowd cheers. I remain motionless. I must have heard him wrong. There’s no way. I feel a hand on my back and hear one of my teammates saying, “Go. That’s you.” I walk to the centre of the stage in complete disbelief and shock. An official approaches me and places a beautiful trophy in my hands.
This trophy is the culmination of four years of determination and dedication. Quite an accomplishment, considering on September 23, 2013, at age forty-six, I suffered a large stroke. I was left with epilepsy, had no use of my left side, had no vision on my left side, experienced seizures, and significant cognitive deficits. This book chronicles my journey back.