Although O'Bryan was unaware that Strange had nominated her for the parade, she was touched when Strange revealed it to her.
"I felt honored, but not deserving," O'Bryan started. "I've always thought it would be exciting to do."
Excitement was what O'Bryan and Strange got when they stepped upon the Churchill Downs track and began to lead the 138 survivors to the paddock. Since the survivors were organized into groups according to years of survival, with less than a year under her belt, O'Bryan was grouped in the front. It was an event the two would like to continue to be a part of, something to mark the milestones O'Bryan will reach as a survivor.
"The response from the crowd was so emotional," O'Bryan said. "I almost felt like I was the only one out there. When I looked up in the crowd of people they were all clapping...some were crying...some were cheering and giving the thumbs up...some were waving. I think I had a permanent smile on my face the whole time!"
"I held back my emotions because my mom was happy and having a good time and I felt that warmth come over me and all the other women cheering," Strange recalled. “It was a surreal moment. It was a good moment."
Photo: Felicia O'Bryan