Laura Bryant: Waco Nurse Lives Vegas High Life At ACM Awards
You win a contest, all expenses paid, to a major country-music awards show in Las Vegas. What happens next?
Photos courtesy of Laura Bryant L-R: Teresa Mitchell and "Dream Trip of a Lifetime" sweepstakes winner Laura Bryant the night of the 2012 ACM Awards in Las Vegas
Rocks Off will admit we had never even pondered that question until someone from Reliant Energy offered us a chance to interview the winner of Reliant's "Dream Trip of a Lifetime." The package deal included a three-night stay at the MGM Grand, tickets to this year's Academy of Country Music Awards (also at the MGM Grand), a taping of the CBS special Lionel Richie & Friends: A Lifetime of Hits, free shuttle transportation and some other cool stuff.
The winner turned out to be Laura Bryant, a registered nurse who lives in Waco but travels all across Central and East Texas as a wound-care specialist. The contest ran in conjunction with this year's Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, but Bryant won after a friend of hers posted a link to the sweepstakes on her Facebook wall. (Bryant has been to RodeoHouston before, she says, just not this year.)
"I was a little overwhelmed," says the single mother of two grown daughters who admits she had been feeling the empty-nest blues. "I thought it was so wonderful. It was the perfect time. I needed a little R&R."
Bryant's schedule is as tricky as someone whose job keeps them on the road most of the time can be, but eventually Rocks Off spoke with her by phone one afternoon last month.
Rocks Off: Why did you decide to enter the contest?
Laura Bryant: I really don't know. A friend posted it on my wall and said, "You should join!" So I thought, "Why not?" and I did. It's not something I normally do. I just did... to my surprise.
RO: Had you ever been to Vegas before?
LB: I have. That was my fourth trip, two on business and the one prior was a family trip. I took my mother and my daughters, who had never been there. This was my second time just for fun.
LB: Oh, I love them all. [At the awards] I really enjoyed seeing Sugarland. She [singer Jennifer Nettles] performed. I loved Lionel Richie. That was over-the-top, after that tribute. That brought back a lot of the '80s [laughs]. Of course Tim McGraw. I love music in general, so every one of them was enjoyable.
RO: Who was the first country artist that you really got into?
LB: You know, I would probably have to say Kenny Rogers. I loved him so much when I was growing up, and he actually performed out there too. I got to see him. And then after that probably Steve Wariner.
RO: What did you think of the awards themselves?
LB: Everybody was so wonderful. The J.D. Haas Company were our facilitators, and they were everywhere. They always had a smile. They were awesome. We stayed at the MGM Grand, and they were over the top. It was a wonderful trip.
RO: What all did they have you do out there?
LB: They had a concert/outdoor festival prior to the awards. They had different barbecue vendors all over, places you could shop, indoor-type kiosks, set up. That went on for two days, then we had that pre-outdoor concert. Then we had the awards night and the Lionel Richie taping.
Those were what they had tickets set up. During the day, we were pretty much on our own, but then they'd have buses that would take us wherever we wanted to go and get us back.
RO: Did you get to meet anyone?
LB: You know, I didn't. We met a couple of girls from Connecticut who ran into Eric Church and didn't realize who it was until a little bit later. Many of them were staying there at the MGM Grand too, so I'm kind of surprised we didn't run into anybody.