BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Over 1,200 people gathered at the Rabobank Arena on Wednesday night to support Hoffman Hospice during their Voices of Inspiration fundraising event.
Hoffman Hospice is a facility that helps provide patient and family care to those in need, regardless of their terminal diagnosis or ability to pay.
The gross amount of funds raised at the event totaled to over $155,000.
The evening included a live and silent auction, entertainment, and several surprise guest speakers. But, the highlight of the evening was the keynote speaker, Michael Phelps, a 28-time Olympic gold medalist and world champion swimmer.
Below is an exclusive transcription of the raw media interview with Phelps:
Q: You mentioned being able to take some time and look back on this amazing career. What do you think of it?
A: Well, I haven’t gotten through all of it. Throughout my life, I basically went from one meet to another to another to another and just went to the pool and trained. So, for me, I never had time to kind of sit back and live the moments and memories that I had throughout my career. So, for me, I was able to take my family to Beijing. We were at the water cube. And, being able to go back there, I basically replayed every race in my head and was able to relive everything I said. I was able to relive all the memories and the pain that I went through that week. So, for me, that’s where I’m at in my career. I’m still going from ’08 to ’12 and ’12 to ’16.
It’s still crazy to look at the medals. Like that’s…insane. I mean, just thinking I had a dream of wanting to win one Olympic gold medal.
So, for me, being able to come back and win 5 more golds this summer was icing on the cake.
You know, it’s just…it was a good way to go out and being able to have my family and our son there. Like, I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Q: What message are you hoping to deliver this evening?
A: For me, being able to be here to help raise funds for an amazing, amazing cause, number one, is an honor. And, number 2, for me, my life wasn’t absolutely perfect. I had really good, like really big highs and I had the worst lows. I found myself in really bad, dark places. So, for me, being able to show that anything is possible, anything you put your mind to and you work at can happen, whether you’re a kid or an adult. For me right now, being able to deliver that message but also try to help, you know, for me with my foundation trying to help kids to be water safe and everything that I still have. I mean, I’ve, I have goals that are extremely lofty that I’m retired, but I’m still working probably more than I ever did before. So, it’ll be a good talk. Rowdy and I will have a blast in there. It’ll be fun.
Q: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for people who are going through some rough patches of how to get out of it and succeed?
A: I mean, life is hard enough. We all go through obstacles in every walk of life. So, you know, for me, I like to be able to show and talk about how I put my mind absolutely, probably something that no one would think about is possible. And, being able to look back and say ‘yeah, I went through three pretty big…front-page stories, that were massive and, not good ones. But, I was able to overcome every obstacle that was in my way. And, it was just because of the power of my mind. I wanted something so bad and there was not anything in the world that was going to stop me. For me, it’s like, this is the life that I wanted to live. And, if you ask me if I would change anything, I would say no because I am happy with who I am today. And, maybe if you would’ve asked me four years ago if I liked who I was as a person, I would say no. So, you know, for me to be able to overcome all the obstacles and now to be able to love who I am as a person, to have self-confidence, to have self-love, to be able to grow a family like we are, I mean, life is a dream come true for me. And, it can be like that for anybody.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of being a new dad?
I will say I have changed some pretty bad morning diapers. And, it’s hard to believe that something can come out of a child that big that is that bad. Um, but I mean it’s great. You know, like, for us it’s like when I look at it, it might not be pretty but it’s my son. It’s, it’s for me, it’s just being able to see the growth day-by-day. There are a lot of times when we travel together and being able just to now watch him attempt to start walking and talking a little bit more, almost understanding a little bit and just him, like him giving me a hug is the coolest feeling in the world. You know it’s, it’s…it is crazy to think that he’s a year old now. Um, because I have no idea where the last year went. But, that’s something that somebody always told me as a parent: ‘Never blink because you’re going to miss out on something.’ So, I’ve been enjoying every moment and I’m looking forward to the next step, wherever that is.
Q: Has he been dropped in the pool yet?
He was in the pool when I left today. Yeah, he’s in the pool two or three times a week. Splashing around. Playing. He plays with the dogs in the water. So, he’s probably going to be a good swimmer if he wants to be a swimmer. I don’t know. But that’s his choice.
Q: You’re here for Hoffman Hospice. What do you hope for you being here tonight and the donations that are supposed to happen do for the organization?
A: They hopefully can help so many families out there that are going through tough times. I mean, like I said, life is short. And, you never know when it’s going to end. So, being able to raise money like this for an amazing cause to be able to help so many amazing families, it’s like an honor for me, like I said, to be here. And, I’m hoping we raise a lot of money. We’re gonna raise a lot of money tonight.
Q: What’s your status for 2020?
A: I’m still retired. Still retired. I’m sure, I’m sure Rowdy will get that today.
Q: What is next for you, besides raising a family?
A: My foundation. My brand. Our family. And, I have some personal goals that I would like to attain in the business world. I have never talked about any of my goals. My goals are going to be lofty and I think they might have just gotten bigger. I just started reading this book today and it opened up my mind to some other things. So, I’m looking forward to the future. It’s gonna be hard. But, it wasn’t easy to get to where I am today. So, being able to work with some of the tools that I was able to use in the swimming world hopefully will help me in the business world.
Q: What was your reaction to Serena Williams winning her 23rd Grand Slam while pregnant?
A: It’s insane. You know, for me, to be able to be in this era where we have so many amazing athletes from so many different sports. I mean, every single sport, somebody’s overcoming big, like, you know, records left and right. I mean, literally. Every sport. So, for me, it’s an honor just to be in the same sports world as them. And, to be able to watch their growth and career.
Q: What music do you listen to these days?
A: Country. A lot of country actually.