A little over one week ago, I descended into Portland for the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) annual convention. I just joined SATW this past March, so this was my first convention. During the weeklong convention, I was excited to experience Portland for the first time and meet new people in the travel industry. From the world-famous Voodoo Doughnuts to the exquisite Chinese Garden, I wanted to see and do it all. While I was prepared for the incredible attractions and food, I was not prepared for the biggest honor of my life to be bestowed upon me while in Portland.
On Monday, October 30th, there was an awards ceremony during lunch. The ceremony was for the prestigious Lowell Thomas Awards, which many say are the Oscars of the travel writing world. There were 24 categories including Best Travel Magazine (gold went to Southbound), Best Newspaper Travel Coverage (gold went to The New York Times), Best Travel Blog, and more. I was really really reeeeally hoping to place in a category (all categories have bronze and silver in addition to gold), but I never could have dreamed of what happened.
The Travel Blog category was up first and they started by announcing the Honorable Mention (TheInsatiableTraveler.com), then the Bronze winner (CandaceRoseRardon.com) and the Silver winner (TravelsofAdam.com). At this point, I thought “Oh well, maybe next year I can place in the Travel Blog category” because I never EVER thought that I could win gold. After a brief pause, the speaker said “And the gold award goes to… CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com”!!!!
I swear I blacked out for a couple seconds. I just could not believe it. Out of all of the remarkable travel blogs out there, I have the best one?! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!? I immediately became overwhelmed with emotion and couldn’t hold back the tears.
I was thinking of the countless hours that I’ve spent over the past 4 years working on articles, responding to emails, and not making a dime for the first year or so. I’ve always believed that Curb Free with Cory Lee could change the world, but to be validated amongst my travel peers and idols with this award was everything that I have ever dreamed of.
Past winners of the Travel Blog category include The Planet D (one of my favorite blogs), Legal Nomads, USA Today, Rick Steves, and more. I am now in the same category as these hugely successful and inspiring bloggers, and every time that I think about it for more than 5 seconds I get teary-eyed again. We’ve come a long way.
The judges said this about choosing Curb Free with Cory Lee as the winner: “Travel isn’t — and shouldn’t be — only for the able-bodied. Curb Free with Cory Lee is a treasure of useful information on wheelchair-accessible locales and attractions. From reviewing hotel rooms to hiking in the Amazon and up Masada, making the most of a tiny airplane seat and introducing other travelers rolling around the globe, this blog will leave everyone inspired to take off and try it all.”
I’ve been thinking about what exactly winning Best Travel Blog means, and while it definitely adds a bit of clout to my resume, it means so much more than that. It means that we are being heard, you guys. A travel blog focused on wheelchair accessible travel just won the biggest blogging award that there is! The world is listening to us and we are being recognized.
Since I started my blog in 2013, I’ve noticed that accessible travel is becoming better. It is a very slow process, but the world is opening up to us and I hope more than anything that this award will make destinations around the world start thinking about how they can become more accessible. We, as wheelchair users, are not just staying at home in the shadows anymore. We are exploring this planet and excelling in life.
Lastly, I want to thank YOU for supporting me over these past 4 years. If it wasn’t for your encouragement, my wonderful readers, this would not have happened. I really am extremely fortunate to have such exceptional supporters and I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you. This is truly an achievement for all of us. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!
If you would like to watch the video announcing the winners, see it below. Best Travel Blog is the first category and I’m around the 2:15 mark.
Here’s to many more adventures and opportunities to change the world! Cheers!
*If you would like to see the full list of winners, just click here.
best travel blog