It’s hard to believe that one year ago today I (Anthony Crosby) sat in front of my screen with nothing more than a couple of coffee dates scheduled for potential “interviews,” excitement, and an idea. It was a simple plan to talk with people and share their stories. It had been done before; I wasn’t setting out to reinvent the journalistic wheel or anything of that nature. However, it was my way of staying connected to the people of this city, which I love. You see, at that time (October 2017), I was preparing to step out of my career as a pastor and into one giant question mark. For all I knew, I would be sitting behind a desk filing papers for the rest of my life; that would have been fine, but I still wanted a way to stay in touch with the people. My “Anthony Around Town” experiment/hobby would be my way of doing that. Little did I know it was about to take me on a journey of my own.
It was the Fall of 2017, and AAT had just launched. I was in the middle of engaging some things within my family, so my goal was to simply publish one article a week. I used a free web-hosting site to create my landing page; I had a friend of mine whip up a graphic to serve as a logo. It was basic yet straightforward fun! Over the next few months, I received much positive feedback from those who had read some of the features. It became apparent that the AAT premise could find success in an area like Elko because it’s both a big and small town at the same time! Elko’s big enough to see growth, development, and be the home of tons of exciting people, but it’s also small in the way of people here value the small town feel of their community. People appreciate knowing about their neighbors; they enjoyed reading stories highlighting someone who has worked at our local Taco Time for twenty years, for example! Many other towns out there wouldn’t see the value in something like that. I’m thankful for the people of Elko’s heart towards their peers. People here really do care.
When I first started AAT, I told myself that I was merely going to let God do with it as He pleased. I can be an incredible planner/control freak, often to a fault; therefore, I just wanted AAT to be an enjoyable experience and not something to be stressed over. So, as the blog grew in popularity and recognition throughout the Winter months, I honestly did enjoy the ride! I was so thankful to talk with many transparent and fascinating people every week. Every single one of them has blessed my life. I would do little things here and there like put together the brand’s Facebook page and work on improving the back-end aspects of running and developing a blogging website; I learned by listening to a lot of audio books and watching a lot of YouTube tutorials! However, meeting with the people every week was the real treat.
Spring 2018 arrived, and that’s when everything began to change. Not only did a dramatic shift occur within my family, but shortly after that, I developed a horrible infection in my right arm. A lump the size of fun-sized candy bar formed in my armpit randomly one weekend. It was excruciating, and I couldn’t do anything less than make a chicken wing almost above my head for several days. The lump was an abscess which led to my arm becoming infected so severely I was admitted into the hospital for nearly a week. Once released from the hospital, I was scheduled to see a wound care specialist who was tending to a deep hole that had developed in my arm from the infection. To speed up the recovery time of the wound, he set me up with a “wound-vac.” The wound-vac was a tube that connected to my arm and drained blood and other bodily fluids from the exposed area of my arm (which was also packed with foam three times a week) into a container which I had to carry around like a man purse. At that time, I was working mornings unloading packages from trailer trucks at UPS. Well, you could imagine why doing physical labor like that wouldn’t work so well with basically one arm; therefore, I was unable to perform my duties at that job for a couple of months. My life had changed so much in just a short amount of time.
“What was next for me?” I wondered. “What was my purpose?” I didn’t know; I didn’t. I wasn’t sure what to do. However, what I did know was that I had AAT, and it was still growing (I believe I had expanded to doing two features a week around that time). I had something that was working, something I loved doing and believed to have value. “God,” I prayed, “could you do something with this?” I was at the end of my rope. I had to try; I didn’t have anything else to lose. I decided I was going to have faith and go all in with AAT! Throughout the rest of the Summer, I did what I needed to improve the brand. I joined our local chamber of commerce to gain access to some fantastic resources and connections. I went through my apartment and found anything of value I could sell and ran online fundraising campaigns to pay for things like improving my website, getting my business licenses, and other necessities needed to start a business and develop a brand. I sent out emails and made dozens and dozens of pitches/proposals to local businesses and organizations seeking financial sponsorships/partnerships as my numbers were proven and growing, but I still had to hit the sidewalks and pray for the callbacks. Even though I wasn’t supposed to be moving my arm very much, I would do yard work for one of my buddies for sixty to a hundred dollars a week to pay little things for myself and my kids during this time as the UPS paychecks had stopped. Thankfully, I also had some very amazing people come alongside me through this time and help me as much as they could. I didn’t/couldn’t have made it through those months alone.
However, it quickly became crunch time. It was the second week in June; the lease was almost up on my apartment, and the rent would be due in a couple of weeks to extend it. I didn’t have the money. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I remember just getting down on my knees and praying (crying) out to God like I never had before. I truly believed in what I was called to do; I had to trust in that calling. I couldn’t give up. I picked myself up, put on my trademark AAT suit jacket and headed out the door as I had one more meeting to pitch AAT to a couple of potential sponsors. I held my head up, believed with all my strength, and…my prayers were answered! The businesses agreed to become sponsors and get behind the brand! At the eleventh hour, AAT could continue to develop into something unique and amazing for the Elko community!
Fast-forward four months, and here we are, celebrating AAT’s one-year anniversary. Gosh, this year has been wild, but I’m very thankful for it. I’m very grateful for the people I’ve met. I’m very appreciative for the friends I’ve made. Moreover, I’m thrilled I, and many people around me believed in my passion, despite all the odds. What does year two hold for AAT? I have my vision for it, but ultimately, can anyone say with one hundred percent certainty what his or her life is going to look like tomorrow, let alone one year from now? All I know is I still love people. I still love hearing and sharing their stories, and I’m going to do so as long as the good Lord allows it and the good people of Elko will check it out! In the meantime, all I can say is thank you! Thank you to every one of my readers who has helped make AAT what it is today; I am a very humbled and grateful man because of you. Thank you to everyone who has shared their stories with me so far, and I look forward to those of you whom I may be sitting down with in the future!
You can stay caught up on everything going on around here at AAT by checking out our “Stay Connected” page! Make sure you never miss a feature!
Until next time, see you around, Elko!