Rockwall teacher relives dream trip to Australia with Oprah




Posted on January 4, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 4 at 11:44 PM

ROCKWALL — Tosha Ridgeway is one of Oprah Winfrey's biggest fans. Her enthusiasm got her a ticket to Australia with the TV icon.

Ridgeway, a Rockwall High School teacher, recently got back from the trip Down Under, and looking at her classroom, that passion is evident.

"I think what you put out there you get back," she said.

Ridgeway was one of 300 "ultimate" fans selected to go to Australia with the talk show host last month. It's a journey that began when Oprah Winfrey came to the State Fair of Texas.

Ridgeway was there with a life-size cardboard cutout of Oprah. That led to a story on News 8.

And that led to Ridgeway being chosen as an "ultimate fan and the free ten-day trip to Australia.

"It was truly a vacation," she said. "Everywhere we went, red carpet treatment!"

Ridgeway and fellow travelers found their days filled with sightseeing. Oprah would drop in randomly, but many of the fans didn't get to meet her.

"I was lucky enough; I did get to have my moment with her," Ridgeway said. It happened on top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

The Rockwall teacher found herself terrified of the height and reached out to grab Oprah.

"I don't know what came over me," Ridgeway said. "I'm not aggressive. I was crying, and I said, 'Oprah, please hold my hand,' and she did... be in the moment!"

It is a moment she will long treasure, and a lesson she hopes to share with her students.

"I think everyone should feel like this! You work for something, put heart out there, and it does happen," Ridgeway said.

After all, if there's anything to be learned from Oprah Winfrey, it is to "follow your passion" — you never know where it will take you.

You can win a trip "Down Under" with Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure Trip Giveaway Just watch The Oprah Winfrey Show on January 18, 19 and 20 for the "word of the day." Then click here to enter and win.