Lee University rising senior Caitlin Warrick was one of 60 "Oprah Show Babies" on stage at the United Center in Chicago last week for the taping of the talk show host's final episodes.
Warrick and her sister, Kelsey, grew up in Chicago watching Winfrey, and the two waged a write-in campaign to attend the "surprise spectacular."
"Oprah Show Babies are people who grew up watching Oprah," Warrick said. "We had to prove that we were really big fans. I wrote letters, my friends wrote letters for me, and my sister's friends wrote letters for us."
In the letters, the girls described watching the Oprah show with their mother prior to her death from cancer four years ago.
"After she passed away - I won't say my mom was there with us - but we kept watching, and it helped us talk about her and it was a constant in our lives," Warrick said. "My sister and I got closer talking about it."
The show will air today at 4 p.m. on WTVC-TV 9 with more from the celebrity-filled event airing on Tuesday. Details of the grand finale on Wednesday are being kept secret.
Warrick traveled to Chicago on May 14 and attended the rehearsals and taping on May 17 with her sister and friend Taylor Bartkowski. Their original goal was to be in attendance at the 14,000-seat arena.
When producers from the show called, the girls had no idea they would be on stage or that they would get to meet Winfrey, plus actress Dakota Fanning and singer Beyonce, who were on stage with the "babies."
"We watched rehearsal on Sunday at Harpo Studios and the rehearsal at the United Center on Monday Night," Warrick said.
"Tuesday was the show, and it was very hush hush, so we were stuck in the Green Room for three hours. When we did go up on stage in front of 14,000 people, it was pretty cool. I'm not going to lie.
"We got to run back to the center of the stage and dance with Beyonce. It felt like being in a music video. Then Oprah came on stage and shook hands with all of us.
"It was one of my 'bucket list' moments. Now I don't have anything else to put on the list."