When Adam Sandler walked on stage at UBS Arena in New York, he quickly spotted a fan in the front row.
He read the message written on her white T-shirt that said, “I traveled from Australia just to be here for the Sandman.”
“Thanks for traveling!” Sandler told Keira Williams, who already was in tears.
The 28-year-old Williams is from a small country town in New South Wales, roughly four hours from Sydney. She traveled for 30 hours and spent thousands of dollars for one purpose: Meet Adam Sandler.
“But how do you actually pull that off?” Williams asked, rhetorically. “When I saw he was touring, I was like, ‘Well, this is my chance. This is my opportunity. I need to take it.’ Before I even booked a flat, before I booked anything, I booked my front-row ticket. And then I kind of just booked my trip around that. So, my whole entire purpose for being over here was for Adam Sandler.”
While her on-stage shoutout from the man who played Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore was memorable, it wasn’t quite the full meet-and-greet she hoped to have after traveling 10,000 miles.
That came after the show when Williams was waiting outside the arena with a crowd of a dozen or so fans hoping to see Sandler as he left. As she stood in the cold, she realized her cell phone had only six percent battery life remaining and, without it, she had no way of knowing how to get back to her hotel in midtown Manhattan.
“My main priority was getting a photo with him and meeting him,” Williams said. “My main priority was not how I was going to get back to my hotel in a different country. I had no idea how the public transport systems worked, so I was going to have to guess. But, yeah, I was willing to risk it.”
As Sandler’s SUV finally pulled out, he waved to the barricaded crowd from the front passenger seat. The truck then came to a stop. Sandler recognized two fans from the crowd that he acknowledged while on stage, got out of the car and walked directly to them.
One was Krystal Delgado from Queens, who held a sign during the show begging Sandler to take a picture with her. The other was Williams.
“When he walked up to us, I was shaking, so I handed him my phone to take a selfie because I would not have been able to do it on my own,” Williams said. “But I just kind of took the moment, looked him in the eyes and I told him how much I loved him and appreciated him. …He looked at me and he once again said, ‘Thank you for traveling.’ And I just said, ‘I love you.’ And he said , ‘I love you, too.’”
Williams first became a fan of Sandler as a child after watching movies like “50 First Dates” and “The Wedding Singer” with her mother, Tanya.
“We would watch those on repeat and as I grew up it was just a pastime activity that my mom and I would always do together,” Williams said. “That’s one of the memories that stands out the most is just how it began from her love of Adam Sandler.”
Now approaching 30, and working in disability support in Australia, Williams’ adoration for Sandler only continues to grow.
“I’m behind all my friends,” she said. “They’re all married and having babies and I’m just out here single and chasing after Adam Sandler.”
Standing at the center of the lounge room in Williams’ house is a life-size cardboard cutout of Sandler giving a thumbs up.
“I live with my best friend and she’s like, ‘Does it really have to be there?'” Williams said with a laugh. “Because we have set our house up so beautifully and then there’s just Adam Sandler in the middle of it all .”
Three friends assisted Williams when tickets to Sandler’s tour went on sale, which was around 1 am in Australia. Each was attempting to get Williams a front-row seat, regardless of where the show was on the now 22-city coast-to-coast tour.
“It didn’t matter where I went, I just needed to be front row,” Williams said. “And it was a very expensive trip because it was so last minute.”
How expensive? Williams said, in US dollars, the front-row ticket cost nearly $1,100 and the flight into New York was nearly $1,000. Not to mention, she planned to break up her flight home with brief stops in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Hawaii.
Making that financial commitment and cross-country flights meant Williams needed to ensure that Sandler would notice her. So, the day before she left for New York, she made a shirt to wear to his show.
“When he walked out, I took my opportunity and I stood up and he read my shirt out to the crowd,” Williams said. “I couldn’t wait to tell my mom that he looked at me and he spoke to me.”
Williams and Sandler shared a more personal conversation and had time to take a photo together outside the UBS Arena — thanks in large part to that shirt.
Williams “celebrated” the meeting with Sandler by FaceTiming her mother and family in Australia.
“I was crying uncontrollably, and they thought that something horrendous had happened,” Williams said. “They were like, ‘I’m never letting you travel on your own again!’ And I was just like, ‘No, I met him ! He stopped. He came out. He took our photo. He talked to me.’ Everyone was just so happy for me. They were just like, ‘This is the exact reason why you went over there.’”
Yes, she traveled from Australia just to be here for the Sandman.
“I don’t even think that if I have a first born that that will even top the day I met Adam Sandler,” Williams said. “I just believe that day is going to be at the top of my list of the best days of my life forever, no matter what happens.”