What started as a simple invitation to a dance turned into a trip of a lifetime for Crissa Nugen, member services director for the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce.

Nugen invited singer/songwriter Jewel and her famous bull riding husband Ty Murray to last Saturday’s dinner and dance that raised money to bring Big Brothers Big Sisters to Erath County.

The famous couple declined the invitation because Jewel was in New York, but that didn’t stop the songstress from donating to the cause. Nugen later received word from Jewel’s publicist that she would donate $10,000.

“We were thrilled,” Nugen said. “That was so generous.”

The generosity, however, didn’t stop there.

Three days later, the publicist called back and invited Nugen to fly to the Big Apple to accept the donation.

“Jewel wanted someone from her home town to accept the check,” Nugen said.

In a whirlwind of excitement, Nugen packed her bag, drove to the Dallas/Fort Worth airport and jetted to New York City. She landed in Queens, where a driver was waiting to whisk her off to Manhattan and her hotel on 5th Avenue.

That night, Nugen took in the sights and sounds of the big city.

“I got to go to the top of Rockefeller Center,” she said.

She also dined on a New York-style bagel, rode the subway and watched people ice skate near the NBC studios.

Her biggest surprise, however, was how friendly New Yorkers really are.

“I have always heard that they were rude,” Nugen said. “They are in a hurry, but they are very friendly and nice.”

The next morning Nugen joined Jewel, and hundreds of fans, at a CD signing to accept the check.

“When she gave me the check, she (Jewel) said, ‘I get asked to do so many things, but it feels really good to do something for my home town,’” Nugen said. “It was really touching.”