Anna Liberty

A girl who's one-in-a-million

Anna’s Dad is on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire!”

This post will be a departure from what we usually write about here on It’s the story of my appearance on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”. It’s long, but I think you’ll like it!


I grew up watching game shows with my family, and my dad always told me I should be a contestant and win some money!  So when I heard that auditions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” were coming to Salt Lake City, UT (not far from home), I knew i had to try out.

I took a Friday off work and went early that morning with my brother to the audition.  We arrived and were greeted by some young, enthusiastic producers.  A large group had already been there before us.  We watched them leaving with their free “Millionaire” t-shirts. Some grinned and had a spring in their step, others looked disappointed. They had just taken the first step: THE TEST.  We were next.

Remember back in high school, when you had to sit down with a #2 pencil and a scan-tron sheet?  “Millionaire” auditions start the exact same way.  The test had thirty questions, and we were given ten minutes.  (For you non-math-majors, that’s only 30 seconds per question!)

The test had questions from a variety of topics, just like the show. Math, history, geography, and a lot of pop culture. I raced through the test, answering all of the questions I knew first. Then I went back and made my best guess on the others I didn’t know. I finished just before time ran out. Our tests were slipped into numbered envelopes. As they took them to be scored, we were told to remember our number. Then, we waited.

The producers came back and read a list of numbers. My number was included!  I think there were about 40 or so people in my group, and about 10 of us passed the test.  Those who passed were invited back later that day for an interview.

So, I went back to my brother’s house and started working on some paperwork they gave us.  The first part was legal and contact stuff, and the second was all about finding out if I would be an interesting enough person to put on the show. Here are a few of the questions:

  • Are you a member of any strange or unusual clubs?
  • What are you known for among your family & friends? (embarrassing stories, special or unique talents, etc)
  • What is your biggest claim to fame win? (ex. Contests, medals, funny walks, etc)
  • What is the craziest or most unique thing you have ever done to make money?
  • What would you do with the money if you won? How would $1 Million change your life?

I did my best to provide the most hilarious, interesting, and clever answers I could think of. I told them about my acting career as a kid, my obsession with Disneyland, and of course, being Anna’s dad and her XP condition.

When I came back for the interview, a large group of us (about 40) were herded in to a room where there were three tables on one side. These were the interview tables. We were called up one at a time, and the producer read over our answers to the above questions. When my name was called, I jumped up and made my way to the table with extra enthusiasm.  He was impressed with my interesting stories and told me that I had made it – to the SECOND interview. I was sent down the hall to wait for my second, video interview. That interview was with two producers, in front of a camera, where they asked me some questions as if I were on the show. When I got each one right, I shouted and jumped and reacted like a crazy guy. They ate it up, and told me that I’d hear back in a month or so.

On Monday morning, less than 48 hours later, I was shocked to get a phone call from “Millionaire.”  “Would you be able to be in Stamford, CT in two weeks to be a contestant?”  My answer was YES!  I made arrangements, and started cramming my head with as much trivia that I could take.

We arrived in NYC a few days early to see a Broadway show and take in the sights.  My sisters Stephanie and Katie (and Katie’s husband Russell) joined me on the trip. I got a good night’s sleep before the day of the taping, and arrived ready to win big! Upon arrival at the studio, they took  away our cellphones and anything we brought with us, and we were told a lot of things by their lawyers and producers.  After spending all day in the waiting room with the other contestants, I was told that I’d have to come back the next day. I didn’t sleep as well that night.

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Me and Terry, moments before taping my episode!

I came back to the studio the next morning and quickly was sent to hair and makeup. I was taken backstage where they put a mic on me.   My sister Stephanie was in the audience. Before they called me up, Stephanie got the crowd chanting my name! I came out pumped and ready. Terry Crews (this guy) is the new host. He called my name, I went to the podium, and….

…you’ll have to watch the show to see what happened next!

My episode is airing on Thursday, Oct 16th. I’m the last contestant on the show that day. You might want to watch on the 17th, too!

Go to to find out where and when Millionaire airs in you area.


Anna the Artist


Anna has always enjoyed drawing with crayons and markers. One of her favorite toys is a small whiteboard.  Recently, Anna has been learning how to draw animals and Disney characters. That’s my girl! For four years old, she’s not bad. Because I’m her dad, I think she’s an artistic genius. 🙂


First up, is the big cheese himself, Mickey Mouse.  I showed Anna one time how she could draw him, and reminded her of some steps, but this is all her!
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Next, we have a pig. Notice the pig nose, the great smile, four legs, feet and a VERY curly tail.


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And finally, Mike Wazowski.  Mike’s pretty simple, so he’s a great place to start! Anna loves adding his little horns.


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The Results Are In

Last week we were a bit anxious waiting to hear back from the genetics testing done on Jayne’s blood.

As I wrote in an earlier post, we had decided to look on the bright side of whatever diagnosis came our way. If Jayne doesn’t have XP, we will be so happy for her, knowing she wouldn’t have to suffer the trials associated with XP. If she does, we’ll be happy for Anna, because she’d have a sister with the same rules and conditions.

Our prayers were answered, and we learned that Jayne does NOT have XP. She is a carrier, like Anna’s mom and dad. We are thrilled to know that Jayne won’t have to deal with XP personally.

Now our challenge is learning how to raise two girls who have different rules about the daytime and going outside. We are grateful that Anna has been so patient and understanding with her own XP.

We’ve tried to talk with Anna a little about how Jayne doesn’t have the same special skin that she has, and that she can be in the sun without a hat. But Anna was too busy having fun and playing, and it didn’t quite click with her yet. She is only 4 years old, but we plan to be open and positive about it with her.

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Anna Liberty is now a big sister!

Since starting this blog, it’s been wonderful to share Anna’s adventures and our experiences with her Xeroderma Pigmentosum. I’ve loved focusing on Anna here on the blog especially since it’s named after her.

But now I have a wonderful problem – I have another daughter! Her name is Jayne Summer, and she’s a beautiful perfect little redhead bundle of joy. She is healthy, good-tempered, and did I mention perfect? Her Mom makes the most beautiful babies. Here’s proof:


The “wonderful problem” mentioned above is how to focus my blog posts now. The day after Jayne was born, we sent her blood sample off to a genetics company. In a month or so, we’ll find out if Jayne has XP like Anna. Jayne has a 75% chance of NOT having XP, and a 25% chance of having it. I posted our thoughts about this a few months ago. If she does have it – I might need to change the name of this blog! Either way, we are just thrilled to have her part of our family.

Welcome to our world, Jayne Summer!


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New Video about Anna Liberty and XP

I finally finished this little project, and I’m excited to share it with you.  I wanted to make a short informational video about Anna and Xeroderma Pigmentosum. I’ve added it to the home page of

I hope you like it. If you do – please share it with your friends!




Anna’s Mom 2014

Today I am grateful for Anna’s mom. Libby is an incredible, hard-working, lovely, patient, forgiving, and giving person. She gives of herself all of the time, with little thought for herself. She takes care of a bunch of stranger’s children as a school teacher, in addition of taking care of me and Anna.   She’s so wonderful, that a couple of years ago Libby was featured on a great blog called Beadhead Moms. It’s a beautiful post about Libby, and it’s worth re-visiting.

This morning, Libby reminded me that it was three years ago today that a 10-month-old Anna woke up with her eyes swollen shut and a terrible sunburn on her head, face, arms, and hands. We had gone to the zoo on the Saturday before Mother’s day, and even though we’d put sunscreen on Anna and kept her shaded much of the time, her special skin was no match for the spring sun’s UV rays. We didn’t yet know that Anna had Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a very rare genetic mutation. You can read the story on our first blog post.

Later this morning, after getting Anna ready for Church, Libby posted this on Instagram:



To Libby: I love you.  The best decision I ever made was to marry you.  You are the perfect mom for Anna, and you’ll be the perfect mom for Jayne.  Thank you for being my wife, and for being a wonderful mom.

To my mom: I love you!  Thank you for raising a wonderful family. Your tireless sacrifices and your beautiful testimony have made me who I am today.

To all of the mom’s out there, you are wonderful and loved for your hard work, sacrifices, and love.



Happy Mother’s Day!

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Anna’s New Play Tent

Every Easter, our family has an outdoor picnic at our aunt’s house. It’s been a tradition for many years. We have great food, an Easter egg hunt, games, and more.  And for the last few years, Anna has had to stay inside to eat.  It’s just too difficult to eat with mittens and a big plastic shield over your face. She would come out with her gear after lunch, but during much of the party she’d be stuck inside.

A few weeks ago, Anna’s aunt Sophie found a fun PVC outdoor playhouse design online.  She had a brilliant idea to modify it so it could be a UV-free play area for Anna.  We agreed and Sophie started planning .  Anna’s mom and Sophie went to the fabric store and picked some UV-blocking cute fabrics to make the tent.  PVC was purchased.  And just a few days before the Easter picnic, Sophie teamed up with her dad (Anna’s Grampa B) to put it together.


Sophie and Grampa B hard at work.


Sophie and Grampa B worked tirelessly for 2 or 3 days (or more) to build the tent.  They worked almost all day each day on it!  Sewing, modifying, sewing, cutting, sewing, ironing, sewing, testing, and more sewing. We provided some pizza and moral support.



Tools of the trade



The PVC tent frame



A work in progress


The day before our Easter picnic, the tent was finished!  Sophie paid careful attention to make sure no unsafe sunlight would get in the tent. She added a cute border around the bottom. A strip of UV-safe plastic was added to the roof to let more safe light in the tent. They added a double-layered curtain behind the entry to keep it safe.  it was beautiful and safe!



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Anna running around her new tent.


Anna entering her play tent for the first time.


Anna and her cousins having fun!


Anna, hanging out with uncle Bridger, waves hello!


Anna had a great time in her tent. The best part was that her cousins joined her in the tent for the picnic!  It was a hit for Anna and for her cousins, too.  We look forward to many picnics and outdoor activities with our new, amazing UV-safe play tent.

A HUGE thank you to Sophie and Grampa B for their hard work!  We love you and appreciate all you do!

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Sophie, her baby, and Anna pose in front of the tent.


The PLAY’s the thing

Every morning when Anna wakes up, here first words are typically “Will you play with me?”  When I first get home from work, Anna’s first words are “Daddy, will you play with me?”  And her last words before bed are usually, “but I wanna play!”

Play is her life right now.  I am lucky enough that with Anna, I can be Captain Daddy on a pirate ship, a daddy-turned-into-a-lion-and-then-back-to-her-daddy with her magic wand, a mountain to climb, a tall tower block builder, and a daddy taking her on a walk.

When we do go outside, Anna is LOVING her trike. She is getting better and better!  Our usual itenerary is a ride down the sidewalk, visiting with the neighbor’s dog, and playing on the neighbors’ swing-sets.

I thought you might like to see how Anna’s enjoying the springtime play.  She’s growing so fast.



climing ladder





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Anna’s Little Sister

stick figure familyWhen people learn about XP, one of the questions we get is “Are you guys going to have any more kids?”  They wonder if we’d want to risk having another child with XP. We even had one doctor advise us to not have any more children.  That one shocked us here in big-Mormon-family country.

I wonder if people realize the subtext of what they are asking.  It’s almost like asking if we’d have Anna over again if we could. The answer is, in the most loving way possible, “OF COURSE, YOU IDIOT!!”  Anna is an amazing girl who will live a long and wonderful life safe from UV radiation.  And any brothers or sisters that come along, whether they have XP or not, will be welcomed into our family with love and gratitude. 

The fact is, Anna’s little sister has a 25% chance of inheriting XP.  (For you non-math majors out there, that means she has a 75% chance of NOT having XP.)

When Libby and I have discussed it, we sometimes think it would be easier if Anna’s little sister has XP.  We already know how to take care of her, and it might be easier emotionally for both of them if they have to live by the same set of rules when it comes to sun exposure.  On the other hand, we wouldn’t wish XP on anyone, so we would prefer that she does not have this rare, life-altering skin condition.

When it comes down to it, we are excited to have another gift from God join our family.  I’m incredibly blessed to have a loving wife, a extra-special daughter, and another on the way.


Car Tales

A few months ago, I was on my way to drop Anna off at her Aunt Sophie’s house when we had quite a scare.

With just a few blocks to go, I stopped at an empty four-way stop and started inching forward. I glanced to my left and saw a truck coming fast toward the intersection, showing no sign of stopping. I slammed on my brakes just before the truck rammed into the front end our little car, sending us spinning.

As the dust settled, I quickly turned around to see if Anna was okay. She was still in her car-seat and a little shaken up, in every meaning of the phrase.  I hopped out of the car, yelled something at the driver of the truck, and helped Anna out of the now-totaled ’98 Honda Civic.  Luckily, no one was hurt. I felt grateful that I glanced left and hadn’t kept driving into the intersection.

The  old Civic was done for.

The old Civic was done for.

The very night of the accident, Libby and I were searching the local car listings and found the perfect car to replace the old Civic.  We test drove the Chevy Equinox that night and made an offer soon after. Before we knew it, we had a new car!

There were two things we missed about the old Civic: 1) No monthly payment and  2) It had special UV-blocking film on the windows, so Anna could ride without her special hat/hood, gloves, etc.

While there are many months to go until we have it paid off, today the car is now UV-free!  After contacting the XP Family Support Group, we learned that 3M was going to donate UV-blocking film for the car windows, and a local business (JC Automotion) volunteered to install the film on the car for free.

I spoke with Jesús of JC Automotion, and he was more than happy to help. He did an expert job!  I highly recommend him to anyone who owns a car. Not only does the window tinting look amazing, it blocks the harmful UV rays – and will keep the car cooler on hot Utah desert days!  You can reach them at (801) 599-3108.

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We are so grateful to again have a car that protects Anna from the sun. THANK YOU to JC Automotion, the XP  Family Support Group, and 3M!

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