CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's been a whirlwind two weeks for South Charleston resident Jaime Moore, and though she's exhausted, she couldn't be happier.
On the night of Jan. 24, Moore received an email from Toaster Strudel informing her that she was one of their Morning Movers contest winners and that she'd soon be meeting her idol, Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon on "The Walking Dead."
By the 27th, her flights were confirmed, and by the 29th, she was in New York City. The next day, it was time to meet Reedus.
"Once I knew after last Friday night that this was going to happen, I couldn't sleep at all," she said Tuesday, still on a high from the trip. "Even though it happened so fast, I'm glad it did. At least I didn't have to wait a long time."
Everything started in mid-January, when Moore was scrolling through her Facebook news feed and came across a post from Toaster Strudel for its Morning Movers contest.
"It just had a question: what would get your morning moving?" Moore recalled.
So the 37-year-old mother of two submitted her answer: "Without any doubt or hesitation, what would not only get my morning moving but change my life forever would be to meet Norman Reedus from 'The Walking Dead.'"
"I usually don't do stuff like that," she said. "I never think I'll win anything, but somebody was looking out for me somewhere."
After reading the email from Toaster Strudel that she'd won, Moore said, "My heart just stopped. Everything just stopped."
She called a representative from the company that night. As they were talking, Moore said how much her kids, 17-year-old Kaleb and 8-year-old Kamryn, also liked Reedus and "The Walking Dead." The representative asked her if she'd like to bring her kids along on the trip.
"I was over the moon about that!"
The trio arrived in New York, where they were put up at the Trump Soho Hotel (and saw other celebrities including singer Kelly Rowland and NFL quarterback Eli Manning). They had a day to acclimate before their big meet-and-greet.
The next day started with a professional makeup artist zombiefying her children, while Moore participated in some interviews. Then, at 10 a.m., it was time to meet Reedus.
"I was crying. It was insane," she said. "My hands were shaking so bad. He hugged me four or five times. He was just so sweet, so wonderful.
"He was really only supposed to stay for a half an hour, but he stayed for an hour because he's wonderful like that," she added. "He is really wonderful and genuinely humble."
As they talked, Moore's son tried to get some "Walking Dead" scoop from Reedus regarding the second half of the fourth season, which returns at 9 p.m. Sunday on AMC. Reedus didn't divulge any secrets, but he told the family, "The next eight episodes to finish out this season are the best yet."
"I was so outside of my body," Moore said of her time on the couch with Reedus. "I knew I had to talk; I wanted to say a million things, and part of me felt like I was rushing to get stuff in, but I also wanted to shut up and hear what he had to say."
She said one thing she was glad to be able to tell him was just how much he means to her. While it was binge watching "The Walking Dead" on Netflix that got her hooked on Reedus, she has since come to appreciate his other endeavors, including his production company, Big Bald Head, and his photography.
"I follow the stuff he does, so I've gotten to see who Norman is versus Daryl," she said. "The crazy thing is he's the exact opposite of Daryl as Norman. He's very sensitive; he's just your dream-come-true guy.
"He's got a rough, edgy look, and he's an artsy guy, but at the same time, he's a dad," she continued. "We talked a lot about family. He has to wake his son up in the morning; I talked about waking my kids up. I said they're zombies when I wake them up, so I have to de-zombie them."
While talking about Reedus' photography, and his recently released book of photographs, "The Sun's Coming Up . . . Like a Big Bald Head," Moore got another surprise. "He said, 'I want to get you guys a box full of gifts together.'"
And despite Moore and her children only being in the city for a few more hours after the visit, he did. She said when they returned to the hotel from lunch, a box was awaiting them at the front desk, filled with goodies including a "Walking Dead" hoodie and t-shirts, books and the "Walking Dead" PlayStation 3 game for her son.
"It was just a box full of great stuff," she said. "He even wrote on the outside of the box 'To Jaime, From Norman.' I'm never throwing that piece of cardboard away!"
(There's some more cardboard from the trip she's keeping, too: life-size "Walking Dead" cutouts of Reedus and a zombie. They're currently positioned in her dining room.)
"I left New York with a huge smile on my face," she said. "Thank god for pictures and video, so I can relive it as much as I want to."
Moore noted that she and her children were fans of Toaster Strudel before all this, but she said she's an even bigger fan now.
"They absolutely went above and beyond what I ever would have expected. It just kept getting better and better. It was a total dream come true.
"People might laugh when I say this whole thing changed my life, but truly it has. I haven't been able to say my dream has come true in many aspects, but this dream did come true, and I'm forever grateful to them."