Thursday, February 18, 2010

Flinn Elementary

Jodie, a friend from high school who is now a teacher at Flinn.   Man how life changes when we have to grow up:(
I visited Flinn Elementary on February 12, just a few days before Valentine’s Day, so the kids were in full swing and awaiting the Valentine’s Day parties that were soon to be had.
I presented two times to this school; first, with the younger grades and then second with the older grades. I talked on the topic of overcoming adversity and making good choices and pursuing your dreams. Immediately after my older presentation I was asked to be various different little boys Valentine:)

Lobbying the Legislature

(Stopping for a picture with a female legislature and her mother)

Monday of last week, I got a call at 2:00 pm to speak to the House Health & Human Resources Committee on my legislative agenda, platform, and things that as Miss West Virginia I felt could be amended or added in order to make WV a safe place for children to grow up.  The only catch was they wanted me in Charleston, 45 minutes away from home, by 4:00 pm.   Even though it was 2:00 pm in the afternoon I was still on the Miss America schedule and had not yet taken a shower! YIKES!
After showering in .2 seconds, blowing dry my hair, putting the curlers in, throwing on a "stylish suit’"and running out the door with makeup in hand, I jumped in the car on my way to Charleston to present. While doing my makeup in the car and driving at the same time (hope the cops aren't reading this) I tried to wrap my mind around a way to EFFECTIVELY convey my legislative agenda.  Arriving to the Capitol 10 minutes early, I ran to the nearest bathroom in my flats, teased my hair (like every pageant girl), put on my heels and walked out like I had been ready all day….just waiting on a call:)

Before presenting, I was able to see many of my old legislative friends.  In college and upon graduation, I was able to serve at the WV State Legislature for two consecutive sessions as an legislative analyst and intern.  Tiffany Lawrence, former Miss West Virginia, now serves her county as an elected official to the House of Delegates.  She and her fiancĂ© were both in attendance, as well as many of the other legislators and lobbyists I had had the privilege of knowing.
For the rush of getting there and getting ready, the presentation went surprisingly well and I was asked to present to the Senate Health & Human Resources Committee members last week as well. Currently, with the help of Delegate Mitch Carmichael, a bill is being drafted proposing that social workers in the State of West Virginia be given a $5,000 raise. With there being 400 workers in total, that equals out to about $2,000,000, but hey, when a turnpike toll worker taking $2.00 makes more than someone protecting our children, what is $2,000,000 when our future is at stake?
This coming week, I will be spending each and every day getting other lawmakers to sign onto the bill and working it so that it pass through both the House and Senate committees and the floor.
Senate Health & Human Resources Interns

Queen for a Day!

After returning home from Las Vegas I was graced with the opportunity to spend the afternoon with a four-year-old little girl at CAMC. She had just finished up with a procedure and we were able to get together and have a few hours of “girl time.” We painted nails, did makeovers on each other, and ate our favorite candy...Chewy Sprees:)
We all know the feeling from dressing up, putting on a little lipstick or wearing our favorite outfit.  As a college student, I would dress up for exams because I carried myself differently "fixed up."   It was easier to focus and I felt more energetic.    That's the concept of QFAD - giving a little pick-me-up to kids in treatment for cancer. QFAD isn't about looking good.  It's about feeling good.
Queen for a day is done all over the United States through personal visits and group parties where makeovers, crafts, manicures, games, temporary tattoos and entertainers are all a part. Girls receive boas and tiaras donated by beauty queens; boys receive fireman hats and a badge.  The little girl that I spent the day with reminded me of HOPE.  No matter the situation she was in, she laughed and smiled and was so excited to go to the Mexican restaurant for chips and cheese that afternoon.  I could tell that her parents loved her like no one else and soaked up each minute they were able to spend with their precious, happy-go-lucky daughter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Misty McMinn: Local Director, Hair & Makeup Artist for Miss America, and Best Friend.

Misty Quick McMinn is known to many as Mrs. WV International, Local Director, Pageant Guru, former contestant, best Mrs. WV EVER, confidant and pageant acquaintance, but to me….she is Best Friend! She was gracious enough to do my hair and makeup for Miss America, but that is not where our journey together started.
(First year at Miss West Virginia)

My first year at Miss WV she was a fellow contestant. After devoting many years of her life to the Miss WV Scholarship Organization she decided to forgo being a contestant and become a local director. I competed in her first local and then was her queen her third and fourth year as the Miss Kanawha Valley Scholarship Organization Director. In her short time of serving as a local director, she has had two miss West Virginias and other top placements.

(At my send off party for Miss America where she kept the program running)

Throughout the years of helping me with pageantry, being my local director, and hair and makeup artist….she has also served as a confidant, homemaker (I stay with her a good bit), someone to laugh with, but someone who I can trust with anything and has helped mold me into who I am today. She, along with the Miss WV Board and my family, was the one who pushed me in my preparation for Miss America and Miss West Virginia.
(Yes, that is edible gold printed Bally's. Better be for the price of the buffet, but it was SO WORTH IT!)
(Morning after Miss America at THE BEST BUFFET IN LAS VEGAS. We had everything from chocolate, breakfast foods, seafood, any fruit imaginable, etc.)

She always gives good advice, provides a laugh...and the truth, and is someone I will forever be amazed by! So lucky to have her in my life….

Miss America 2010

After almost missing my connecting flight to Vegas due to delays on the tarmac, I touched down at approximately 2:00 pm Vegas time and had to rush to get my bags and get Planet Hollywood for the opening ceremonies photo shoot.  Miss Idaho, Kara Jackson, had already arrived and was waiting on me to head to the hotel. After bags were grabbed, we jumped in the limo and we were off.  During the ride from the airport to the hotel, both she and I talked about how surreal it was to be at Miss America as a Miss America contestant!

After arriving to the hotel, I had to run to the business center to pick up my boxes that I had shipped (absolutely the way to do it) along with lug my three suitcases. When I arrived to my room, I was ecstatic that my roommate was Miss Washington, Devanni. She was so fun during the time in Orlando and I was glad to get the opportunity to spend more time with her.
All the contestants convened down at one of the ballrooms to line up and be introduced at the Arrival Ceremony; then following the ceremony and interviews, we had a kickoff meeting and dinner where we were able to talk more in-depth about America’s Choice, CMN and the Miss America partnership and the new sponsors that came on board with Miss America.
Once the kickoff meeting had concluded and pictures had been taken, we were released to go back to our rooms. Both Devanni and I were neat freaks, so we spent a few hours organizing and preparing ourselves for the next day.
The Spice Market Buffet in the Planet Hollywood hotel provided the contestants breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. After our meal we were all introduced to the production team and choreographers and started rehearsing.
I am not a dancer…but by the end of the day I was able to pick up on the dance number a slight bit…at least enough to where I wasn’t embarrassing myself. That evening we went to the Venetian to ride the gondola rides and for photo ops.
By then my designated best friend was Taylor Treat, Miss Oklahoma, and we spent all of our free time together at the events and during rehearsals. She is a goon just like me and -- well, we are about the same person.... :)
The days were filled with rehearsals, but each evening was filled with a different event. Whether it be going to see Phantom, eating at Bucca di Beppo, Poll Position Raceway, CMN Breakfast, etc. there was always something planned.
Tuesday night was the first night of preliminary and I had talent.                I was number one in the Alpha group and then had the rest of the evening to relax!         I sang “Precious Lord” and you can see the YouTube video by clicking on the link below:
Wednesday, I participated in onstage interview.       Thursday, Swimsuit and evening gown.

Each night after the preliminaries, the contestants were able to see their families and friends. That was a short-lived visit but better than nothing!

During the end of the week all of the contestants were exhausted and run down, but I guess I especially was. Friday, we had the “day off” from competition but had 5:00 am radio and TV appearances, rehearsal and Evening of Dreams event with those wanting to spend the evening with Miss America and the Miss America contestants. 
I, however, was not able to attend that event. I had been worn out…so much so that each time we got a break, I was passed out asleep and even slept a slight bit standing up.  I was not feeling well and that continued into Saturday.  After a visit to the emergency room, prescriptions, IV’s, and some “mom time,” I was cleared to participate in the final night of competition. Whoever knew that once you FINALLY made it to Miss America that you would be "sick as a dog?"
Unfortunately, I did not make it into the top 15 at Miss America, but I know in my mind and in my families/supporters’ I was top 15 in their book! Now, glad to be back home being Miss WV, lobbying the State Legislature and participating in the other scheduled appearances. It never stops…but the experiences in life are what make up the memories.