Friday, May 14, 2010

Dancing with the Community Stars

Dancing with the Community Stars is an event that Miss WV hosts and participates in to raise awareness of the program and scholarship dollars for the contestants.  This year there were six couples that took to the stage.  Jackie Riggleman, Miss WV’s Outstanding Teen, is a dancer.  She and her dad did the waltz and it looked like something off of Dancing with the Stars, but better!  I attended the event, danced with the other contestants and had a great time catching up with Kayla Lynam, Miss WV 2008.

Mon County Baseball Association

West Mon Baseball Association was in need of a singer for the National Anthem and I was recruited.  They were having a FULL DAY of championship playoff games ages 4-18.  Pictured above is the "brains" behind the Baseball Association and Sheriff.  Because of his many hats and status, I was escorted by the police!  That is…for something good:)

WVU Blue & Gold Game

WVU Blue & Gold game is a practice game for those on the West Virginia Mountaineers Football team.  This practice game is for the Mountie fans, but benefits Children’s Miracle Network and WVU Children’s Hospitals.  The patients, brothers and sisters, family members of the patients and former patients are invited to go on the field and escort the WVU Mountaineer coach out before the game, then have an autograph session with Miss West Virginia. 

Fairmont Safe Schools/Safe Home

I was already scheduled to be in the Morgantown area, so on the way I stopped by the Fairmont Safe Schools/Safe Home After School program.  This program was extremely well organized and many vendors were there to assist those who attended the after school program. 

I came to sign autographs of those in attendance because this after school event benefited child abuse and neglect.  During the autograph signing, I asked a 13-year-old girl to take a few pictures and allowed her to go around the event taking more pics of the activity.  As you can see, she took some of herself and told me they were so I would never forget her.  I won’t...she is too much like me:)

The SHACK After School

The SHACK is an after school program in Morgantown, WV that is so unique. The interior of an old school building/gymnasium is completely painted in a forest scene.  The kids there are from ages pre-K – 7th grade.  The staff was so cool and fun to be aroun,  and I can see exactly why many kids enjoy coming to the SHACK for after school activities.

Each and every one of the kids signed an agreement that they were never going to drink, smoke, or do drugs.  They signed and I signed.

Miss West Virginia Orientation

Miss West Virginia Orientation was like the Super Bowl, or even like Miss America for me!  I always DREAMED of speaking as the reigning Miss WV to the contestants and parents about my experience and journey to the crown.  Throughout my year and even my years of competing, I often thought of what I would say at orientation and wanted to make sure I got it all in, so I developed a few PowerPoint slides to keep me on track and focused. 

This year, Miss West Virginia Orientation was held at The Greenbrier, a luxury resort in the southern part of West Virginia.  The Greenbrier is known for its lavish d├ęcor, southern belle feel, five star dinners, events and amenities.  Friday at 8:00 pm, I arrived to The Greenbrier after driving four hours from the extreme northern part of the state to the extreme southern part and spoke that evening to the contestants, parents, and local directors.

On Saturday, I had the wonderful opportunity to sing at the High Tea with The Greenbrier pianist.  I provided three songs to the guests – Tale as Old as Time, Precious Lord, and Country Roads, and immensely enjoyed myself as I hoped those in attendance did as well. 

Saturday evening finished up with the Miss WV Contestants vs. Greenbrier East Alumni basketball game.  The girls were coached by Jerry West, former NBA Los Angeles Lakers basketball player, and the Alumni team was coached by Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier.  Needless to say, the contestants did play a “fun” game, but hammed it up since they weren’t the most talented basketball players.  Miss WV 2010 contestants won the game, and I was privileged to sing the National Anthem.

Once Sunday rolled around and we finished up all the informational sessions, I felt the weekend was everything and MORE than I had dreamed it would be.

(Miss WV Board with Jerry West)

Mineral Co. CASA Memorial Service

With April being National Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Mineral County CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, decided to have a memorial service to commemorate yet another year serving children in the county.

The Middle School Teal of Steel band was in full swing, providing some great music to visit and dance to, as well as filling the courthouse lawn with interested bystanders.  I gave a short synopsis of how I got involved in CASA, why I chose child abuse and neglect as my platform, and what I have been able accomplish during my year that benefits the prevention of abuse and neglect. 

After speaking, I went over to the day care group that had assembled on the courthouse lawn.  After a few songs from the band, honorary CASA members raised the CASA flag in memory of those affected by child abuse and neglect.  

Mineral County Schools

Mineral County is the home county to Miss West Virginia 2008, Kayla Lynam.  So I reached out to her and her family and asked if I could "impose" and stay at their home for a night or two.  Thankfully, they agreed with open arms, and after my first school, New Creek Elementary, I ventured to my new "home away from home." 

Laura Lynam, Kayla’s mom, had MAJOR back surgery this past December.  Kayla finished up her degree after her year as Miss WV and took the spring off from job hunting to serve as her mother's nurse.  Now Kayla is living in Washington, DC and working for the US Navy as a Nuclear Propulsions Specialist!  I am still scratching my head as to what she actually does because it is way above my head, but she loves where she lives and the position she is in, so that is all that matters.

After MUCH needed catching up, Laura and I went to Gabriel Brothers where I found a few "steals of the century." After more catching up, it was time to hit the bed and rise for another day of appearances and schools.
(Mineral County Alternative School)

Jenna Hager Bush - Girls Scouts Event

Throughout life we are blessed to cross paths with wonderful, talented, giving people.  Liz Raese is one of those people.  I received a call from her and one of her extended business partners/friends about possibly attending the Black Diamond Council Girl Scouts event with guest speaker Jenna Bush Hager. 

Many may know, but prior to Miss West Virginia, I worked for one year with the Bush administration and traveled with President and First Lady Laura Bush.  During that time I never did get to actually meet Jenna or Barbara, so I jumped on the opportunity.

Jenna spoke openly about her experiences overseas and work with UNICEF.  She related it to the encouragement of her parents to always be a person of service.  Just like the Girls Scouts Black Diamond Council, Jenna and Barbara at a young age were using their talents to help serve others in need.

She was a wonderful speaker and not only was I able to enjoy the company of Liz Raese, but also a former Miss West Virginia and my boss, Executive Director of Miss WV, Leah Summers.

Final PASS Meeting

As I may have mentioned before, PASS, Partners in Assurance for Student Success, is the state organization that provides the funds for Miss WV to partake in a 100+ school tour during her year.  In the beginning of her year, she meets with the PASS Board and discusses her platform and what she hopes to achieve through her school tour.  At the end of the year, the PASS Board has Miss WV attend their last meeting before school is out to provide a recap of her school tour and year experiences.

Because I knew EXACTLY what I wanted out of my school tour, my first meeting with the PASS Board and its members was a piece of cake.  Well… last meeting wasn’t.  It became a realization to me that my year really was almost over, the school tour – the part I love the most – was almost over.  So during my speech I was able to get through most of it, but when I provided the number of days I had left to be Miss WV, I started to cry.  By the end of the emotional speech about my year being everything I wanted it to be, partly due to the PASS organization, everyone was crying, including Jack Wiseman, a seasoned veteran who serves as the President of the PASS Organization. 

It has been everything I wanted it to be….I have no regrets, only fond, fond memories and experiences.

Froggy 99 Charity Basketball Game

Froggy 99, Country Radio Station, each year puts on a basketball game where the students of Ohio Valley College play the professors and the local Marine Corps play against the member of the radio station, all in hopes to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network.

I was asked to attend their game and mingle with the audience members.  Autographs were signed, games were played, and surprisingly the Froggy 99 team had some great plays!  They insisted they weren’t professionals, but they fooled me:)