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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Birthdays, Fundraisers, and 4 Weeks

Four weeks from today a new Miss Arkansas will be crowned! Excited?!!! This weekend 14 contestants were added to the Miss America 2014 class. Miss Arkansas will be the final addition to the group, and I know all 45 contestants in our great state are feeling the thrill of being only 1 month away!

Monday, June 10th, I spoke with the Epsilon Sigma Alpha  (ESA) service organization in Blytheville. These ladies were so kind to allow me to share what I do as a local titleholder, my personal platform of service, and even a little about my testimony from my time spent in Uganda. These ladies do so much in their community and before I left they offered to make a donation to the charity of my choice. Of course, I chose Children's Miracle Network Hospitals! I am very grateful to them for allowing me to come and share my heart of service with those who share my passion of serving the local community.

This week has been very busy! It was my intention to share these things with you Friday, but you know what they say about the "best laid plans..." My goal is to get on a regular schedule of updates every Friday. Just an FYI. So be sure and check back each weekend for details on what I've been up to as Miss River Delta!

Last Saturday I celebrated my 24th birthday! It just so happens that I share this birthday with the Natural State! Arkansas officially became a state on June 15, 1836. Since this blog is meant to allow me to be more transparent with those reading, honestly, it was a bittersweet day for me. Turning another year older always presents exciting opportunities and challenges, but this year the day weighed heavily on my mind as it brought me into my final year of eligibility in the Miss America Organization. This year I will "age out" as we say in the biz. I have enjoyed four wonderful years with the Miss Arkansas Pageant and while turning 24 signifies my final year in competition, I look forward to all the times I will be able to spend in the coming years giving back to this program that has given so much to me!

Thursday of last week I visited the set of our local news station, KAIT8, to talk about my upcoming fundraiser, the Miss Summer Sweetheart Pageant benefiting CMNH. A big thank you to Diana Davis for taking the time to get this set up for me, and to Josh Harvison who I had the pleasure of being interviewed by. I'll tell you more about the event below.

KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Friday, I

Also this week, I hosted a "Change for Children" drive with the Nettleton School's Programs, Little Raider and Camp Raider. When I was in elementary school I attended the Camp Raider program and I was ecstatic to return this week to raise money for CMNH! We began the fundraiser on Monday when I visited each of the groups to get them excited about the week of collecting spare change and  told them that the winning group from each program would receive a pizza party with Miss River Delta. As Friday brought the conclusion of the fundraiser, I got each group's contribution counted before heading back to chow down with the winners. All together both programs raised $361.07!!! Not too shabby for children ages 3-12!

The pageant was a wonderful success! I couldn't have done it without the help of my Diamond State Princesses' moms, Kim Adams and Liane Neshat. These two ladies took over a good majority of the planning and are the primary reason the event went off without a hitch. Thank you to these great ladies I have the privilege of calling my friends!

My beautiful princesses!

In my Master of Ceremonies look courtesy of Clark's Bridal and Formal in Jonesboro!

I'll be spending next week in Blytheville with my sister queens as we practice our on-stage competition, do mock interviews, and visit civic organizations and community programs for what my director has appropriately termed, Beauty Bootcamp. This will be my third year attending bootcamp and I'm looking very forward to serving the community of Blytheville. It has become a second home to me! 

Check back soon for more updates! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Miss Missouri 2013

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Miss Missouri's Outstanding Teen and Miss Missouri Pageants! Thank you so much to those who made this trip possible. The Miss Missouri Pageant is such a wonderful experience. The pageant production is top notch, and the emcee Sydney Friar,  Miss Missouri 2011, reminded me of our wonderful Lacey Fleming Glover, Miss Arkansas 2004, with her ease standing at the mic and keeping the whole audience entertained with quick wit and poise!

Never to be forgotten, is my growing relationship with my sister queens. If there was just one thing I could take with me when my time competing is all over, I could never give up the genuine relationships I've made with the other contestants. Our Miss Arkansas contestants are truly some of the most amazing people I've had the privilege of meeting. And my sisters this year are no exception. Jennifer, Miss Northeast Arkansas, and Maggie Benton, Miss Lights of the Delta, are two pretty impressive young women, and I can't wait for Arkansas to see that on the stage this July!

With the Miss Missouri royalty!

The Gaggle! 
(nickname courtesy of our Director, Marrietta Jerome)

Yes, we're definitely getting swimsuit ready at Dairy Queen!

The last thing I'll share with you this post is that in addition to the pageant highlights from the weekend, my time in Missouri also came with a very special lunch with one of my best college friends who I haven't seen in nearly two year! Shannon is one of the most faithful people I know, and because of her great relationship with Jesus she is someone I frequently turned to in college. She served as my Vice President when I was President of the Honors College Association, we were involved in the ASU Student Government Association together, and now she is excelling at her next big adventure: becoming Dr. Hutson. That's right, she's in medical school, and I just know this world is going to see some amazing things from her.

More to come soon from my latest appearances. So thrilled to say I have a booked calendar leading right up to the Miss Arkansas Pageant. Check back for frequent updates!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

6 Weeks Out

We're now weeks away from the crowning of our next Miss Arkansas! Here's a quick update on what has been happening in my preparations recently. It's been a busy few weeks. I said in my last post that I would give you the run down on our Miss Arkansas Contestant Meeting weekend, so here it is...

We'll begin with the always fantastic, Tony Bowls' Photoshoot! I don't have any photos to share from the actual shoot as I wouldn't want to give anything away, but I can tell you that Tony Bowls and all of the volunteers ensured yet again that we contestants felt like royalty. And heres why:
Once we arrive, we're whisked away to have our make-up and hair done. A gorgeous Tony Bowls' gown is then chosen for us with shoes and accessories to match. Finally, the real fun begins when we got to work with Jason McMaster's and his team of photography geniuses. All the while, you can hear the team "ooo" and "ahh" over your photos which keeps the energy going and makes you feel very special. I can't say thank you enough to these wonderful people for what a perfect time they make this out to be for us contestants. Of course, my Saturday didn't end here. I quickly gathered my things after the shoot and drove back to Jonesboro as my very dear cousin, Bret Sanders, graduated from high school. She'll be attending Ouachita Baptist University in the fall and I can't wait to see the amazing things soon to come in her life!

Back in Little Rock Sunday morning we got started early with the Miss Arkansas Contestant Meeting Luncheon and Lottery. With a pretty decent lottery draw, I am thrilled to be returning to Group B this year. My official contestant number is B27 and I have the privilege of competing in this group with both old friends and new faces that I can't wait to get to know better!

Group B

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I have the best pageant family. The Northeast Arkansas Pageant Association has been up and running for 31 years now and their record of phenomenal young women who come through the program never ceases to amaze me! Just check out the number of girls who will be present on the Miss Arkansas stage this summer who were at one time members of this family. From left: Ashley Walthall, Miss Lights of the Delta 2011; Mason Magouryk, Miss Northeast Arkansas, 2012; Me, Miss Northeast Arkansas 2011 and Miss Lights of the Delta 2012; Jenn Ulloa, Miss Northeast Arkansas 2013; our reigning Miss Arkansas, Sloane Roberts, Miss Lights of the Delta OT 2007; Maggie Benton, Miss Lights of the Delta 2013; Daley Johnston, Miss Lights of the Delta OT 2009; and Mackenzie Moore, Miss Lights of the Delta OT 2008. 

Don't worry, all of the fun didn't end after Sunday. Bright and early Monday morning I drove one contestant to Arkansas Children's Hospital (as she was in a different group than me) and then made my way over to the Miss Arkansas Golf Tournament. 

Just showing off our Children's Miracle Network Hospital shirts

We enjoyed a fun filled morning of photos and golfing before my group made our way over to Arkansas Children's Hospital for a tour after lunch. Thanks to the hard work of some wonderful people all 45 contestants were able to walk through a comprehensive tour of the hospital and we even had time to make "Happy Birthday" and "Congratulations" posters for the kids. From someone who has seen what hospital care for children is like in the Third World, let me just say that we are blessed with such a wonderful facility complete with life-saving technology, the Angel One helicopters, well-educated doctors who make the difference for so many families every single day. 

After our tour, we returned to the Pleasant Valley Country Club just in time to see Miss Arkansas, Sloane Roberts, fly over the golf course in a helicopter. She went up to release 1500 golf balls over the eighteenth hole. Each ball contained a number and a few lucky participants went home with extra price money thanks to a very creative idea by the Miss Arkansas Golf Tournament planning committee. All-in-all, it was a very exciting (even slightly exhausting) weekend. It served to make me even more excited about the upcoming competition in July!

Lastly, I just want to say a huge thank you to the Jonesboro Visual and Performing Arts Magnet school, the Assistant Principal, Mrs. Rodely, and the mother of one of my Miss Arkansas Diamond State Princesses, Liane Neshat, for allowing me to come and encourage the 5th and 6th grade classes to work hard, to be involved in serving other, and to dream big dreams! My favorite part of these school visits comes at the end when the students get a little time to ask me questions. Interestingly enough my first question was from a young 5th grader who wanted to know if he could make a living playing the violin since I was playing the flute for the Miss Arkansas Pageant. As I was driving home that day, I passed a house in my neighborhood with a young man sitting outside with his family practicing his violin. Turns out: we're neighbors! One of the best parts of wearing the crown is the people I get to meet! 

That's all for now. I'm headed to the Miss Missouri Pageant this weekend so check back soon for updates from that exciting trip!

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