"We need another volunteer" was music to my ears. After a crazy whirlwind of 3 weeks as VP Recruitment for my sorority, I finally had a weekend where I had little planned so I was able to volunteer for MusicLink at the Mall of America. MusicLink raises money for kids that wouldn't be able to afford music lessons. They had various talented kids come, donate, and perform to raise money. I was working the registration table and let me tell you, I saw some amazing talent! Piano, guitar, vocal...it was an enjoyable volunteer opportunity. I even got to watch Michelle (pre-teen) sing for the first time! I had always known she was passionate about music (see her first music video here!) but it was great to finally hear her! Shout out to Michelle's mom who took all the pictures because as much as I love my great new camera, I forgot to charge the batteries. Rookie mistake.
It's been a crazy last month getting back from Nationals and conquering finals which is not an easy task. But even exhausted from school, I was able to get in the Christmas spirit by volunteering my time with the One for Joe organization which collects toys for boys and girls battling cancer. It was quite an early morning in Andover, MN which was made possible by a grande mocha. Accompanying me was my fabulous boyfriend who volunteered to make the early, hour-long drive.
I was able to meet Joe, the founder of the event, and thanks to the contributions of the local community and Sam's club, the One for Joe organization was able to make a true impact by collecting over 1,000 toys. They even did a segment on Channel 9 news about the fundraising!
So funny story. I was also supposed to attend the Lights in the Park event later that night. I was a little late getting there and there was no way for me to get where I was supposed to be! The only way in was sitting in a line of cars that stretched the entire street and the line wasn't moving. My boyfriend and I drove around 3 times to see if there was any other way to get to where I needed to be and eventually after 40 minutes of circling, we gave up and turned around. Sometimes, it's just not meant to be. Even Miss Minnesota is human.
SHOUT OUT to all the NAM Minnesota contestants this year. Because of your donation of a book or stuffed animal, I am able to give over 340 books to Women's Advocates, a local women's shelter in St. Paul that my sorority and I closely work with.
I love the title of Miss Minnesota for the fun and glamorous events (like NATIONALS in just a week!) but also for the positive impact I can make on my community and the entire state. I know the children at Women's Advocates will love this addition to their library.
After a late night in the U of M Homecoming parade, I survived the early wake-up call to go to the Autism Speaks walk at the Mall of America (with a little help from a friend called Starbucks). I met up with Michelle, our Pre-Teen queen, and her mom to walk for a very great cause. I got to catch up and hear all about how busy Michelle has been which has included modeling in a charity runway show and shooting her very first music video. How cool! We signed some shirts, did a lap around the bottom floor of MOA (which I now have pretty much memorized), and got to run under a giant parachute which was pretty much like reliving the BEST days of gym class in kindergarten. I'm always a little kid at heart.
Kylie, Ava, and I
Then a quick change into some 2008 NAM Nationals hot pink gear and I was off to represent NAM at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk which I have been fortunate enough to attend multiple times. I met up with my two littlest queens, Kylie (Princess) and Ava (Jr. Pre Teen), and their families and friends to walk over 3 miles...which is a long way for little legs! We were also joined by the 2007 Miss Minnesota Teen, Samantha. Together we braved the weather which kept switching from misting to sprinkling just slightly which wouldn't have been a problem if you weren't wearing a crown that could tarnish! Hence why the crowns were taken off half way through and gloves and hats put on. Oh Minnesota weather.
I had such a blast at this event not just because I got to wear hot pink and show support for such an amazing cause, but I got to hang out with kids. Living in the city, I don't get to spend much time with kids and I had forgotten how insightful they are. Parker (Ava's little brother) and I talked about the airplanes flying overhead and how cool it was that we could hear them before we could see them because of all the fog in the sky. We explored an all too tempting weeping willow tree and agreed it should be in a Taylor Swift music video. I gave piggy back rides, talked about best friends in kindergarten, and got to pet the biggest dog Parker has ever seen, a Bernese Mountain Dog. Hanging out with two Kindergarteners and a third grader made me realize how precious life is at any stage in life and that there is no "too young" to start giving back. I'm so proud of my two youngest sister queens that show age is just a number. Even though I may be 19, spending the day with Kylie, Parker, and Ava reminded me it's okay to stop and explore, enjoy the little things of life, and support each other on what seems like a road that will never end. Because let's face it, all we really need to know we learned in Kindergarten.
Between all the craziness of recruitment, I was able to sneak away early on a Saturday morning to support an amazing and touching cause. The Hope & Hearts run is put on by the Missing Grace foundation which raises money to inform families on how to prevent stillbirths and support those families who have been through the loss of a child. It was so touching to see so many families and friends come together to celebrate and sometimes mourn for their children. There were prayer tents available if needed and a whole ceremony where balloons were released in that lost child's name. Kayla (teen) and I were able to help out with that part as we passed out balloons to the walkers once they were done with the 5k. Earlier in the day there was also a kids race where each little kid received a metal. So many of them wanted us to know about it! Kayla and I had so much fun talking to the kids that came up to us and the families at the run. We also ran into the Cambridge City Queens and got to hang out with them for a little bit too (which turned into a mini photoshoot, no big deal).
What a weekend! Going straight from a 5 day week of recruitment practice for my sorority, my mom and I hopped in the car and headed off to Wisconsin State Pageant. It took us a good 4 and a half hours to get up there (but only 3 to get back...hmmm?) Being visiting royalty is one of my favorite experiences of being a state queen. Knowing little girls can't get close enough or talk enough to you while the older girls look up to you and follow your example reminds me of what an honor it is to be a NAM queen. It takes a lot of effort and energy, but when you have Jr. Pre Teens complimenting every aspect of your outfit or connecting with Teens while you learn how active they are in their high schools, it's totally worth it. I had 2 full days of helping out with registration, rehearsals, formal wear competitions, and final pageants.
As I've grown with National American Miss since 6th grade, I've expanded my "NAMily" aka my NAM family. When I attend pageants like Wisconsin, I get to see them all! This includes the staff who have been around for years or 2010 queens I met at Nationals and current queens who were at the Minnesota state pageant.
Along with queens from across the country, I had fun being glamorous onstage helping with final pageants. Who doesn't like presenting huge trophies and beautiful medals? I was also able to be in the production number dance to You Make Me Feel. It was a challenge because usually queens learn a similar dance at Nationals. I didn't learn it at Nationals or Minnesota so just like the contestants, this was my very first time learning and preforming the dance but I rocked it and had fun dancing my heart out.
And even queens and staff get a little goofy at times! Here are a few great shots during our down times.
It was quite the unpleasant task to get my photoshoot hair from the previous day to de-tangle enough to be presentable at the Miracles of Mitch Triathlon this morning. With some help from my great friend Starbucks, I was able to make it through the 4:45am wake up call. I don't think I'll ever be a morning person.
But if I was fully awake or not, the triathletes were! I soon got rolling as I helped hand out t-shirts (which were an awesome turquoise/dark blue/orange) to the triathletes. I saw all ages, from 7 to 17 participating for a great reason. Returners or first-timers, these athletes were ready and excited to get the race started.
After a quick stop at the Prize Central tent which was loaded with Miracles of Mitch cow-bells, t-shirts, trading cards, mugs, dog tags etc., I lined up to cheer on the kids as they began their procession to the water to start the first leg of the triathlon: swimming. Then came biking and then finally running to the finish line where each participant got a medal. Together, Miracles of Mitch had 1,100 kids participating at the Lake Ann race and raised over $500,000 this year. WOW!
What a great and exhausting day! I got to shoot with the incredible Dan Davis with Hair and Makeup by the fabulous Jamie. We went through 4 looks: two headshots, my formal gown, and a fun crazy look. I got a quick glimpse at a few of the pictures and I'm so excited to view them all. I feel I'm going to have some tough decisions. I love being Miss Minnesota!
Besides hanging out with two great professionals that lovingly bicker like siblings, my day was made when a woman in line paid for my coffee! It was her birthday and wanted to do something sweet for another person. So, I passed it on and paid for the person behind me. I love being part of things bigger than just myself.
Thanks Dan and Jamie!
Meeting the Clearwater Royalty
Our first parade of the season was at the Clearwater Heritage Days celebration. And no, I didn't actually check to see if the water was clear, but I'll take their word. The three day long festival celebrates the town's history. Clearwater once had the longest Ferry on the Mississippi River and although the Ferry and river crossing are no longer there, the town all comes out to celebrate its heritage.
Holly (Jr. Teen queen) and I had a fabulous time riding in style in a 2013 Ford Mustang Convertible that was just built in June! It's the same model of car which will be given away at NAM Nationals to one lucky girl. Keep the fingers crossed because I loved that car.
The grand parade was at 7pm and the weather couldn't have been any better. Once we got there (which is a whole other hour and a half long in traffic story), I was ready to get waving! Also in the parade were horses, awesome old cars, a crazy band, and a giant shopping cart. Companies, politicians, churches and lots and lots of royalty waved, walked, and threw candy along the parade route. A lot of the city royalty have their own floats they use year after year. We were right behind the Montrose royalty when half way through the parade, their music stopped. Soon I see one of the moms running around back, opening a latch, and half crawling, half jumping inside as the float was still moving. After some quick handiwork, the music started again and all was well. The mom jumped out again and ran around to the front. What would we do without pageant moms? The incident kept me laughing throughout the parade.
After grabbing some dinner at a cute family owned restaurant, my family and I were just about to head back to the car when the fireworks started! We were able to stay and watch the show which was the perfect end to the day.
It's Sunday and after getting some much needed sleep after two appearances the day before, I was rocking my pink accessories at The Hartford & ReMAX Results Breast Cancer Ride. Holly, my Junior Teen, and I volunteered for hours, getting the bikers lunch and welcoming them home after 2 full days of biking. The riders raised over $750 each and dedicated an entire weekend to biking 121 miles. WOW! Holly wants to bike next year and I was a little hesitant until I meet a 14 year old girl that had just finished. Perhaps I could do it!
We had the honor to meet some amazing and inspiring people including Breast Cancer survivors and the founder of the ride, Carrie. For the past 5 years Carrie has honored her mother's memory by organizing this ride which has now raised over 1 million dollars to aid people fighting breast cancer just like her mother did. We were also able to meet cyclist Oz Sanchez who is headed to the Paralympics! Best wishes to him as he heads to London later this month.
Right after, Kayla (Teen) met me at the Mall of America to do a little gown shopping. GLITZ is becoming my second home. Gotta love the sales!