Mother/Daughter Event

30 10 2011

Life is about relationships, the rest is just details.  That’s what my Pastor always says and how true it is!  When we come to the end of each day, when we come to the end of all our days, we don’t think about the clothes we wore, the car we drove, the house we lived in…no, we think about the people that filled our lives and experiences.

This concept is so simple, yet so complicated.  It is so simple that even children completely understand it just by instinct.  When speaking to schools and smaller groups of youngsters, I always tend to ask them the things that are most important to them.  Never have I gotten, “My bike,” or “My toys.”  Every single time I ask, each answer has to do with a relationship they have.  “My parents, God, friends,” make up each answer.  And, occasionally I’ll get, “My dog,” which still counts as a relationship!  On the flip side, this concept is very complicated because even though relationships are essential and so important, it isn’t always easy to embrace all of the relationships around us.  Personalities clash, opinions differ and negativity places a shadow on our ability to accept people and show them love, but it’s necessary to do so.

The importance of relationships needs to be highlighted more often.  This weekend, I was so happy to be a part of an organization that completely understandsd that.  Trinity Lutheran in Elkhart, IN sought to celebrate relationships through a special event planned for mothers and daughters.  It was held in the school gymnasium Saturday night.  Round tables were set up with bright pink table linens.  A dessert buffet lined the back of the room with delicate mini sweets piled on top of dozens of tiered displays.  The evening began with a photo and autograph session and then led into a brief concert from Betsy Walker.  Betsy is an amazing vocalist and pianist who writes much of her own work.  Betsy and I actually used to attend the same church and I can remember sitting in the congregation and just being entirely mesmerized by her voice and ability.  The Lord has blessed her beyond measure and she is utilizing it to give all the glory and honor back to Him.  Thank you Betsy for sharing with us.

As soon as Betsy finished her concert, it was my time to take the stage to talk about the importance of relationships in our lives and even perform a few songs myself.  It was a marvelous and inspiring evening that I will truly treasure.

We finished our event around 8:15 and immediately hopped in the car to head back to Indy (3 hours away) to stop by home, change clothes, run to the bathroom and jump back in the car for our trip to Bowling Green, KY (4 & 1/2 hours away)!









From Muskegon to Muscatine

24 10 2011

I’m seeing a pattern in the places I travel.  Each week seems to have a similarity to the next.  Last weekend it was Muskegon, MI, this week, it’s Muscatine, IA.  The Miss Muscatine local pageant in Iowa asked me to be a part of their very first Pageant school fund raiser.

The local pageant gives a $10,000 scholarship to its winner.  The Miss Iowa receives $6,000 to put that amount in perspective.  The work of the volunteers and directors simply cannot be matched.

The pageant school was such a neat idea.  Myself, as well as Miss Iowas 1999 Dr. Jennifer Caudle, former Miss Iowa contestants, salon representatives and fitness instructors joined forces to offer advice and assistance to young women who are currently competing or considering competing in the Miss America system.

Michael and I traveled west to Iowa on Saturday to meet the board of directors as well as the other speakers for an evening cocktail reception.  I had the opportunity to visit with the current Miss Iowa, Jessica Pray and chat about her Miss America experience so far and what to expect.  I also had the chance to tell some funny stories and memories from my year of service.  It was so refreshing being able to just visit with friends.

The next morning, we started at around 8:30am at the Pageant School.  I began the talks, giving a synopsis of my journey to Miss America and as Miss America, as well as some helpful hints on how to be a good titleholder and leave a lasting legacy.  After I was finished with my section, I really enjoyed listening to the other speakers as they went through the phases of competition and opened up the floor for Q & A.  Then, a couple of media interviews, lunch, a panel discussion, more autographs and pictures and then Michael and I had to make our way back home.

It was wonderful being able to spend time with such a great local program.  Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers and directors who pour your entire being into this program.  You are an essential part of this organization and have made an amazing impact on the lives of every young woman who competes for a title.








LWML Retreat

8 10 2011

Throughout my time as Miss America 2009 and since, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.  This group of women makes it a constant goal to extend the Kingdom of God, work that we are all called to do as children of God.  They define what it means to Live on the Edge for the Lord and I take from their example every day.

This past weekend, I was able to travel to Muskegon, MI to present to the local LWML during their annual retreat.  The retreat is held every year at the Maranatha Bible and Convention Center.  It is right on Lake Michigan and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  When they say that Michigan has the most gorgeous sunsets, they truly mean it.

I arrived on Friday and after immediately meeting up with the women, we were escorted to dinner.  It was so sweet having conversations with the ladies about their excitement and anticipation about this weekend’s events.  It made it a little more difficult to eat, but I didn’t mind it at all.  They were so amazing and kind and I couldn’t help but get lost in conversation with them.

Friday evening, we were able to join together for a worship service.  Then it was time for me to travel to my condo for the night.  You could honestly walk right out of the front door of the condo I was staying in and be standing in sand next to Lake Michigan.  So stunning it took my breath away.

Saturday morning started bright and early as it was my chance to speak and perform for the ladies.  Before lunch, I spoke and did a question and answer session for three hours.  After lunch, it was time for an hour-long concert.  I was able to perform six of my favorite pieces from Broadway ballads to my talent song from Miss America.

The support and kindness of the LWML never ceases to amaze me and I will forever be thankful for their generosity to me and warm invitations to join them at their special events.

Women of Riley

27 09 2011

Serving as the National Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals was a life-changing experience.  So much so, that I have continued my work with our own CMN hospital right here in Indiana ever since.  I love Riley Children’s Hospital and cherish every moment I have with the kids, their families, the doctors and hospital staff.  We truly have one of the best hospitals in the world for children.

Another group of people who have become as passionate and dedicated to this program as I have is the Women of Riley group.  The group consists of about 75 women who volunteer their time, resources and money to improve the quality of life for every Riley child.  This group is responsible for the amazing Cancer Center Prom every year, which I was able to be part of.  It is one of my favorite appearances I have ever had and will remember that event for the rest of my life.

Today, I had the opportunity to present to this very prestigious group of women.  Mostly, I wanted to say thank you for their service to the thousands of kids who are hospitalized every year at Riley.  I wanted to hopefully pass on encouragement and motivation as well to assist them in their efforts.  And, I wanted to remind them that I am right at their side joining the fight against childhood illnesses and working every day to help the children and families of Riley have a better tomorrow.

The Women of Riley make such a difference, and it just goes to show that no matter who you are, or where you come from, all you need is an idea, passion and determination and you can make things happen.  These women are the epitome of changing lives.  They saw a need, made a plan on how they were going to fulfill that need and then put that plan into action.  They are making a difference in every child’s life who is touched by the Women of Riley.

Go, Fight Like a Girl and WiNUP!

26 09 2011

WiNUP is the Women’s International Network of Utility Professionals, and an amazing group to be a part of.  This year at their annual national convention, they asked if I would come speak about community service, sing, meet-and-greet with the ladies and take part in their luncheon presentation.  They asked me to come for two reasons, my emphasis on community service and my involvement with ovarian cancer awareness.

Every year at their nation convention, they choose a charitable cause for which they raise funds and spread awareness.  This year, they chose breast cancer as their initiative and wanted me to come speak about the importance of women knowing their bodies, awareness measures, seeking help, treatment and battling cancer of all types.  The theme of the convention was “Fight Like a Girl.”

All of the ladies were truly remarkable and inspiring.  Listening to a breast cancer survivor really touched my heart and continued to emphasize the need for more research, awareness and advocacy.  Thank you to all of the women at the WiNUP conference for making my visit such a special one and for allowing me to share with you.

Seymour Christian Church

25 09 2011

I love every chance I get to spend more time in my hometown of Seymour, IN.  It will always be home to me.  I especially love the opportunities I get in my hometown for faith-based organizations.  Every chance we get to witness, we need to accept it with humility and honor.

When Michael and I received the request from Seymour Christian Church, we immediately had to accept and start preparing for what would be an awesome experience.

As a way to increase attendance and extend the Kingdom of God, they brought we in to a brief performance and share a message.  I got a chance to speak to all of the Sunday School students and two services filled with people.  The Holy Spirit was truly present in that place.

The church was so kind as to also offer a chance for an autograph and picture with me after the services for $10, and then they donated all of the money to Ovar’coming Together.  I was able to present a check to our organization for $1,050.  I am so grateful and overwhelmed at their faithfulness and graciousness.  Everyone at the church was the embodiment of Christ and of His love.  They have no idea how much that money will help in efforts to conquer ovarian cancer.

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to be a witness of your word.  Thank you for kindness and generosity and the serene heart that gives affectionately and unselfishly.  Your light shines through those that always choose to love above all things.   Amen.

Ovarian Cancer Run/Walk

24 09 2011

Ovar’coming Together coordinates some truly remarkable events that reach the community in an amazing way that is interactive, fun and memorable.  Our largest event is our Run/Walk held at the end of every September in the historic downtown Indianapolis City Market.  It was this event last year that I was asked to be the honorary chairwoman of the event, and from there I knew I had to get more involved.

This year was our largest attendance we have ever had.  It was a major success and we are so appreciative of everyone coming out in support of this cause.







A local business turns teal for ovarian cancer awareness








Co-Founder Pam Faerber, myself, Miss Indiana 2011 Jackie Jerlecki and Co-Founder Nancy Hines










All of our survivors who joined us at the Run/Walk








Miss Indiana 2011 Jackie Jerlecki and myself outside the Hello Gorgeous RV (An organization that gives free makeovers to women battling cancer)











Our Hello Gorgeous makeover recipient as she gets a manicure