Friday, June 27, 2008

Quick Update

Wanted to check in quickly and let everyone know how it's going!

It's been such a busy but fun week. It's hard to believe that the competition has started. I think from now forward, everything is going to fly. Yesterday I competed in talent and I felt really good ab0ut it. Tonight I compete in swimsuit, onstage question, and evening gown. I felt good about my interview, so we will see on Saturday night! There are a lot of strong contenders here and at this point there are any number of girls who could become Miss Virginia.

Last night opera singer Elizabeth Crot won talent and first-timer Chinah Helmondollar won swimsuit. Chinah has worked really hard and it was great to see her rewarded for that!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Read about Sarah and I

Click here to read about the News and Advance article in which Miss Lynchburg and myself were interviewed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's off to Miss Virginia

Well, we are now just two short days away from arrival in Roanoke. There are so many thoughts going through my head that it would be difficult to process them all and share them, but I’ll do my best.

First of all, I want to share something exciting. A while ago, I used the press contact at my school to locate the local paper. She put the word out that there are two “Lynchburgers” competing for Miss Virginia. Miss Lynchburg, Sarah Fitzpatrick, and myself were interviewed this morning by the Lynchburg News and Advance. She said she was going to write her story on Sunday, so it will probably be in the paper during Miss Virginia week. It was great to talk to her and share what we are doing!

On that note, I have had a “Miss Virginia” day. I feel like this whenever I’m running between my two jobs and negotiating a whole slew of appointments. Thankfully, everything went well and it was a really successful day! I cannot believe that tomorrow is my last day before Miss Virginia 2008! I’m really looking forward to having a great week, spending time with the girls I have grown close to, and celebrating the new Miss Virginia! A lot of hard work has gone into this and at this point, I just have to do my best after all my preparation and know that I’ll be truly blessed if my hard work and God’s plan happen to collide.

This last week has been one of the craziest that I have ever faced. I came down with laryngitis and a sinus infection and saw three doctors in one week trying to feel better as soon as possible. I lost my voice last Monday and have spent the week resting and praying that all will be good come tomorrow. I’ve dealt with a very difficult situation in my on-campus job. Today, I watched nearly in tears as my Randolph-Macon ring was cut off my middle finger. I put the ring on days ago, and my finger started swelling. Yesterday and this morning I tried everything- hand in ice water, Vaseline, greasy soap, and holding my hand above my head trying to reduce the swelling so I could get the ring off. After finally talking to a pharmacist who recommended I do something before I lost circulation to my finger, I went to the mall and asked a jeweler what to do. All three women in the store agreed- we had to cut it off. My finger had swelled even more and was red near the ring. So I watched as one of my most precious possessions was cut off my own finger. They assured me it could be fixed, but it was heartbreaking watching that ring be sliced. I came back to the area later in the day to locate one final item for Miss Virginia, and got carsick. Earlier in the week, Jimmy and I drove all the way to Harrisonburg for one final fitting, which resulted in me getting sick in the car on the way back. In addition to the laryngitis, for five days I couldn’t keep any food down. I only feel like my stomach is just back to normal.

Whether I do or don’t come home a member of that Top 11, I know I have worked extremely hard to get to this point and that next week is all about sharing that work with everyone else! What we have managed to accomplish in such a short time period is truly amazing. Having the patience to get through all of the fundraising, searching for clothing, hitting snags, and changing my talent routine only convinced me that I have the determination and faith in myself to make things work no matter what the instance. I’ve driven through two tornado warnings on pageant business, had my Randolph Macon ring cut off my finger, been locked in the national D-Day memorial while on pageant business, driven 13 hours in one day numerous times, and tried on 71 evening gowns. We’ve spoken to everyone but Barry Manilow himself trying to get my talent cleared, and then finally shifted gears for a new song and routine just a month before Miss Virginia.

And I truly could not have done this without the help of my directors- and the numerous other caring individuals who stepped forward to help me. Although some wish not to be named, I am so grateful for everything you have done for me. My employers have been so patient with me and supportive of what I’m doing, and I appreciate that. I know next week is going to be fun, busy, and rewarding. I have worked so hard to get there, and I can’t wait to tell you how it goes!

So, ideally I’ll be able to check in next week, but I don’t want to make any promises!

The new Miss Ohio is...

Jenna Wilson
Kasey Wilson
Erica Gelhaus
Becky Minger

Karissa Martin

Miss Ohio Awards

The awesome thing about Miss Ohio is the huge amount of scholarships they give. I think Victoria Miller won her talent award tap dancing to “Dancin’ Fool”- the song I used to use!

Ohio Grassroots: Go to each local whose girl made the semi-finals

Non Semi Finalist Talent Award, $500: Victoria Miller

Non Semi Finalist Talent Award, $500: Katherine Wolford

Non-Semi Finalist Classical Award, $500: Courtney Kania

(wow, the sweeps winners are really picking them up!)

Marvin Hamlish Talent, $500: Kasey Wilson

Betty Estep Classical Talent Award, $500: Kasey Wilson

Highest Scored Dancer Award, $500: Victoria Miller

Rosalie McAtee Interview Award, Non-Semifinalist $1000: Emily Cousino

Rosalie McAtee Interview Award, Semi-finalist $1,500: Shannon O’Neill

Paul Herlihy Spirit Awards, Returning Contestant, $500: Kasey Wilson

New contestant: Courtney Kania

On stage questions

Miss Ohio Finals

On Stage Questions

Kasey: Recently, the US provided aid to China and Myanmar following disasters. Should the US do this when there are so many needs in our borders?

Said that it’s the moral thing to do.

Jenna: Several high profile politicians, including Marc Dann, have been forced to resign their positions due to actions outside their official duties. Should we consider these qualities?

Yes, they should be held to a higher standard. Gave a very solid answer.

Karissa: Going green is the new catchphrase. Who should be responsible? Individuals, corporations, or government?

Good answer about starting with individuals and taking it up.

Erica: The rule of supply and demand is demonstrated by our dependence on foreign oil. We currently have rules protecting many of our wildlife areas. Is it time to lessen the restrictions so that we can be more self-sufficient?

Referenced two real places (Florida and Alaska) and said we should decide between the environment and fuel, that we should choose environment. Good answer.

Becky: During this years primaries, Obama was criticized for comments from his pastor. Is it fair to assume that Obama has the same qualities as his pastor?

This was a weird question to answer and Becky handled it well.

It looked like everyone was a little bit nervous, but who wouldn't be?

Miss Ohio Top Five

And the top five finalists are:

Top Five

Jenna Wilson

Becky Minger

Karissa Martin

Erica Gelhaus

Kasey Wilson

My heart is broken for Andrea and Jillian.
I think at this point that the crown is Kasey Wilson's to lose.
I'm also sad to see that all of the fashion forward interview suits didn't make it to the top five.

Miss Ohio Top Ten

Andrea Andryscik

Jillian Dansko

Kasey Wilson

Jenna Wilson

Karissa Martin

Christie Youssef

Erica Gelhaus

Nanciann Strosnider

Katie Camp

Becky Minger

11th: Kristen Haas

12th: Shannon O'Neill

As Mark finished the top ten, he announced a surprise: that two more semi-finalists would join the "Top Ten" this year. I listed the order they were called above.

Leading into the finals

So, you're curious about where things stand in Ohio prior to the final night? Here's a quick recap:

Andrea Andryscik: Preliminary Swimsuit Winner
Jenna Wilson:Preliminary Talent Winner
Karissa Martin: Preliminary Swimsuit and Talent Winner
Kasey Wilson: Preliminary Swimsuit and Talent Winner

Things look really promising for these four and for all the contestants tonight! I obviously have a few favorites that I'll keep quiet for now. But I can't help but wave my giant "Go Andrea!" sign! She'd make an awesome Miss Ohio.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Miss Ohio Awards: Friday

Miss Ohio Swimsuit Winner:
Kasey Wilson (now a double prelim winner)

Miss Ohio Talent Winner:
Jenna Wilson

Americanism Awards:
2nd place, Jillian Dansko
1st place, Krystle Formosa

Community Service Essay Winners:
2nd place, Jenna Wilson
1st Place Winner, Andrea Andryscik

O'Guinn Memorial Award
Contestant who exhibits the Miss America ideals onstage and off
Kasey Wilson

Connie Senstock (sp?) Award
Given to a contestant with healthcare field major or platform

Theresa Ann Wagner Scholarships
Jessica Barrett
Victoria Miller
Heather Waterman

Ya-Ya Sisters Scholarship
Heather Waterman

Miss America Organization Community Service Award
Megan Wombacker (go Megan!!)

CMN Award
Kristy Moneysmith

Miss America Academic Award
Erica Gelhaus

Miss Ohio

On stage

On Stage Questions

Krystle Formosa chose a dark blue two piece suit.

Was asked about what schools can do to identify students with dyslexia.

Sophia Davis, wore a white long sleeve dress.

Was asked about presenting her platform to presidential candidates.

Courtney Kania chose a yellow two piece suit.

Was asked about scoliosis screening.

Katherine Wolford wore a red two piece suit.

Was asked about unhealthy lifestyle effect on children.

Heather Wells wore a yellow suit with black accents.

Asked about what schools can do tohelp kids with an active lifestyle.

Katie- I had been told to keep an eye out for her dress, and I loved it!

Asked about encouraging teens to volunteer even though they have a very busy lifestyle.

Jessica Barrett wore a red two piece suit.

Asked about helping people overcome concern about organ donation.

Karissa Martin wore the same suit I believe she wore last year.

Asked about the positive effects of her skin cancer prevention campaign.

Roberta then did her farewell, and bonus points if you caught the Abby in the slideshow!

Miss Ohio Swimsuit

Miss Ohio Swimsuits

Erica Gelhaus worked it in a pink bathing suit with black piping.

Kristen Haas opted for a blue one piece.

Christie Youssef chose a yellow two piece suit.

Victoria Miller walked the stage in a blue two piece.

Heather Waterman looked great in a blue two piece with gold piping.

Amy Allen wore her black two piece.

Becky Minger wore a purple two piece suit.

Megan Wombacker wore a blue piece to showcase her swimsuit walk! Megan, I can tell you have been working extremely hard!

Shannon O’Neill wore a blue two piece with some rhinestone accents.

Kasey Wilson looked fabulous in a black two piece.

P.S. I love watching Jenileigh peform!

Miss Ohio Talent

Talent Notes

Kristy Moneysmith, singing “break it to me gently”

Wow, I loved bringing a song like this to the stage!

Brandi Herceg, dancing to “Man Wanted”

Alyssa Hanson, “There You’ll Be” Vocal

Andrea Andryscik, singing “I want more”

I personally think Andrea sounded great.

Jillian Dansko, tapping to “Classic Drum Battle”

I LOVED her costume. This is what I would love to dance in! I wish I was as skinny as Jillian so i could steal the costume!

She got SO into this song. And like I said, I loved the costume. It had the perfect amount of pizaazz on it to match the song.

Nanciann Strosnider, singing “Happy Days are Here Again”

Like I have said before- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Nanciann won prelim talent in this gown and with this song last year. I think she has a very strong chance to win talent again tonight.

Jenna Wilson, singing "I am changing"

Emily Cousino, singing "If I can dream"

Miss Ohio Random Notes

Like Abby, I’m really just trying to enjoy the show tonight. I still have my little Microsoft Word box opened in the corner of the screen, but it’s more fun to watch the show for once!

The production number from Phantom of the Opera was actually really good. I thought Roberta sounded great. I’m excited for the next round of girls!

I have to be honest and say this was probably my least favorite night of evening gowns. There were a handful I liked. I will also say, however, that so far tonight the production numbers have been MUCH better than the last two nights. So far, there haven’t been any appearances by aliens or hippies, which I can’t say for the last two nights.

Miss Ohio Night Three:

Miss Ohio Notes, Final Preliminary Night

Evening gowns. I forgot to mention the other nights that I love the music they are using for EG. They are using an instrumental version of “No Air.”

Krystle Formosa looked elegant in a champagne halter with a beaded top.

Sophia Davis opted for a champagne gown as well with a ruffled slit.

Courtney Kania chose a newly popular liquid beaded gown in a blue-green with a halter neck.

Katherine Wolford picked a flowing purple/blue (I couldn’t quite tell)dress with several layers of fabric.

Heather Wells wore her blue beaded gown that I believe she wore at Miss Maple City.

Katie Camp looked gorgeous in a red strapless gown with a ruffled slit.

Jessica Barrett chose what looked like a purple strapless gown with beadwork on top.

Karissa Martin selected a strapless dark purple gown with some beading on top.

From locals to Miss Ohio

I competed last summer in Miss Greater Cleveland and Miss North Coast and a number of girls from those pageants are now on the Miss Ohio stage. I just want to say good luck to all of the girls, especially Andrea! Andrea looks outstanding and is such a sweet and dedicated girl.

Don't forget to vote for me to be Miss Virginia at:


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Miss Ohio Awards: Thursday

Hall of Fame Inductee: John Kunkle
Preliminary Swimsuit: Karissa Martin
(this makes her a double prelim winner!)
Preliminary Talent: Kasey Wilson

Miss Ohio Onstage Questions

Miss Ohio On Stage Questions

Roberta had both her head mic and handheld on so there was a weird echo going on…

Kristy Moneysmith wore a standard black interview suit with blue accents.

Brandi Herceg wore an orange colored suit.

Alyssa Hanson wore a white pantsuit.

Andrea looked HOT in a dress! Go girl!!! She was very modern and well spoken.

Jillian looked great in her light blue dress.

Nanciann wore a silver styled suit. I couldn’t tell if it was a dress or a regular suit.

Jenna Wilson wore her printed suit for her onstage question.

Emily Cousino wore a black suit.

Miss Ohio Swimsuits

Miss Ohio Night Two: Swimsuit

Krystle Formosa, modeled a two piece zebra suit.

Sophia Davis wore a red bikini and looked great! Loved her classic rock choice.

Courtney Kania looked great in a gold.yellow bikini.

Katie Wolford also chose classic rock to work her one piece purple bathing suit.

Heather Wells looked awesome in her two piece suit!

Wow Katie Camp! She picked a techno remix to walk to her watermelon colored two piece. I’d be surprised if she didn’t win swimsuit.

Jessica Barret modeled an orange two piece.

Karissa Martin worked it in a black and pink two piece. In great shape!

Talent Notes, Miss Ohio Night Two

Erica Gelhaus, Singing opera. Erica is a real pro with opera- it sounds like you are listening to a recording. Very strong talent!

Kristen Haas, dancing to “My Favorite Things”

Kristen has always been a beautiful and talented ballerina.

Christie Youssef, harp to “Baroque Flamenco”

I liked the dress that she wore. I don’t know anything about harp but it sounded great.

Victoria Miller, tap dance to “Dancing Fool”

I had high expectations, since this is the song I just stopped using. She did a great job. I fielded a phone call halfway through, so I might have missed some of it!

Heather Waterman, singing “Shy”. Very cute rendition

Amy Allen, singing “Summertime” Good job, Amy! I’m glad you finally got that well-earned spot on the Miss Ohio stage.

Becky Minger, singing “Gold” Another phone call interrupted me, so I didn’t catch this one.

Megan W., tapping to “Hittin’ Remix”. Go Megan! I loved the acapella break!

Shannon O'Neill, singing "Don't Rain on my Parade"

Kasey Wilson, singing an opera aria. Another strong opera singer.

Notes, Part One

Miss Ohio Evening Wear Notes

Kristy Moneysmith wore a black strapless gown with a nude center and a slit.

Brandi Herceg chose a blue strapless gown with a sweetheart next and center slit.

Alyssa Hanson chose a popular design with a white top, side cut outs, and a black beaded bottom.

Andrea stayed with her gown from last year (I was hoping she would.) It’s a gorgeous red gown with a side slit and beaded parts hanging over the arm. She looked gorgeous.

Jillian Dansko stuck with her gorgeous animal print strapless gown. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Another beautiful gown.

Nanciann Strosnider opted for a liquid beaded gown with a low front. It was reddish pink.

Jenna Wilson kept her very beautiful white strapless gown I believe worn at her local.

Emily Cousino chose an animal print grown with some green or blue infused through it.

Good news!

I got home just in time for the Miss Ohio contestant intros! I'll be blogging live again!

Miss Ohio tonight

Hey all! Miss Ohio prelims will be on again tonight. I have a pageant appointment out of town; I hope to be back in Lynchburg to at least catch the last half of the preliminaries. I really want to see Megan's tap dance tonight. There's also a contestant tap dancing to 'Dancin' Fool', which I used for locals but couldn't get clearance rights for use in Miss Virginia (hence my talent song switch).

Anyways, I will at least report results later on! I'll of course be watching here on Friday and Saturday.

On a side note, I am finally getting my voice back! I don't feel 100% like Laura yet, but I'm getting there!

Miss Ohio Night one- Some Evening Gown Photos

Amy Allen
Erica Gelhaus

Kasey Wilson

Kristen Haas

Megan Wombacker
These are from the Mansfield News Journal

Pictures-Miss Ohio Night One Winners

Miss Greater Cleveland, Andrea Andryscik, during Swimsuit

Miss Clayland, Karissa Martin, in talent

Veteran Andrea Andryscik, who I believe competed 31 times before winning her first local in 2006, celebrating years of hard work.

Last year's second runner up, Karissa Martin, taking the stage to celebrate her talent win.

Great job, ladies! These awards were well-deserved!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Miss Ohio Prelim Winners

Andrea won swimsuit!! Go girl, you worked for that!

Karissa Martin took talent.

Way to call this one, Abby!

Miss Ohio Night One: Onstage Question

I'm only blogging about this one because I was curious to see if anyone stepped outside the box a little bit for interview suits. I didn't see anything too wild.

Onstage questions:

Erica Gelhaus wore a white standard interview suit.

Kristen Haas also wore a standard interview suit in a maroon color.

Chrstie Yousseff, also a standard interview suit in a shiny fuschia.

Victoria Miller also wore a standard interview suit in yellow.

Heather Waterman also wore a standard suit in a cream color.

Amy Allen wore a white suit with black buttons and a black/white band around the center. Good job, Amy!

Becky Minger wore a standard white/light yellow suit

Megan wore her Anne Klein suit! Go Girl, and I thought it looked good J

Shannon O’Neill wore a standard fuschia suit.

Kasey Wilson wore a muted fuschia color suit.

Miss Ohio night one: Swimsuit


Kristy Moneysmith- great swimsuit, great song choice, and way to work the new Miss America walk!

Brandi Herceg chose a pink one piece

Alyssa Hanson wore a zebra two piece.

Andrea worked it as expected in her beautiful Jayme Shaw!

Jillian also looked stunning in her yellow two piece.

Nanciann Strosnider looked great in a gold two piece!

Jenna Wilson also looked gorgeous in a gold two piece.

I might have missed somebody!

Miss Ohio Night One: Talent

Miss Ohio Night One, Part Two


Krystle Formosa, Think of Me, Phantom of the Opera

I’ve known Krystle for some time and was thrilled to hear that she had won a local during Ohio Sweeps weekend. She has a beautiful voice and did great J

Sophia Davis, Move from Dreamgirls, Jazz Dance

Sophia is an outstanding dancer and so energetic. It’s so much fun to watch her.

Courtney Kania, Harp “Sabre Dance”

This marks a year when two harpists will take the Miss Ohio stage. Courtney joins Christie Yousseff, Miss Mansfield, who is also a talented harpist. The webcast froze near the end of her performance but it was beautiful.

Katie Wolford, “Gimme Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie

This is one of my favorite songs. I wish I could sing because I’d like to perform a song just like this! Her voice was great for this song!

Heather Wells, jazz dance to “Baby, I’m a star”

What an energetic dance, Heather!

Katie Camp, tap dancing “Street Sounds”

This one I was excited for, because I heard she was a great tap dancer. And she didn’t let me down! The music was a little distracting because it sounded like a cowbell was in the background and it was a little loud over her tap sounds, but I could tell she’s really talented!

Jessica Barrett, singing “I’m a star”

She has a very Broadway voice, and if I remember correctly, she sang “Popular” last year and I loved it! This was such a good song for her.

Karissa Martin, singing “The Girl in 14G”

Wow, as Abby and I thought, this was a good song for her. It mixed broadway style with some opera! She will win talent, I think.

Miss Ohio night one: Evening Gowns

More notes…

They just finished introducing the judges, and now I’m hoping it’s time to get on to competition. Like I said before, everyone looked stunning in their cocktail dresses on stage. Lots of bright colors.

The show is being emceed by Mark Schnitke, who I believe also did it last year, and Roberta Camp, Miss Ohio 2007.

The only judge I caught was Miss Rhode Island 1966.


Erica Gelhaus looked drop dead gorgeous in a white gown with side cutouts.

Kristen Haas chose a gown with a beaded top and fuschia botton. The bottom looked silk or velvet.

Christie Yousseff had an interesting choice in a red gown with the front only being long enough for a cocktail dress. The sides had full length and a rhinestone buckle was at the center. I've never seen an evening gown like this. This really wasn't my favorite.

Victoria Miller chose a halter white gown.

Heather Waterman had an animal print halter gown.

Amy Allen- you go girl! Her gorgeous one shoulder gown sparkled even on the web! I couldn’t tell quite what color it was but it looked black or green. Amy, you looked so elegant!

Becky Minger chose a strapless blue gown with a design on it. It looked very familiar- is it possible she wore this last year?

Megan Wombacker chose a gown with a dark purple bottom, beaded top, and keyhole center. Looking good, Megan!

Shannon O’Neill wore a pretty strapless beaded white and wilver gown with a mermaid style bottom.

Kasey Wilson was a vision in a gold number that reminded me somewhat of Miss USA’s gown worn for Miss USA.

Right after evening gown, a former Miss Ohio came out to perform a song. I think it was Amanda Beagle, but I could be wrong on this one! She looked familiar, but the screen didn’t name her. I just confirmed that it was her, because her husband came out to sing on stage with her. They are a talented pair!

Miss Ohio Kicks Off

First of all, a big thanks to whoever pulls together the webcasting in Ohio. It's great to be able to watch from afar and cheer on some really wonderful girls! Last year I stayed up late each night to watch the Ohio webcasts from England, and I really enjoyed it, even though the rest of my house was sleeping!

Unfortunately, right now I can't get the link to work. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'll check in if I am able to get it to work.

I finally got my link to work, and I'll check in once things get going!

Notes from Miss Ohio

It’s so cool to get to see all the ladies out there. Right now entertainment is going on. There’s a young woman singing “I’ve got rhythm” with some dancers in the background. Out of nowhere a man in a t-shirt, jeans, and bling appeared singing rap. It was a little unexpected. I’m not sure I completely understood it. It was apparently a twist on a really classic song.

The ladies just walked out on stage! I got goosebumps seeing them all! That’s going to be me next week! They look great in cocktail dresses, and of course I’m cheering for a number of different girls!

Megan, you looked FABULOUS in your cocktail dress. Gorgeous color.

Miss Ohio Live Blog

I have just purchased the $5 rights to watch Miss Ohio online tonight. I'm really excited to see the different ladies, and assuming I don't feel too bad, I will try to blog live whenever they go to breaks. I'll post the preliminary winner info here as soon as I get it! I'm particularly excited to see Miss Portsmouth, Katie Camp, do her tap dance tonight. I've heard she's great :)

More later!

Ohio Prelims

Info is on Abby's blog regarding the lineup tonight. I'd have to say I agree with her on many of her choices. I think Andrea Andryscik, an amazing young woman, will take the swimsuit award tonight! She's a hard worker and would make such an excellent Miss Ohio! This year was her 6th year trying to win Miss Greater Cleveland and she nailed it. She's a force to be reckoned with! I'm excited to see all the evening gowns and hear the talents!

Miss Ohio begins TONIGHT!

I'm so excited to report that the Miss Ohio preliminaries begin tonight. It's supposed to be webcast, although I don't see the link yet.

If I get the link, I'll be watching tonight excitedly! I'll also report the prelim winners.

Good luck to fellow bloggers Megan and Amy! You'll do beautifully!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

THANKS to my pageant network

There are so many people that I need to thank in the upcoming days.

I've been blessed with an amazing network of people, some who have helped tirelessly or in amazing ways, and some who wish to remain anonymous but have become friends and cherished "helpers".

I am so incredibly grateful to you all, especially those of you stepping up when I am sick!

Being sick...

It's so heartbreaking to be sick a week before Miss Virginia. I think it was really smart on my and my director's part to have worked so hard before this! Now we are just packing and putting together final details. I think we have almost everything we need except for the last minute running out (pantyhose, my own makeup, etc).

Yesterday we started putting everything together and I have to say again that I am truly excited about my wardrobe and my chance to compete for Miss Virginia. Yesterday I was really sick beginning in the morning and thanks to some special "pageant friends" was able to go see a doctor, even on a Saturday. This past year, and especially since Miss Commonwealth, I have truly felt supported by so many people not just on my pageant journey, but whenever I needed it. There are so many people who have chipped in to help me, encourage me, or make this somewhat stressful time a little bit easier.

I was relieved to hear that I do not have strep throat, although I do have laryngitis. I have never had this before, but I have to admit my throat has never hurt so much. As I type, I have lost my voice beyond whispering. I am taking doctor's orders extremely seriously. He told me I should feel better within a week and I joked with him that I'd give him six days to make it better so that I was great for Miss Virginia! He said it was a good thing I was a dancer and not a singer, but I assured him that whispering through my interview was not going to result in a high score! So fingers crossed and prayers sent that this sickness gets better in a few days. I'm getting a lot of sleep and limiting how often I need to talk.

Ever since I was little, I always examined every difficult situation and tried to pump myself up by 1) coming up with one or two positives about the situation and 2) thinking of one way it could be worse. So, all the peace and quiet and lack of phone calls allows me to truly focus my mind on Miss Virginia. And at least I don't have strep or meningitis!

I know that if I have the determination to pull off this in just two months, once I arrive at Miss Virginia it's just the icing on the cake. I think it will be so much fun and the payoff for almost a year of hard work. My director seems more nervous than I do! He keeps checking in to see how my packing is going (fine). We are finally down to only buying last minute things! I'm so thrilled about my swimsuits, too. They fit well and I really like the colors.

Keeping the positive thoughts rolling all the way through Miss Virginia!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I have laryngitis. It was a long day at the doctor and I really don't feel like myself, but I wanted to pass along the bad news.

I have my fingers crossed that I will be okay by Miss Virginia.

Friday, June 13, 2008

asking for prayers...

Please pray for me. The last few days I haven't felt quite myself, but today it escalated into something even worse. I am losing my voice, afflicted by a pounding headache, and can't keep any food down. This seems the most inopportune time to be sick, especially since I am religious about Lysol/hand washing and taking my vitamins. I just hope that this will all be gone by Sunday, June 22, so I can check into Miss Virginia fully healthy.

I'm not sure how I got sick, but I have been pushing myself really hard lately and perhaps was system was just a little perceptible to illness. I'll be spending this Friday night in bed trying to get back to normal.

Fingers crossed that I feel better soon!

Good news!

The Miss Virginia People's Choice voting has begun!

Please vote for me, Laura Pennington-Miss Commonwealth!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A fundraiser

Pleased to announce....
I know it's tiny, so see a full version at:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A night for newbies part 2

Miss Kansas
Miss South Dakota

I woke up this morning to find out that rookies also took the Miss Kansas and Miss South Dakota titles! Wow!

19 year old Emily Deaver, Miss Augusta, took the Miss Kansas title last night. Earlier in the week, she won talent, evening gown, and swimsuit!

Alexandra Hoffman, a former USA titleholder, won Miss South Dakota after winning talent and swimsuit preliminaries earlier in the week.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A night for newbies

Miss Alabama, Amanda Tapley

Miss Oklahoma, Kelsey Cartwright
While I chatted online with a friend, I was following to see the results of the state pageants tonight. Two rookies (at least as far as I can tell) won two powerhouse states, Alabama and Oklahoma. Oklahoma City University student Kelsey Cartwright took Oklahoma (I almost went to OCU-great school with lots of pageant background!) She held the title of Miss Keystone Lake and it seems like this was her first time at the state level.

Unconfirmed results for Alabama have Amanda Tapley as the winner. I just checked the Miss AL website and Amanda is indeed the winner!

Way to go, ladies!
Many people know, especially those who have been involved in pageants before, that pageants can be expensive. The payback, however, are skills, memories, and friendships that last a lifetime, among other things.

I have hesitated to post about the financial stress that pageants can cause because it seems to personal.

I won my pageant on April 4, 2008. I knew winning the pageant that it would be a challenge to come up with everything that Miss Virginia requires as far as paperwork in addition to acquiring all the outfits in such a short period of time. Somehow, we have managed to accomplish a great deal while maintaining really good attitudes about any setbacks. Finding evening gowns long enough for someone almost six feet tall is a nightmare, and somehow we managed to do it, thanks to my patient directors and two wonderful women who helped us.

Since April 4, money has flown out the window. In addition to preparing for Miss Virginia, I work two jobs- one on campus and one off campus. I work between 60-80 hours a week in a regular week. If I have a lot of Miss Virginia appointments that week, sometimes I work a little less. For the most part, however, I work all the time. My downtime is devoted to dance lessons, personal trainer sessions, practicing for interview, and exercise on my own time. Every spare second has been devoted to Miss Virginia- and I love that. I have the determination to make the most of the Miss Commonwealth title, and I have taken that personal challenge on from the moment I won that crown.

That said, those who know my closely know my financial situation. I come from a family of extremely modest means. My mother and I frequently work multiple jobs to make ends meet. I funded my college education on my own, via grants and numerous scholarships that always seemed to come at just the right time. I worked two jobs through all college every single year and balanced that with a full course load every semester. In short, I worked hard. One of the first terms I would use to describe myself would be "hard worker". I will give my all to something if I really put my mind to it.

It is so hard to prepare for the Miss Virginia pageant without the help of sponsors. For those who have given and helped me achieve this accomplishment of competing on that stage in Roanoke in two weeks, I thank you.

This last week has been particularly challenging because we are nearing the end. It seems as though the expenses are rolling in much more quickly than my paychecks are, and I would appreciate any help from people willing to donate towards my cause. All my blog readers know that this has been a dream of mine for a very long time, and something that I worked very hard for over the course of this last year. If there is anything I know something about, it's perseverance.

As we near my arrival date in Roanoke, I wanted to publicly put it out there that I could use your help. Whatever you have to give would be welcomed. I feel so confident about all my clothing choices and myself, and all I need at this point is that final financial push to get me there. Any help that any of you can provide would be such a wonderful gift.

If you are interested in helping me or know of someone else, please email me:

Thanks to all of my sponsors so far, I could not have done this without you!


There isn't too much to report on, because I'm spending all of my free time getting ready to arrive at Miss Virginia in just two short weeks! I'm enjoying getting ready for that and we have certainly entered 'crunch time'. I'm going to be so excited to arrive there because I have never worked this hard in such a short period of time. What myself and my directors have managed to pull off since April 4, 2008, is a major accomplishment. During the interviews at Miss Commonwealth, I spoke about my ability to take a major task and run with it. My determination is what pushes me to keep going to do my best, and I know that I will enjoy Miss Virginia week because of all the hard work I have put into it.

I intend to write a detailed post (at least one!) before heading off to Miss Virginia. I am so grateful for the support I have received from friends around the county (and the world!) as I head out on this crazy adventure. I'm so blessed to be working towards two of my major goals at the same time- going to graduate school and competing for Miss Virginia. I have such great determination and I know that however the cards fall in Roanoke in three weeks, I will go on to whatever is next with excitement and pride.

My faith in myself has really been renewed since winning Miss Commonwealth and graduating college. If you had asked me four years ago as a high school graduate whether I ever thought I could afford college, I would have told you "no". I was so blessed to receive over a dozen outside scholarships in addition to scholarships from RMWC that made my education possible. I know that I can relate to so many people who are questioning reaching for their dreams, because I questioned that, too. But here I stand a graduate of a wonderful private college, about to head for my masters. Yesterday I even received a phone call from an Assistant Dean at another university and she encouraged me to consider this school for my PHD, even though that is two years away!

I'm so proud of the amazing opportunities I have been given and I know that I am making the most of them!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Proud to be an RMWC Alum

A huge thank you to Elizabeth, an outstanding R-MWC alum who has given me time, help with my senior paper, flowers, and donations towards my fundraising for Children's Miracle Network. With your help, I have reached my goal of raising $650 for CMN this year!

You and your family are truly a treasure and I am so thankful for all your support throughout this past year. You exemplify the term "Randolph Macon Woman."

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm updating!

It has been really busy lately, but I thought I'd check in and update.

All of my time is either spent working or preparing for Miss Virginia. I really wouldn't have it any other way. As we get closer to that week in Roanoke, I feel a mix of excitement and nerves. This is the first time I'm competing at a state pageant like this. I am, however, really excited about all of my competition wear. We are almost finished shopping, and I think this is a good thing! Both myself and my directors are a little worn down from the constant clothes-seeking.

Everything looks really sharp though and flatters my personal style. We lucked out working with some great people to help us find gowns, and we actually located all the gowns within two weekends! It seemed like whenever I was ready to give up looking for something in particular, it would jump out at me! That happened with the competition gown and my interview suit.

I've been really busy meeting with all the people who are helping me be at my "most prepared" for Miss Virginia. I think I'm really going to enjoy the week, and I'm really excited about my Miss Virginia roommate, Miss Virginia Beach Shannon Oliver, because she seems like SUCH a sweet girl and I think we will get along really well and enjoy the week together.

This whole experience has been such a blessing because I really feel like I have some really great people behind me. I have felt so grateful because every time I hit an obstacle someone has stepped forward and been really helpful or offered up something to make the situation a little better.

This last weekend was alumnae reunion on campus. It was really neat to meet some alums from the Class of 1958 as well as all years. They had some really neat events on campus and I really enjoyed hearing two comedians that graduated from here. I also got to spend the weekend at the beach enjoying myself. I wont get a day off again until the week after Miss Virginia, and I think that's just the right timing- I'm going to need a break!

I want to thank everyone for the supportive emails, letters, and phone calls over the last few weeks. It really makes this experience that much more special.

Keep an eye out soon for my new website!