Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good press/bad press?

I saw this article through my Google News alert this morning and was disturbed to find that instead of focusing on Leigh-Taylor's life goals, plans as Miss New York, or the Miss America pageant (these items only get a brief mention) this reporter chose to consider whether or not she has had plastic surgery. She repeatedly told the reporter that no, she hadn't. Even if she had, someone please tell me how this affects her ability to complete the duties of Miss New York and represent the state at the Miss America pageant?

This reporter opens their story with "They're spectacular, and they're real". How trashy! Why not ask Leigh-Taylor about her platform, how her experience in pageants has changed her life, or what she hopes to gain from her year as Miss New York?
From the Brooklyn paper

She’s Miss New York for ‘real’

The Brooklyn Paper

In an exclusive interview with The Brooklyn Paper, Leigh-Taylor Smith — the former Miss Brooklyn who will represent us in the Miss America pageant in January — silenced whispers about the authenticity of her most recognizable assets.

“I’ve never had cosmetic surgery,” she said. “I’m comfortable with myself the way I am.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with it, she added. “If it makes a woman — or a man — feel more comfortable with themselves, they should go ahead,” Smith said. “But I’ve never had it.”

Despite getting those accusations off her chest, the 22-year-old brunette bombshell did not fully appease skeptics.

“They too perfect,” said Peter Naas of Queens after seeing last week’s front page of The Brooklyn Paper, a collector’s edition that featured Smith in a two-piece bikini. “If she told me she could fly, I would believe her [more].”

Fellow observer Paul Walker also prefered to believe his own eyes rather than Smith’s claim.

“I’d say they’re fake,” he said.

It’s not the first time Smith has come under scrutiny for not being a real New Yorker.

The Virginia-bred vixen first took flak in February after she won the Miss Brooklyn tiara despite living in (say it ain’t so!) Manhattan.

At the time, Smith said she had strong ties to Brooklyn because she belongs to the Brooklyn Tabernacle, a Downtown church.

But now, she has a broader take on the subject.

“I’m representing a state that is certainly known as a melting pot, and I’m a part of that too,” she said.

And what could be more “New York” than coming to the city after college from another part of the country?

“She’s here living her dream to become an interior designer, and she’s here living her dream to be Miss America,” said Kimberly Thomas, executive director of the Miss Brooklyn pageant.“Isn’t that what New York is all about — moving here for greater opportunity?”

Now that Smith has put the controversies behind her, she promises that her tenure as Miss New York will be scandal-free.

“It’s about leading a respectable life,” said Smith. “You guys don’t have to worry about me.”

Smith — a University of Virginia alum who has twice volunteered in South Africa as an abstinence educator — is hoping to be crowned Miss America on a platform that calls for mandatory volunteerism for high school students.

Before the Las Vegas contest, Smith will participate in an eight-episode reality show with the 51 other Miss America contestants.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Political News: Obama/Kaine versus McCain?

There's been a lot of buzz recently about vice presidential candidates. The one getting the most buzz is Obama, who is very popular in the media and among Democrats in the U.S.

On the "shortlist" according to the AP, is Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. There are mixed feelings about how Kaine would do and whether he would be helpful to the Obama campaign, which has been going full speed ahead since the primaries.

This all-important presidential race comes at a time when American are sick of the international policies and just plain worn-out from a slumping economy, rising gas and food prices, and moving to rentals as a result of the foreclosure crisis. No wonder Obama's focus on the word "change" seems to influence so many Americans.

So, who is Kaine, and what are the pros/cons?

Tim Kaine is a 50 year old governor of Virginia chosen after serving as Lt. Governor and Mayor of Richmond. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics and then pursued a law career, serving for 17 years.

(I personally am drawn to him because of his efforts to bring Virginia in line with the Violence Against Women Act).

The pros:

Kaine is governor of Virginia, a battleground state in this upcoming election. His location is also important because although many southerners might argue Virginia's true "southernhood" it is considered the south. Balancing the ticket is important- Obama's midwest background calls for a VP candidate from another region that might be more difficult for Democrats to win. Hence, John Edwards connection to North Carolina.

Kaine looks a little older than Obama. While many are remarking that Obama seems "too young" (and concurrently, that McCain is "too old") it would be helpful to balance the ticket. We've had plenty of "old, white men" in politics here in America-perhaps that familiar image would soothe voters who are unsure about Obama.

Obama says he is looking for:
"I'm going to want somebody with independence — who's willing to tell me where he thinks, or she thinks, I'm wrong," he said. "And I'm going to want somebody who shares a vision of the country: where we need to go — that we've got to fundamentally change not only our policies, but how politics work, how business is done in Washington."

Kaine's location just underneath Washington might help, as well as some of his forward thinking ideas as governor.
News sources also report that Kaine is lucky enough to reach out to four categories of key voters:" Kaine could serve as ambassador, his proponents say, to four key groups: Virginians, Catholics, working-class white voters and Hispanics"

(Isn't it a little ridiculous how quickly everyone gets labeled during an election year?)

Now, for the cons:

Kaine has no foreign policy experience.
He also doesn't have a lot of experience with how business gets done in Washington. My personal feelings are that this could be a good thing: is anyone impressed with how the country's been run recently? I'm not sure I'd want to vote for someone trenched in Washington politics!

Also on the shortlist for potential VP candidates are all Senators.
From Indiana, Evan Bayh. The downside? If he is on the list and Obama wins, a Republican governor could replace Bayh in the Senate and throw off the Republican/Democrat balance in the Senate.

From Delaware, Joe Biden. As many already know, I am a HUGE Joe Biden fan. I knew he would never get the nod for the presidential nomination, but this man has experience, charisma,and intelligence. Barack, please choose Biden! Biden has years of foreign policy experience and work in the Senate reaching across the aisle. He could balance out the ticket. The downside is that Biden is from the New England region-not an area that Democrats generally struggle to win. (not to mention that Biden is the creator of the very Violence Against Women Act that Kaine supports!)

From New York, Hillary Clinton The downside? Don't get me started! I love Hillary Clinton but this is John McCain's wildest dream: an Obama/Clinton ticket.

We'll have to wait and see what happens, but it's an exciting time in politics!

In 2006, I had the opportunity to meet both Barack and Joe at a political event in Ohio. Both were captivating-anyone who has heard Barack speak can understand why he is well liked. One of my duties was to follow around Barack taking pictures (at that time, his security wasn't nearly as close knit as it is now) and I had the chance to hear him speak to people. He has a way of connecting with people instantly that is so important in both politics and pageants. He has a very "down home" view but he is also very good at energizing a crowd. Biden, of course, has a great sense of humor. He is extremely intelligent but brought laughs to the initial presidential candidate debates. He has a lot of experience in the Senate and is well liked.

Miss Virginia News

Wimmer wins crown
The FCHS senior won $1,700 in scholarships

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nicole Wimmer of Union Hall was crowned Miss Greater Franklin County 2009 Sunday evening, while Lindsay Bowman was crowned Miss Danville-Pittsylvania County at a dual pageant at Franklin County High School.

Wimmer is a senior at Franklin County High School and the daughter of Wendell and Kim Wimmer. Wimmer won $1,700 in cash scholarships, according to pageant director J.T. Foley. Wimmer also won the preliminary talent award and the preliminary swimsuit award, he added. Bowman is a graduate of Averett University and works as a legislative assistant to Del. Charles Poindexter. She is the daughter of Kenneth and Brenda Bowman of Dry Fork. Bowman received $700 in scholarships, Foley said. She was also named the preliminary interview award winner. The first runner-up was Amanda Jones of Danville, a senior at Virginia Tech. She won $600 in cash scholarships. The second runner-up was Katelyn Dockery of Chatham, a senior at Chatham High School. She won $400 in cash scholarships. The third runner-up was Stacey Moore of Martinsville, a graduate student at Radford University. She won $300 in cash scholarships. Crystal West of Hurt was named Miss Congeniality. She won $250 in cash scholarships. The pageant, sponsored by the Miss Greater Franklin County Scholarship Pageant Committee, awarded $5,000 in cash scholarships at the annual preliminary to the Miss Virginia and Miss America pageants. Wimmer will compete for the title of Miss Virginia 2009 at the state pageant next June in Roanoke.

This article is from the Franklin News Post

Monday, July 28, 2008

Our newest titleholders!

Congrats to the first titleholders leading to Miss Virginia 2009!

Miss Greater Franklin County, Nicole Wimmer

Miss Danville-Pittsylvania County, Lindsay Bowman

(Photo from the wonderful Julius Tolentino)

This weekend brings the second pageant, Miss Central Virginia! I'll be attending to cheer on some good friends and I'm looking forward to watching a pageant!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Published: July 27, 2008

Tara Wheeler: Ice hockey goalie, flight commander… and possibly Miss America?

Wheeler, 24, of Woodbridge won the title of Miss Virginia in June. Now she's living in Roanoke, where she's serving her yearlong term (the organization sets her up with an apartment).

In January, she'll compete for the title of Miss America.

Her platform, or issue she cares about and uses her title to promote, is "Breaking Stereotypes, Building Leaders," inspired by her own experiences.

"I just think it's really important not to put people in boxes and not to judge a book by its cover," Wheeler said. "I had a lot pf people telling me that girls couldn't play [ice hockey] and I made it to the Olympic team tryouts."

She tried out in 2001, but didn't make the team.

Wheeler graduated from Gar-Field Senior High School in 2002 and from Penn State in 2006. She was a starting goalie for the women's ice hockey team (she's been playing since she was a kid) and was an Air Force ROTC cadet mentor and flight commander.

At Penn State she also founded a mentoring organization called "Positive Role Models Building Powerful Women." She said she was invited to represent that organization at the United Nations for the Redlight Children Campaign, against child sexploitation.

She received $27,000 for her education from the Air Force, but it still wasn't enough to finance out of state tuition. She poked around on the Web and discovered scholarship opportunities with Miss America.

"Miss America is the largest provider of scholarships to women in the world, which is some-thing a lot of people don't know," Wheeler said. "I've earned $23,000 through Miss America for my education."

Wheeler began competing three years ago, winning Miss Pittsburgh in 2006, and competing in typical pageant categories, such as swimsuit, evening gown, talent, questions and community service. Her dress wasn't anything super-fancy.

"I won my first pageant in my old homecoming dress," Wheeler said.

She didn't win Miss Pennsylvania, but back in Virginia, after college, she won Miss Blue Ridge Mountains and made it to the top 10 for Miss Virginia.

In December she won Miss Arlington, in June she won Miss Virginia.

She was working two jobs when she won, as a residential counselor at Joe Gibbs' "Youth for Tomorrow" group home and as a motivational speaker for's "Making it Count" program. After winning, she had to give her two week's notice and move to Roanoke.

"It's a full-time job, getting out into the community and promoting the organiza-tion," Wheeler said.

(It's different than many full time jobs in one respect: she covers her own health insurance).

As Miss Virginia she's the spokesperson for the Children's Miracle Network in Virginia, a non-profit dedicated to raising money for children's hospitals across America. She also makes appearances at schools throughout the Commonwealth.

"We're certainly proud of her," said her mother, Alicia Wheeler.

In January, Tara will be in Las Vegas, competing against women from all over the country for the title of Miss America, a pageant she never really watched as a kid.

"I think I'm more excited," Wheeler said. "I'm going into it believ-ing I could be Miss America… I can't take any second of it for granted."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New links and updates

You can find a few new contestant blogs on the side of the page. If you have any links you find interesting relating to pageants, please pass them along! Political updates are also on the way (it takes me more time to do my researching for political posts, so they are slower coming!)

One of my new links is the current blog for Miss Connecticut 2008. I located it when I was doing researching on news articles about the new Miss New York. Feel free to visit the link here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Miss Greater Franklin County/Danville/Pittsylvania County Pageant

You can read the article about the upcoming pageants here; below are the contestants for the pageants.

Good luck, ladies!

Crystal West, 18, a freshman at Central Virginia Community College, daughter of Diane and Sammie West of Hurt. Her talent will be a modern dance.

Janella Barbour, 18, a freshman at Patrick Henry Community College, daughter of Annette Barbour of Martinsville. She will sing.

Kristen Myrick, 19, a sophomore at Patrick Henry Community College, daughter of Phyllis and Randy Myrick of Danville. She will present a tap dance for talent.

Lindsay Bowman, 22, a graduate of Averett University, daughter of Brenda and Kenneth Bowman of Danville. She will sing for her talent.

Brittany Witcher, 19, a sophomore at Virginia State University, daughter of Pam and Elvis Witcher of Rocky Mount. She will present a gymnastics routine for talent.

Sarah Crabtree, 19, a sophomore at Radford University, daughter of Rebecca and Mark Crabtree of Martinsville. She will present a tap dance for talent.

Katelyn Dockery, 17, a senior at Chatham High School, daughter of Larry and Robin Dockery of Chatham. She will sing for talent.

Amanda Jones, 21, a senior at Virginia Tech, daughter of Carol and Henry Jones of Danville. She will dance for talent.

Nicole Wimmer, 17, a senior at Franklin County High School, daughter of Kim and Wendell Wimmer of Glade Hill. She will present a gymnastics routine for talent.

LaWanda Weatherspoon, 23, a graduate of the University of Richmond, daughter of Yolanda Weatherspoon of Rocky Mount. She will sing for talent.

Stacy Moore, age 20, a graduate student at Radford University, daughter of Francis and David Moore of Martinsville. She will perform a marital arts sword form for talent.

I am DEFINITELY cheering on one of my favorite pageant women, LaWanda Weatherspoon. I had the pleasure of getting to know this young lady over the course of the past year, and I hope she is going to take a title this weekend! No one is more deserving!

It's that time again!

Thanks to everyone who helped me raise money for locals last year and Miss Virginia 2008! I'm going to begin my fundraising now for CMN so that I'm off to a good start when I am ready to compete! Please visit the link below and donate as much as you can to help me!

Two Miss Arlington's headed to Miss America!

Last year, North Carolina rejoiced as two NC natives, Hannah Kiefer and Jessica Jacobs, headed to Miss America with their respective titles of Miss Virginia and Miss North Carolina. This year, Virginians get to watch two Virginia girls compete for the Miss America title!

Both ladies served as Miss Arlington, and Leigh-Taylor Smith, the new Miss New York, actually crowned Miss VA Tara Wheeler as Miss Arlington last December.

Leigh-Taylor Smith was third runner up two years in a row at the Miss Virginia pageant, also winning the community service award last year. She now lives in New York and went after the Miss New York title after winning Miss Brooklyn.


Monday, July 21, 2008

A brief update

I've been extremely busy lately, and hence the lack of blogging! Since returning from Miss Virginia I have re-entered the "Real World", which means I'm back to working two full time jobs. That really monopolizes most of my time! I'm also getting ready to move, which is always stressful and involves a lot of planning. Luckily, I signed my new lease today and I'm getting ready to head to Blacksburg!

On that note, I'm very excited about going back to school. I truly enjoy being in school-learning, writing papers, doing research, and studying are all things that I actually enjoy doing. I can't wait to get back into a full campus atmosphere!

I'll be traveling to go watch Miss Central Virginia on August 2nd to cheer on some friends who are competing. I'll take pictures, too. It will be nice to watch a pageant for a change. I have to move that same weekend and next week so I didn't want to overbook myself, but it will be good to see old friends and those I haven't seen since Miss Virginia!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Commonwealth Games

I'm only 2/3 of the way through my incredibly busy travel-filled weekend, since tomorrow I have another stop! But I wanted to check in and post pictures from the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony held last Friday night in Roanoke. It was a good opportunity to be out promoting MAO and MVO and of course, to see Tara! There were a lot of interesting acts from fire batons to BMX bike demonstrations!

A huge thank you to Marla Baker for the opportunity!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Coventry Commonwealth Games
Friday, July 18
Doors open at 6:30, begins at 8:00 PM
Roanoke Civic Center

Come meet Miss Virginia 2008, Tara Wheeler
Miss Central Virginia Shannon Beam
Miss Commonwealth Laura Pennington

(If you are reading this and are another titleholder participating, please let me know and I'll update!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

My big thank yous

I completed all my major thank you notes some time ago, but wanted to shout out a few more thank yous to people who made it possible for me to attend Miss Virginia! You all are wonderful and thanks for your constant support!


The Pryor Family

Dance Creations, Wyndhurst, VA

Classika Sport and Fitness Training, Lynchburg VA

College community members, for your support, donations, and votes!

Alums of RMWC for your continued support of all my endeavors!

the West Summer residents for not having any fires or major emergencies while I was gone!


Jimmy and Chris, my directors

(and my many, many, anonymous helpers!)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Does lightning strike twice?

I am watching the Miss Universe pageant while getting ready for work tomorrow, and I was stunned to watch Miss USA fall for the second year in a row! It was bizarre, because they called her named twice and she seemed to be hurrying to catch up!

People are already claiming sabotage! Crystle did get back up and clapped for herself and kept on going, but she was visibly upset.

ABC WSET Talks to Whitney and Laura!

I cannot seem to embed the video from the local news channel with any success, since I keep getting error messages, so I'm going to provide a link. If anyone is aware of how to embed a non-you tube video, please leave me a comment. Below is a link to the brief news coverage of the Hill City/Commonwealth pageant.

Fundraiser pageant pictures!

Yesterday Whitney Law and I had the opportunity to emcee and crown at the Spirit of Miss Hill City/Commonwealth pageants. I got to talk to a lot of people and younger girls (one of my favorite aspects of pageantry is meeting other people!) and it was a lot of fun. I was really grateful for all the people that participated in this pageant because it raises money for two really wonderful locals.

I am definitely a crowning expert by now! I don't know how many girls ended up winning crowns, but you can see in the picture that I crowned everyone there except for Whitney! It went really quickly and it was great to get to see some new people. I also got interviewed by Lynchburg WSET (I have now interacted with this reporter three times- he came to speak to the American Culture Program here at RMWC shortly before I graduated, then he covered our college graduation, then I met him again yesterday! He really is a local celebrity!)

A woman attending the pageant also invited me to make an appearance next Friday at the Commonwealth games in Roanoke with other titleholders carrying the American flag in the opening ceremony! How amazing is that? I'm really excited about it!

Also, a huge thanks to my co-director, Chris, who took my camera for the day and snapped all these shots!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I'd like to invite everyone to the James River Conference Center in Lynchburg this weekend for a fundraiser pageant for the Miss Hill City/Miss Commonwealth Pageants!

This Saturday, July 12th, registration for the pageant begins at 9 AM and it starts at 10:30. I found out today that Whitney Law (Miss Hill City) and I will be performing our talents. Admission is only $5.

Please come out to support these pageants who both have a wonderful set of directors!

See you this Saturday, July 12!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My post-pageant entry

How on earth can I share what I went through during the last week? I’m trying to split it up into different categories so that I can cover as much as possible. It was everything I thought it would be... except better. I was blown away by how much fun I had in one week!


Obviously I don’t how know Virginia did things in years past, but I’d have to say that I really loved having a roommate during the week. Of course, my entire life I’ve been blessed with great roommates. I spent the week with Shannon Oliver, Miss Virginia Beach, and I’m SO GLAD that I got the chance to know her. I really loved spending the week with her and we got along wonderfully. It was so much fun coming back to the room after a long day of rehearsal and having someone to laugh with!


Obviously my most dreaded aspect of competition. Since winning Miss Commonwealth, I went on a strict diet and worked with a trainer several days a week in addition to my own exercise regimen. I made great strides- I went from being able to do zero pull ups to doing three. I lost percentage in my body fat, which was small to begin with. And I lost a total of nine pounds leading up to Miss Virginia. But that didn’t make it any easier knowing that I was STILL one of the biggest girls at Miss Virginia. During my senior year of college, I felt as though I sacrificed a lot for pageants. Spending time with my friends, who have now graduated and moved other places. Spending time with my boyfriend, who leaves for a year-long deployment at the end of July. I gave that- and a social life- up because it was important to me to be on that Miss Virginia stage. And I wouldn’t go back and change any of that. That said, my priority while I was finishing college was just that- school. I was studying for the GRE, applying to six graduate schools, writing two senior research papers and an additional independent research assignment, and completing my 90-page American Culture Journal. Those were my priorities first because at the end of the day, I’m a student. I’m participating in this Miss America program because I believe in the job and power of titleholders, but also respect the great deal of scholarship money given out at every level. I physically could not devote any more time to working out during the year.

Maybe other girls have more time, or parents who can help support them in college. My family situation is different, and so in addition to a full course load, I worked a job on campus and one off campus- usually for a total of about 30 hours a week. Since the summer began, I work between 60-70 hours a week between my two jobs. I made this work because I didn’t’ have to focus on writing papers, and I’m proud of the progress I made. Certainly some people will always think I am “big”. I am almost six feet tall and currently 154 pounds. I have work to do, but I did an incredible amount in the short two and a half months between my local and Miss Virginia. I did the absolute best that I could in toning and losing weight in a healthy manner.

The worst part of my week was when we took the pictures for swimsuit. As soon as my roommate and I got downstairs, I was whisked away to do a TV interview- in my bathing suit. Knowing that the camera adds ten pounds, this was the most nerve-wracking part of my week. At least I got it out of the way on Monday!

I have to say that although I have work to do, this was the best I have felt about my body in years. Many wouldn’t understand, but I grew up in a home with a parent who constantly degraded the way you looked, your intelligence, etc. Although this has inspired me to work a great deal with my platform of domestic violence, for many years I had no self-esteem. Getting involved in pageantry has certainly helped me with that, although anyone close to me will tell you that I am my own worst critic. Walking on stage in my swimsuit on Friday and Saturday was nerve-wracking, but at the same time, full of pride, because I knew I had worked really hard. Perhaps some people can’t see that, but that’s okay with me. I know the improvements I have made. My body was never meant to be 100 pounds! Regardless of what anyone else thinks, I am grateful for the body I have. I lead a healthy, active life, and I’m proud of the changes I have made!

The cost:

Certainly, what we gain from pageantry is something you cannot measure in monetary terms. I learned more during Miss Virginia week than I did all year. I am an observant person, someone who likes to take in all that is going on around me. I felt like I finally adjusted to the stage on the final day of rehearsal, and I feel armed to go back next year with a lot more understanding under my belt. I feel as though I learned so much. Towards the end, I was getting frustrated that we just couldn’t find a red cocktail dress that flattered me. I know that the one I wore looked cheap in comparison to other contestants, and it wasn’t very flattering on me, but that’s just one of the many lessons I learned :make sure every aspect of your wardrobe is perfect.

My directors were absolutely outstanding. Their help, combined with my mother, the Pryors, and many anonymous donors, made this experience possible. I simply could not have afforded it on my own. The amount of clothing that I had to acquire in two short months was nearly overwhelming, and the fact that we did it at all was amazing. We picked up the last round from the seamstress on the day before I left for Roanoke, if that tells you anything. I also owe great thanks to the seamstresses who frequently turned my clothing around in one or two days, who spent hours searching for just the right rhinestone buttons or sequins, and the patience they gave to me when we had to keep bringing things in as I lost weight.

And please, anyone who wants to help me find evening gowns, please ask my mother, gown shop owners, or my directors, what a nightmare it is! I tried on 71 gowns to get the ones that I needed. They simply don't make evening gowns long enough for someone as tall as I am, and I have heard the words "custom made" (which I can't afford) many times from people in dress shops!

Much thanks also goes to the women backstage, and Taylor Witte, who graciously gave me safety pins, after my pants fell down during talent rehearsal (yes, they were that loose).

There were so many little mishaps during the week, and I truly felt like Miss Virginia week was more preparation to be Miss Virginia than anything else. There was a lot of stress, hours and hours of rehearsal, and little problems you had to overcome very quickly. When I arrived in Roanoke, I was still sick with laryngitis and a sinus infection. But you push through it.

The girls:

The girls were truly the best part of the week. It amazes me sometimes that you can hear negative things from people in pageant land about other contestants. After this week, I’m truly convinced that these naysayers don’t have a clue. I doubt they’ve ever gone through a pageant like this, and I certainly doubt that they have spent any time with any of the girls they have earmarked “divas”, “untalented”, or “rude”. Obviously this is the most competitive pageant I have ever been involved in, but I have to say that this group of women was outstanding. I think all of us were blown away by the skill level in talent, the intelligence of the other girls, and the inner beauty that shined in each area of competition. I feel so blessed to have spent so much time with these wonderful women!

It seems there are a lot of armchair judges in this world. For every compliment you hear about your evening gown, swimsuit, talent, makeup, hair, etc, there are equally as many people who didn’t like it. What matters at the end of the day is how you feel in your clothing and presentation, and how those 7 people in the front of the audience felt about it. For all the people who have supported each girl all year long, thank you for understanding the hard work and time we put into this because we believe in the power of this organization.

There are people who sit in the audience and miss the traumas that happen backstage. One of the highlights of the week for me was watching Kristena Wright perform her talent. During her talent rehearsal on Friday, she hurt herself so badly that she was taken to a doctor. Since Commonwealth and Fairfax were alphabetical neighbors, I was frequently near Kristena in the lineup. It was obvious that her back was in a lot of pain. But you’d never know it once she hit that stage. She was limping around backstage and clearly in terrible pain- but as I watched from the wings it was obvious this girl is a performer. She stepped onto that stage and seemed to leave any pain backstage with the rest of us. She danced her heart out, and those kinds of moments are the times that your heart is absolutely touched. As soon as she came offstage she was in tremendous pain again, but to push through something like that to give a memorable performance like she did was amazing. And Kristena is one of many girls in the Miss Virginia organization who show strength of character and a belief that “the show must go on” no matter what hardships you experience on or off the stage. I would encourage people to take the time to really get to know these women, because they are incredible.

The Top 11:

I’m thinking about changing my lucky number to 11. I won my 11th local pageant, and by some twist of fate, was selected as part of the Top 11 at Miss Virginia last Saturday. Whether I made it there on my own or through internet voting for the “People’s Choice” doesn’t matter to me. My goal was to make it to the Miss Virginia stage, and I made it there. I was more than thrilled to get to compete on Saturday night. I think I performed better than the preliminaries because I was just so excited to have made it to that point! I told Ashley Smith backstage that I had packed all my competition gear (and I did). I only pulled out the swimsuit production number and laid it on my dressing table because I thought that would be all I’d need. I was completely fine with not making the top 11, because I knew I had done my best. I had done the best I could with the resources and the time I had-which wasn’t much. But I had learned the ropes. I had proven to myself that I could survive a weeklong state pageant. And that was enough for me.

I have doubts that I was able to garner a majority of 10,000 votes. 5,000 of those votes were cast during the week I was in Roanoke. My directors were busy, my mom was driving from Ohio to Virginia, and I was competing. Who was voting for me? Do I really know enough people to get all those votes? I don’t feel like I do, but if I was the People’s Choice, thanks to the people who went out there and voted!

The experience overall:

Overrall, I had a great time. I’m not sure if they’ll hold the Commonwealth pageant as late as it was this year next time around, but I think all of us who lived through it would be hesitant. It really isn’t enough time to get ready for Miss Virginia. I was jealous all week of the girls who had more than 10 weeks to prepare for Miss Virginia. It was hectic and very stressful at times, especially the week before when it seemed like everything was going wrong! I had such a good time during the week and if nothing else it confirmed for me that this is something I think I can do, something I would be passionate about, and something to strive for. I’m not going to give up- I think most of my readers knew that about me already!

I am most relived to be able to finally focus on my life outside pageantry for a little bit. I’m moving to go to graduate school during July, and I’ll also be saying goodbye to my boyfriend as he leaves for a yearlong deployment in Korea. This is my opportunity to focus on my life and enjoy things that I had to “leave behind” in the wake of the insanity leading up to Miss Virginia. I have wonderful things ahead of me, and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to be at Miss Virginia. Thank you for everyone who has supported me during the year, and taken the time to get to know me in and outside of the pageant arena. One of the best parts of this last year has been the many friendships I have gained as a result of pageantry! I truly poured my heart and soul into competing during the past year and one of the greatest rewards has been getting to know the other outstanding women in Virginia! You all make me laugh, give me hope when I’m being hard on myself, and inspire me to keep going!

I’ll be back… soon!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Miss Virginia news articles

Here are a few stories from the recent Miss Virginia coverage:

A brief update

Well, I am home from Miss Virginia, but won't reply until I really have time. I'm taking the week off to catch up on sleep and enjoy time with my family. I was so sick the week before Miss Virginia, and working 70 hours a week between my jobs, so I'm taking this week off of all of it!