I met with Miss Minnesota Board President, Gina Cavanagh, and her son, Patrick, at the Delta gate bright and early to cheer on Emily in Orlando! I must say, since becoming Miss Minnesota, my luggage on board has increased a little more than usual, but the gate crew was pretty awesome in helping me aboard! Thanks to Dream Duffel and Luggage Pros for the beautifully customized luggage fit for a queen! Once I arrived at the Rosen Convention Center, I met my roommate, Kristin Fish, Miss Kansas! She is such a delight to all who meet her and it was a joy to spend time with her throughout the week! I was able to catch a few rays with Gina before attending the first night of preliminaries. During the opening number, Emily carried in the Minnesota flag, waving the royal blue and gold seal proudly on high, and then entertained us with a fun little fact about our lovely state: “In my state, Spam comes in a can, not just your inbox!” She danced so gracefully and expressively to “It’s Quiet Uptown” by Kelly Clarkson for her talent selection. Afterwards, we saw her for the first time since her check-in at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (MAOTeen) and if you know anything about the two of us, it is hard to keep us apart! I’m so glad I was able to see her for a few minutes and meet some of her new friends!
I started off my morning with two of my favorite things: breakfast that includes bacon, and my Miss Minnesota head judge, Steve Phan! Sometimes, people come into your life for several reasons; to be a mere acquantaince for a short amount of time, to teach you a hard-earned lesson, or to uplift and support you 100% for life. Steve certainly falls into the latter. The love and positivity he has demonstrated to me has not only been heartwarming in good times, but has been my fuel and motivation during the more overwhelming times. In fact, not only does Steve text me with positive quotes and stories, but he checks in on me and keeps me focused and mindful during the preparations leading to Miss America, which is fun but daunting at times. In fact, we are even pen pals! I could not ask for a better friend and cheerleader from halfway across the country. I’m your biggest #1Phan, my friend! :)
I then went to the MAOTeen Trade Show, where I was able to meet with vendors from all across the nation specializing in various costumes, gowns, and wardrobe pieces for whatever your needs nay be. One of those people I was able to meet was Marie with MHR Designs, who has created gorgeous custom earrings for both my Miss Minnesota and now Miss America evening gowns! She is immensely talented and I am grateful for her partnership with LeChic Pageant and Prom Boutique, the official wardrobe sponsor of Miss Minnesota and Miss Minnesota’s Outstanding Teen.
For preliminary night #2, Emily competed in Evening Gown and On-Stage Question. She looked so radiant in her zircon teal gown provided by Le Chic Prom and Pageant Boutique and believe me when I say that all eyes were on her! She then took her on-stage question, which were all written by the contestants, and spoke articulately and at great length about teens with after school jobs and how time management has been helpful to her as she balances both work and play. She speaks with such poise! Again, visiting with her after the pageant was such a treat! I was also fortunate enough to meet our beautiful Miss America, Savvy Shields. Talk about someone who embodies “Minnesota Nice, even though she is from Arkansas! I am so excited to get to know her even more in Atlantic City.
Before the third night of preliminaries, the Miss America contestants were treated to a wonderful sit-down dinner hosted by Regalia and Florida State Executive Director, Mary Sullivan. We formally met both Josh Randle, CEO and President of the Miss America Foundation, and Sam Haskell IV, the Chairman Executive of the Board, along with Marc Angelli, Vice President of Field Operations, and Lynn Weidmann, Chair of the Board. Not only was a great evening of fellowship (and so many selfies), but we were also so graciously given $200 gift cards each to New York and Company! Sometimes, gratitude comes when you least expect it, and I am so thankful, as this will be used to finalize my wardrobe for Miss America next month! Thank you, New York and Company, for your kind generosity!
Emily competed in the final night of preliminary competition in Lifestyle and Fitness! Being that Emily is a trained dancer, she understands what it takes to be disciplined both on and off stage when it comes to staying fit and healthy. She rocked her fitness routine and had so much fun being in her element!
I then met a very special friend at visitation on Thursday! Abby, Emily’s 5 year old cousin, and I became instant “best buddies,” and for the rest of my time in Orlando and beyond, we have been inseparable. Abby is bound and determined to become Miss Minnesota someday, and I know she has the sparkle and sass to truly shine on stage! We spent some time eating pizza, hanging out near the pool, and of course, trying on the crown and sash! Abby even got to meet Miss America! This friendship is probably going to last for life….we are already looking into planning play dates back home in Minnesota! :)
I went with Gina, Pat, and Dan to the mall where I was able to use my awesome New York and Company card to pick up a few fun pieces for Miss America! Their clothing is trendy and fashion-forward; perfect for a young woman of today. Again, many thanks to New York and Company!
That evening was the Children’s Miracle Network Dance-A-Thon with the Miss and Teen State Titleholders, the Teens in Training and Princess Camp attendees, and CMN families from the Orlando area. This was such a sweet night of miracle making, as we listened to stories, spent time with incredible kids, and danced the night away! Within three hours, we were able to raise over $37,000 #ForTheKids and for local hospitals! Thank you to all who donated on behalf of Emily and myself for Team Minnesota! We are so appreciative of your support!
Saturday was a big day, as we started off our morning at Miss America Orientation. We were welcomed by the board and some kids from CMN who gifted us with beautiful bracelets from Alex&Ani! These adorable pieces of jewelry promote magic, healing, and innocence with proceeds benefitting CMN. We are so thankful for these special bracelets powered by positivity! Thanks Alex&Ani!
All 51 contestants and their state representatives from their respective boards had a meeting that encompassed all we needed to know about upcoming schedules, wardrobe, security detail, and the production information for the live broadcast on ABC, to finally hearing from Miss America herself, Savvy, on what her year has had in store for her. She had a great remark about how to mentally prepare about the upcoming competition, where she said, “If this is not your time, there is nothing that you did wrong and nothing to make that time happen. But if it is your time, then there is nothing you can do to stop it.” I have dreamed of stepping foot on the Miss America stage since I was young and influenced by several great Miss Minnesotas before me, and I cannot wait to represent not only my home state, but more importantly, the families and kids that are the true heroes and reason for service. No matter the outcome, it is an honor to be your Miss Minnesota and compete for this opportunity to serve our nation.
After orientation, we were treated to lunch and amazing swag bags courtesy of EcoTools, an official sponsor of the Miss America Organization. EcoTools and MAO have partnered together to promote #MyTrueBeauty and we are excited to play a role in that partnership! Did you know that EcoTools not only creates eco-friendly makeup tools, but they also promote women’s organizations involving healthy, wellness, and education! Thanks EcoTools for the gifts!
Next up was the event we were all waiting for…the finals night of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2018 competition! All of the young ladies who spent three days in competition did a phenomenal job and they represented their states beautifully. Emily not only did a great job on all three nights of competition, but she was chosen to compete in the Top 12 as People’s Choice! Lots of happy tears and cheering were coming from the Team Emily crew! Though she ultimately did not take the crown home, we are still so very proud of her and we were so glad we could celebrate with her at the after-party! What can I say…I’m a proud big sis. :)
Sunday was a travel day, as I flew home from Orlando back to the Twin Cities for more Miss America prep!
In my “off” days (days with no public crown/sash appearances), I spend my time preparing for Miss America in multitudes of ways, from meeting for mock interviews, fitness trainers, practicing piano, catching up on current events, wardrobe and style consultation, paperwork, meeting with sponsors, and even simple things, like doing laundry and packing for my next road trip! It is never a dull moment in the life of Miss Minnesota!
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Thanks for tuning in to this week's "Monday Minutes with Miss Minnesota!"
Until next week, keep shining!