Memories in Dallas! Week 11

Monday morning, I excitedly headed to the airport to spend several days with Ted and Shannon Skokos. Shannon is a former Miss Arkansas and philanthropist who now lives in Dallas, Texas. The $20,000 scholarship I received as Miss Arkansas was given by the Ted and Shannon Skokos Foundation. I am so thankful that she gratefully remembers her year as Miss Arkansas and chooses to generously give back to the Miss Arkansas Organization!!

Ted and Shannon Skokos at the Miss Arkansas pageant

I was really nervous about this trip to Dallas. Shannon had been in Honduras and Italy the weeks before, and I received an itinerary with little time to spare. I was uncertain about exactly what to pack for the variety of events but got some great tips from former Miss Arkansas titleholders. So I made the final packing decisions early Monday morning… and ended up taking the perfect amount of clothes!

Shannon met me at the airport to begin a busy day! Within the first hour in Dallas, I had toured their beautiful home and had my first rides in a Porsche and in a Ferrari. Wow! I especially enjoyed lunch with Patti Thorn Lusk, a former Miss Arkansas who also lives in Dallas. I loved meeting another Miss Arkansas sister! After lunch, we began shopping for my interview dress. Mary Ellen VanGilder, member of the Miss Arkansas Foundation Board, joined us for shopping. I really had fun with Mary Ellen and appreciated her shopping advice!

Monday night… FOOTBALL! Yes, it was my first visit to the Dallas Cowboys magnificent football stadium. We arrived in the Skokos’s suite to eat dinner before the game started. Amazed and distracted, I gazed around the arena as I took 45 minutes to finish my meal. The game was really close because of multiple field goals from each team. However, the greatest moment occurred when Dallas recovered a fumble to secure their victory in the last minute of play. Can you imagine how it looks and sounds from a skybox as 80,000 people to jump to their feet and cheer? Awesome!

With Shannon and Ted at the Cowboy's game.

Tuesday, Mary Ellen and I spent the morning in the gym. She taught me some great new moves with the exercise ball … I was feeling that later! We then had lunch with Jalin Wood, a former Miss Mississippi who models in Dallas. After lunch, we finished our shopping excursions by finding a fabulous interview dress!! It is being altered and mailed to me in a few weeks!

Stephanie Whitworth, one of my judges at Miss Arkansas, and Susie Morgan, a former Miss Arkansas, joined us for dinner. I ordered sea bass and of course … it was delicious! It was fun to have the chance to really talk with Stephanie, as we haven’t talked much since the Miss Arkansas after party. Then, we went to the Wylie Performing Arts Theater to watch a modern twist on The Tempest by William Shakespeare. The stage and actors were amazing!

Stephanie Whitworth and I

Wednesday, I had plans to encourage elementary students in a south Dallas neighborhood plagued by poverty and crime. Instead, they encouraged and inspired me! St. Philip’s School is a parochial school that focuses first on giving its students a spiritual foundation of leadership and character. Each grade, kindergarten to 6th grade, is involved in a service project to give back to the community. These students are so bright and wise! From what I observed, they are advanced in reasoning, music, vocabulary, and memorization skills. They often repeat the St. Philips Creed , a 10 minute statement on Christian values. I was very impressed.

Their response during my presentation almost brought me to tears. Before I was introduced, the superintendent was talking to the students about dreaming to be doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. He offered examples of what to say and think when ridiculed by someone else for the dreams you have. When it was my turn to speak, I brought up my interest to be a scientist! I talked about the time I spent in lab, setting things on fire and playing with acids. They oohed and aahed! Haha! Toward the end of my presentation, I asked for questions from the audience. Someone asked if I had reached my goal to become a scientist. I answered, “Yes, I graduated with a degree in Chemistry from Ouachita Baptist University.” They started clapping. They made me feel so proud. I was especially honored to receive their applause and humbled by their congratulations on my college degree. I hope I never forget that moment.
Students at the St. Philip's Elementary School in Dallas

We then went back to the Wylie Theater so that I could dance for the performing arts staff. They loved my tap dance and asked several questions about Miss America. I felt very encouraged. We stopped by The Commissary for lunch … talk about a good burger! The chef, John Tesar, had recently won the Extreme Chef competition on the Food Network! Yeah … his burger was excellent!

Staff at the Wylie Performing Arts Center

Wednesday night, Shannon and Ted hosted a cocktail party for the University of Arkansas. Everybody was getting excited about the upcoming Razorback/Aggie football game! Afterwards, we went to Oishi for sushi. It was by far my favorite meal!! The finale consisted of red bean ice cream and quail eggs! To serve the delicacy, the chef cracks the top of the egg, adds a little spice, and carefully places the egg on a bed of carrot shavings. You then drink the inside of the quail egg and leave the shell. It was a little slimy, but very yummy! Also, while at the restaurant, we watched the Texas Rangers win the baseball game that gave them home field advantage in the playoffs. Ted and Shannon are part owners of the Rangers, and they were extremely excited over the victory! Ted ordered for the entire restaurant so patrons could participate in a toast to the Rangers as they vie for a spot in the World Series! It was great!

Wednesday evening, Shannon taught me her famous lesson on table etiquette! I can now dine with confidence, regardless of the setting or guests. We then talked late into the night. I told her that was my favorite part of the week! I appreciate her insight, encouragement, and advice. I will always cherish that meaningful conversation!

Thursday, I waited in the airport as my plane was delayed for 7 hours. I was so happy to finally make it back to Arkansas because I had a busy day planned for Friday! Early Friday, I met with Laine Berry and Jason Masters for a Miss America program book photo shoot. Jason has an incredible eye for photography, and I love his high fashion expertise! I can’t wait to see the photo in the program book!

Friday night, I enjoyed a fine dinner at the Marlsgate Plantation in Scott. If you have never been to Marlsgate, then you need to make a trip to the beautiful site, which is on the National Register of Historic Places! I welcomed the Mississippi River Commission to the plantation and ate dinner with the group. My favorite item on the menu was elk and pheasant gumbo. Yum!

Marlsgate Plantation in Scott
My parents and I at the plantation.

On Saturday evening, I was thrilled to see seventeen contestants competing for Miss Spirit of Arkansas, which was won by Amber Gross. Caitlyn Cook will represent her hometown as she was crowned Miss Conway on Sunday afternoon. Congratulations to both queens! I look forward to seeing you on the Miss Arkansas stage next summer!

I was so excited to see Miss Alexis!
Several of the contestants and Ashlen after the pageant!

The new queen! Congrats Amber!

Next week will be exciting! I have several workouts and meetings with sponsors, including Tony Bowls to design some wardrobe pieces for Miss America! I will be visiting several schools such as my college roommate’s classroom! Finally… I am spending the weekend at Ouachita Baptist University and participating in several homecoming events! Tiger Tunes, a homecoming competition and legacy, will be the highlight of my week along with reuniting with many college friends!


Anonymous said...
February 14, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Ted and Shannon Skokos
This is so awful. These people have a permanent porta potty on our street in front of their house. It’s been there for over a year. They make the help use it. They have a gate to it and its on park lane. They even have a landscaped trail to it. Gross

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