Never Give Up! Week 31!

I’m so pleased to share these photos from photographer Steve Newby.  Dr. Michael Cooper, an exceptional dentist and strong sponsor of the Miss Arkansas Pageant, will use them throughout the year in magazine ads.  Thank you again, Dr. Cooper, for my Durathins, which look natural and beautiful! 

Who knew that it would snow on Monday?  Thankfully, the roads were clear by the afternoon so I could make it to dinner with CITGO executives.  As CITGO schedules conferences in different states, they love to ask state titleholders to attend the conference and break the ice.  They have already met Miss Indiana, Miss Wisconsin, Miss Michigan, and Miss Texas.  It was fun to talk about our mutual friends/Miss America contestants over dinner.  Oh … and did I mention that they treated me to the “best steak in Arkansas” at the Capriccio Grill in the Peabody … yum! 

On Tuesday, prior to the conference, we had a photo session.  I opened the actual conference by welcoming the group to Arkansas and thanking them for the service they provide for our state.  I told a few stories of my year as Miss Arkansas and shared several laughs.  It was such a fun surprise when they handed me a box of chocolates… it was Valentine’s Day after all!! 

I then headed to Stuttgart to speak at the Rotary Club.  My dad has been a member of the Rotary Club for many years, and they always invite Miss Arkansas to speak.  One year, Miss Arkansas held a dance contest among a few men within the group.  My dad won the dance contest, and Miss Arkansas actually crowned him with her crown.  The newspaper took a picture and placed it on the front page of the newspaper!  I told this story in my closing statement in every pageant interview for the past two years.  I would always end by saying, “I want to be Miss Arkansas so that my dad isn’t the only one in the family who has worn the Miss Arkansas crown!”  Haha!  I think it was an effective closing statement because it was unique, humorous, and memorable. 

This year at Rotary Club, the buffet ran out of food because of the surprisingly large audience!  I was thrilled to see old friends and familiar faces crowd the Stuttgart Country Club.  Since most of the audience already knew me and my platform stories, I decided to share stories from my year as Miss Arkansas.  We laughed and joked throughout the entire program.  I appreciated their interest and sincere support.  It will always be one of my favorite public speaking moments. 

The only thing that kept Wednesday from being a perfect day was the humid atmosphere, which caused a bad hair day.  I guess we all have those days every once in a while!  Mom and I met my PawPaw at the Arkansas State Capital building. Governor Beebe greeted us in his office, and we took several photos with my Senator, Eddie Jo Williams, and my Representative, Tiffany Rogers.  PawPaw served in public office on the state level for decades, so the capitol feels like home to him.  If you can only imagine, PawPaw wanted to introduce me to EVERYONE!  Haha!  My PawPaw makes me feel so special. 

After lunch, I was introduced to the House of Representatives.  They all stood and welcomed me with a hearty round of applause!  We then walked to the Senate floor, and I was given the opportunity to speak before the Senators.  I told them of the comments Miss America Teresa Scanlan shared with the contestants at the Miss America contestant meeting in August.  “A lot of people think Miss America is a celebrity.  I think Miss America is closer to a politician.  The reason is because you always have to present yourself in a positive light instead of hiding from the public.  Therefore, you are representing something larger than yourself.  You are representing your state and organization!” 

Wednesday night, I traveled to Miss Arkansas State University to watch Kelsey Dow crown Chelsea Treadway.  Congratulations, Chelsea, and best of luck as you represent your university at Miss Arkansas!  The pageant is strongly supported by the campus, and the audience was very energized!  I especially enjoyed talking with Kelsey, who was recently crowned Miss Arkansas USA!  I believe she is a beautiful girl from the inside-out, and I am excited that she is representing Arkansas at Miss USA.  Go Kelsey!! 

I spent Friday with my business manager, Mrs. Vicki Rima, in Hot Springs.  She arranged for a meeting with the Sentinel-Record, the Hot Springs newspaper that has supported the Miss Arkansas Pageant for decades!  Then, I met with the leaders of Men Mentoring Young Men, and we shared ideas and encouragement associated with mentoring.  I spent the lunch hour at the Jackson House serving free lunches to the needy.  Finally, I visited a center for disabled adults, Abilities Unlimited Inc.  The adults had been excited about my visit for a week!  They had prepared cards, one kind man sang me his rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly,” and several dressed up to meet me!

The serving crew at the Jackson House!

She wore that beautiful dress just for me!  Thank you Abilities Unlimited for welcoming me!

Saturday, we celebrated 80 years of the Miss Hot Springs Pageant!  Wow!  One of the Miss contestants is deaf, and she took the stage with great courage!  I consider her to be an inspiration!  Also, Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen’s princess performed a ventriloquism act that was modeled after the talent of Miss Arkansas 2010 Alyse Eady.  She was precious!  Congratulations to Samantha Hudon who was named Miss Hot Springs!   It will be wonderful to see you on the Miss Arkansas stage!

Skylar, me, and Samantha

Also, congratulations to Mary Ellen Hunthrop who was named Miss Southeast Arkansas!  I am very excited to see you compete in Miss Arkansas this summer! 

We have lots of preliminary pageants this upcoming, but I am most excited about Miss Ouachita Baptist University!  Hope you can make it to Arkadelphia for the incredible show on Saturday night as I give up   my crown to the next deserving representative!  woohoo!

One year ago, I was named Miss Ouachita Baptist University! 

The bit of encouragement that I would like to offer present and future contestants this week is to NEVER GIVE UP!  I watched Samantha and Mary Ellen earn crowns this weekend.  They are girls who competed in multiple preliminary pageants and never gave up.  I experienced a journey like this, too!  In 2009, I lost three preliminary pageants and never qualified for Miss Arkansas that year.  In 2010, I competed in four more pageants before winning Miss Cotton Belle.  When I finally won, I was sincerely appreciative of the title and had improved my skills!  I learned more of who I am and had overcome the fear of failure!  That year at Miss Arkansas, I won a talent preliminary and placed 3rd runner-up among 42 outstanding young women.   Never give up on achieving your goals! 


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