Those who inspire me... Week 40

In the past 3 weeks, I have slept in my bed only 6 nights.  I am up to 33,000 miles on my car, and I have had 3 nails in my tires since last July.  I have lost about 10 pairs of earrings from packing and unpacking so many times.  Haha, living the life of a nomad makes for an exciting life!

Tuesday, I headed to Hot Springs to celebrate volunteer week with St. Joseph’s Hospital.  I was so surprised and inspired by those senior citizens!  All volunteers were above the age of 60 and had served 80,000 volunteer hours collectively in the last year!  One man told me that he pushed wheelchairs so that the nurses could do what they learned at school.  Other volunteers welcome patients and families during their hospital stay.  Several volunteers have served for 5-20 years in the hospital.  I thanked them for setting an example of service for me to live up to! 

I returned to my old stomping grounds, Arkadelphia, to speak to First Baptist Church on Tuesday night.  I spoke about my platform and performed my a cappella tap dance.  You know that people appreciated your message when they stay 30 minutes after the event to visit with you!  I was once told that Miss Arkansas is always the last person to leave an event, and I definitely believe it!  It was wonderful to see several familiar faces and have dinner with several sorority sisters. 

Wednesday, I met with some park rangers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers …  Talk about nice people!  For several years, they have asked Miss Arkansas to record radio and TV commercials to promote boating safety: in fact, last year I even memorized Alyse’s commercial!   My family spends a lot of time on the lake during the summer so I realize the importance of water safety.  Once we recorded the radio ads in the studio, we traveled 30 minutes to Mount Brady to film the commercials.   I can’t tell you how many times I have traveled through Arkansas and thought it must be the most beautiful state in the nation!   I am proud to be from the Natural State because of the awe-inspiring lakes, hiking trails, campgrounds, hunting and fishing opportunities … It’s Mother Nature at her finest! 

Thursday was a day of catching up and repacking.  I drove to Jonesboro on Thursday night since I had an appearance early Friday morning.  Samantha Glover and Kim Futrell welcomed me to Jonesboro and made me feel right at home!  On Friday morning, I joined the pre-K students at the Trike-a-thon for St. Jude’s Hospital.  I had lots of fun with the kids and hopped on a scooter to join their race.  Three kids from St. Jude’s Hospital attended the awards ceremony and helped hand out awards.  I was especially impressed with Ben, who won the battle with leukemia at the age of 8.  Two years later, he is incredibly mature and gracious!  I obviously wasn’t the only one enamored with Ben because he has served as a St. Jude’s spokesperson across the nation and once co-starred in a commercial with Robin Williams!  I admire survivors like Ben! 

Hope for Little Heroes! 

I joined the trike-a-thon on my scooter! 

 Me, Edmond (he raised the most money for St. Jude's, and Ben!

Mom and I traveled to Paragould on Saturday to attend an inner beauty workshop for girls at Finch Baptist Church.  When I arrived at the church, the girls rushed to hug me.  I instantly noticed the crazy hair-do’s and red lipstick!  The theme for the weekend was “Be a Rockstar!”  I loved it!  I signed lots of autographs and t-shirts and later visited each grade individually.  The girls asked lots of good questions, but I was especially tickled with this one, “Your teeth are so white.  Do you wear a flipper?”   “No…”   “Oh, you must brush your teeth 12 times a day!”  Haha, I will have to tell Dr. Cooper about that one!  I smiled when a dainty little girl told me, “Miss Arkansas, you are cute!”  When we gathered for an assembly, I spoke to the girls about inner beauty and knowing that God made each person perfectly unique and special.  The girls were especially giddy when I tap danced.  With appearances like this one, I pray those girls never forget my visit.  I don’t care if they remember me as Miss Arkansas, but I pray that something Miss Arkansas said will stick with them forever. 

I hope that you have a church family like I do.  On Sunday, I was honored to speak at the annual First Baptist Church Ladies’ Luncheon in Stuttgart.  Growing up in this church helped form me spiritually and develop my passions.  My church has supported me through everything, specifically the summer that I served as an intern in the Promise House, a shelter for pregnant teenagers.  It was a blessing to celebrate God’s faithfulness and blessings with the church family who has experienced it with me!  I can’t remember ever receiving more hugs than I did on Sunday!  I enjoyed lunch with a table of young princesses, and they were a hoot!  Miss Rylee told me that she had entered a pageant but received only a participation award.  I laughed and told her that happened to me too … at Miss America!   We have a lot in common! 

These princesses made for an entertaining lunch!  

I mentioned several people in this week’s blog who have inspired me.  However, I don’t ever thank my parents as much as they deserve.  My mom has chaperoned and driven me to more than half of my appearances.  My father gives just as much effort through service and travels with me when he can.  They have attended all but one of the preliminary pageants this year.  I simply could not have survived the year without them!  I love you, Mom and Dad! 

This week’s advice comes from my favorite Miss America of all time, Laura Kaeppler. Laura recently sent an email to the state contestants saying, “I have tried, and will continue to try, to put only my best foot forward this year and be the best representative I can possibly be. That does not only mean for the Miss America Organization but also for my fellow sisters. This is an organization comprised of not only 1 titleholder, but 53 state titleholders, hundreds of local title holders and thousands of contestants who compete but may not ever wear a crown. I am proud to represent the organization but also hope to share it with you as much as possible – as this is not a journey capable of being walked alone.”  Recognize that your words and actions represent something much greater than yourself.  Use your influence wisely!  Laura is an excellent example to follow!  


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