Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Miss Ohio Week

Let me begin by saying, Blogger changed it's layout about two months ago and I've yet to totally figure it out. I'm getting better, but my entries are not what they were for years.  I'm sorry!  I'm still learning and struggling to get the layout, text and photos all together.  I apologize!

Hello! I hope you had a great week! There is not enough room on this blog to explain the amazing time Shayla and I had helping out at Miss Ohio all of last week! What a privilege, treat and blessing! (Picture: Shayla with Miss Ohio 2011 – Ellen Bryan, a graduate of Ball State, who will be starting her broadcasting career with an ABC affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky this week!) Here are our highlights:

I love a parade! The contestants looked beyond beautiful rolling through the streets of Mansfield in Sunday’s parade. This is beautiful Miss Mohican Valley, a college student at Hillsdale College in Michigan. I was assigned to be her Mentor this spring and they could not have given me a sweeter gal! She rolled down the street in an MG - too cute!  I had daily contact working with Veronica for about 90 straight days. I fell in love with her and her mother. We loved when they came to Tiffin so we could do some more mock interviewing and of course dining! Veronica was voted Miss Photogenic and I’m so happy for her! I wish her the very best for continued success! She should be proud!  She is a class act!

When I was asked to help out I said that I would do anything backstage, but I would not perform or anything like that. The next thing I knew I was told I was going to do some emceeing at the preliminary nights and I needed to send my measurements in to Miss Ohio. I responded, “Absolutely not! The last time I sent my measurements to Miss Ohio they appeared along with my height and weight printed in the program book!” I was assured that they no longer do that and the measurements were needed because “Henry’s Cloud Nine” - an amazing pageant/prom store in Columbus would be providing me with a gown to wear on stage. OK, I could agree for that! Hee hee!  (Picture:  Asking the woman, who was later crowned Miss Ohio, her on-stage question about cyber bulling.  She did a great job; they all were articulate and well spoken.)

Shayla and I had the opportunity to present some auction items during the style show Tuesday night. She loved this gorgeous gown she was given to wear and I did too, even though she looked like she was 20 in it instead of 13. She had a blast talking on stage and modeling the “toothbrush system” which was auctioned off later – what a hoot!

We were blessed to share a dressing room for four nights with Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (Pictured here with Shayla). She was such a sweetie! Shayla and Elizabeth really hit it off and became fast friends. During dinner one night, sitting outside on the sidewalk, I overheard Shayla ask her if she liked Cedar Point. She didn’t know what it was (She’s from Florida.) so Shayla went on and on about it. I told her I had our passes in our car and if she was allowed to, I would zip the girls off for a few hours of fun. Soon after arriving back in our hotel room that night, Shayla received a text from Elizabeth. She found a Cedar Point pamphlet in her hotel lobby, snapped a picture of it and asked, “Can your mom ask my traveling chaperone if we can go?” The next day I learned Elizabeth was booked for lunch each day so there was no way that was going to work out, but she insisted she will come back to Ohio and we can treat her to “America’s Rock and Roller Coast!”

 Our very best wishes to Elizabeth who will soon be starting her college career this fall, majoring in broadcasting, funded with her $30,000 scholarship!

My highlight of the week was seeing my former host mom after 20 years. I was working backstage when another awesome chaperone assured me Terri was out in the audience and waiting to see me. Terri looked exactly the same and tears were soon gushing down my face as I tightly hugged her. While we had exchanged Christmas cards every year, I had not seen her since our wedding in 1991. It was absolutely beyond fabulous to see her. These sweet women are amazing, compassionate and thoughtful, opening their homes, arms and hearts to complete strangers. Terri got to meet Shayla and told her, “I want you to see your mom’s bedroom.” Shayla had heard many things about my old Miss Ohio days including the fact that Terri snuck me into her bedroom to secretly use her phone so I could call Shayne one night when she knew I was missing him terribly and it felt sooooooooo good to talk to him since we were not allowed to have contact with any of our friends or family while we were competing. Terri remembered that and said, “I knew Shayne wasn’t going to say anything bad to you. I knew you were missing him.” She is the sweetest lady, a mother of six!  Shayla was excited to see the house where I stayed all three years I completed.  (Picture: Shayla and I took a break from the theater and took Terri and her darling granddaughters to lunch one day at a cute little "famous" place in downtown Mansfield where Terri's cheerleading outfit is in a glass case on the wall - soooooo cool!)

(Picture:  Asking on-stage questions.  This one about children overcoming divorce.)

What was most touching was Terri told me her husband wanted to see me. I was surprised he even remembered me, a busy dentist who didn’t spend a ton of time with us contestants because he was exercising or working, but who also did a “Dairy Queen” run for us each night when we got back to their home. I do remember the short amounts of time we had with him, this sweet and amazing man always engaged us “daughters” in deep conversations about current events. Sadly, they had lost a son before I started competing so we shared condolences with each other and talked a lot about our deceased children and the aftermath of our lives without them. What’s really odd is my favorite Executive Directors – Jan and Don Moll (Miss North Coast) had also lost a child shortly before I was their titleholder and one of my fellow contestant’s passed away in a tragic plane crash so it was emotional – yet good – to catch up with all of these special people. I really believe God placed me with these particular people for a reason 20 years ago, yet I wouldn't fully understand why – until now. They “get it”.

My deepest thanks to all of the local executive directors, MOSP board members, production crew, staff, and volunteers for the thousands of hours they put in for other people’s children. They really roll out red carpet in Mansfield and countless people work tirelessly for this amazing experience! (Picture: Shayla with the show’s producer – the amazing John Kunkle – trying on a Power Ranger helmet. She thought he was the sweetest theater producer she’s ever worked with. Most of the one’s she’s worked with have yelled and complained. John did none of that, which made her feel so good. Shayla also liked the prayers that took place.  I assured her he was just as sweet 20 years ago to all of us young ladies.  Now he's like our dad - so proud of us and what we've done with our lives!  Amazing!  I was so happy he had kept in touch with so many of my former pageant friends so he could update me on their lives and new married names.)

Shayla’s funniest part of the week was watching her mother get put in her place! I was told I was going to be interviewed one day for a promotional video they are making about how the Miss Ohio program has played a role in the lives of former contestants. I jotted down a list of what wanted to talk about and when I got in the room I gave it to the video producer. He handed it right back and said, “I’m a producer. I ask the questions.” Without missing a beat I said, “I’m a professor. I speak from notes.” He said, “Not today. Sit in that chair; the lights are very hot. Look at me, not in the camera."  I glanced at Shayla and she was covering her mouth to keep from laughing out loud! What a hoot!

Before we took off for Mansfield, I overheard Shayne say to Shayla, “You will spend your week surrounded by high achieving, hard working, successful people. Your mom always returned from Mansfield changed. She was willing to try to accomplish new things; she set higher goals for herself; she had a new self-confidence; she was empowered. I wonder if you will come back changed too.” Well, she did! She definitely came back changed. One morning we didn’t have any responsibilities so we left our hotel and headed to the mall. I’ve been asking her off and on for years, “Would you like to get your ears pierced?” and she’s always said no. This time she said, “Yes, actually, I would!”  I had gift cards to Claires from the sweet Grant family in Philadelphia - what a great treat!

Two of the contestants had asked me a while back to go onstage with them, during the opening part of the pageant, as the person who most inspires them for education and for their platform. I was deeply touched. Thursday night, I proudly stood beside Veronica as she told them I’ve inspired her to take her education to the next level. “Do you know that less than one percent of the population has earned a PhD? Let me introduce you to that one percent.” (I don’t remember what she said after that, I was very touched.  I was proud to stand beside her!)

On Friday afternoon, during rehearsal, I held Nina’s hand as she spoke in the microphone and tears streamed down both of our faces. (Her platform is the Children’s Miracle Network - nothing like hitting close to home!  Yikes!) Friday night, we stood behind the curtains holding hands and saying, “We can do this without crying.” Well, I choked back tears as Miss Fallen Timbers said many very sweet things including, “Despite the loss of her daughter, Dr. Thomas has taught me through her actions the importance of giving back to those who have helped you, and to those organizations who help children.”

I also had the pleasure of helping Miss North Coast this spring. In my opinion, she received the highest award a contestant could receive. The other contestants voted for her to be Miss Ohio if they couldn’t and I cried when they called her name! She is an exceptionally nice young woman and I’m proud to know her!
Congratulations to the 2012 Miss Ohio, Elissa McCracken from Pennsylvania, a piano playing pharmacy student at Ohio Northern University! I was asked to serve on her prep team for the interview portion of her competition at Miss America.  It will be my honor and pleasure to help. We wish her well at Miss America in January in Las Vegas and know she will do a great job serving Ohio this year!

Thanks for letting me share our exciting and special week with you!  Here's wishing you and yours a fantastic week!  ENJOY!

And for a wee bit of humor.  Some of you may know my favorite TV show is "Dance Moms" and Shayne has been driving to Pittsburg for work here and there.  Since we were out of town, he schedule himself to be out of town too.  (Otherwise we miss each other too much.  I know it's corney, but it's really true!)  I often joke to him that I'm riding along with him to Pittsburg and then I'm going to catch a cab and find Abby Lee's dance studio!  Well, imagine my shock and surprise one night to get a picture of Shayne outside of Abby Lee's dance studio in Pittsburgh!  I could not believe it; I just could not believe it, but little did he know, he was soon to be topped!  Cathy (a character on the reality tv show who is Abby Lee's rival, who owns Candy Apples Dance Studio in Ohio, was there with one of her students who was competing for Miss Ohio.  The contestant brought Cathy to the Miss Ohio stage as her person of educational inspiration.  I wasn't brave enough to ask for a picture, but I did snap one of her on stage.  Shayne was shocked when he saw that picture - too too funny!  And I did get to say to her, "I'm #5, move on back."  When she asked what number I was when we were lining up.  (OK, let's just say she's NOT my favorite person on the show, but it was very cool to see her in person.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

2012 Dance Recital

(Pic: Math / Science camp end of camp service) Just a little update: Summer is flying by! I thought I’d better share a few dance recital pictures from last weekend. It was bittersweet of course, but oh so lovely! We took Shayla straight from her recital Sunday afternoon down to the prestigious Denison University in Granville. She was selected to attend a math/science camp for high achieving 7th and 8th grade girls for the week. Despite our nightly “date nights” we missed her terribly. We posed a few silly pictures (doing some of her favorite things we would NEVER do such as jumping on her trampoline, reading Harry Pottery and playing in the creek) and I sent them to her. She loved them! When I first saw her on Friday afternoon, I had to choke back tears, it was fabulous to see her again! We talked nonstop the entire 2 ½ hours home. Prior to the recital weekend, we took her and some friends to Columbus to a “Foster the People” concert. We told her if she scored over a 100% in World History, we would buy six concert tickets so off we went. (Little did I realize it would be a bit of an education for the girls who said after the concert, “Mrs. Thomas, what was that smell?” Oh my! Life can make you grow up too quickly!) Congrats to Christi & Shayla's cousin on her high school graduation. Shayla has also been keeping us busy with her boy (She's riding Desperado this year.) and her sewing lessons. Thank God for Shayla richly blessing our lives! Another busy week is here and for that we are more grateful! Here’s wishing you and yours a fabulous one! Be well! Angela ref="" imageanchor="1" style="clear:left; float:left;margin-right:1em; margin-bottom:1em">

Monday, June 11, 2012

Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarships Awarded - Dance Unlimited

Another year, another dance recital! Time for more scholarships in Christi's memory! Congratulations to this year's scholarship winners, pictured here with Shayla. (Back left: Nicki, Katie, Taylor. Front left: Shayla with Brooke - $1,000 winner and Rachael) This year's $1,000 winner is Brooke. The other gals were each awarded $250.00. Soon I will post pictures of Shayla's dancing and 2012 recital experience. It was a fabulous weekend! Here is my speech I gave Saturday night to announce the winners! Some of you may remember our little dancer, Christi Thomas. If Christi had lived, she would be 15 now and going into the 11th grade. It was just 12 weeks after her very first dance recital, when she was only five, that she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – stage IV, the most deadly form of all childhood cancers. For four straight years she fought the evil beast with gallons of chemotherapy, many weeks of radiation treatments, a few big surgeries and experimental drugs too numerous to remember. By the grace of God, she was somehow able to dance in three of the four dance recitals during those 4 years of continual cancer treatments. Just 12 weeks after the curtain closed here at the Ritz, for what turned out to be her last dance recital in 2006, she went to dance on a stage that must be even more beautiful than this gorgeous one here. She was 9. After Christi’s death we determined we would award annual scholarships to deserving young men and woman in Seneca and Sandusky counties as a tribute to Christi, as a way to give back to those who helped us throughout the most difficult and horrific four years of our life, and to keep Christi’s memory alive. One of the scholarships we give each year goes to a Dance Unlimited Senior. Our Scholarship committee consists of six members now. We added a new member this year (Pause and look at Shayla). Shayla smiled and waved, too funny! This year’s scholarship selection team had an incredibly difficult task. I really hate this and wonder if it’s worth it because we cannot give each student a $1,000 check despite the fact every one of them would be a fabulous, well-deserving choice. This is very, very hard and pains me. They are all simply amazing individuals, exactly the kind of women we had hoped Christi would grow up to be like. While we cannot fund them all, we decided to add four smaller scholarships to somehow reward at least a few more of these students. Therefore, the following women, read in absolutely no order whatsoever, will each receive a $250 scholarship. This will be mailed to them on August 1st. Talor Musil,Kaitlyn Smith,Rachael Floodand Nicki Brose This year’s $1,000 winner will also receive a candy bouquet! One of the many things this year’s winner wrote in her essay was about her last encounter with Christi, as our families happened to walk out of the theater together. She wrote, “Christi’s eyes widened to the size of golf balls at the sight of my delicious candy bouquet my mother had just given me. Christi maturely looked up at me and said, ‘Now don’t eat all of that in one day; you will get a stomach ache.’ I smiled at her and thanked her for the advice. That was my last encounter with Christi.” And now we smile at HER and thank HER for sharing her memories of Christi with us. She is so deserving of this award. Congratulations to this year's $1,000 Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship Winner - Brooke Siesel!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hope Jackson remains at large

Thanks dear, sweet bloggers for your love and support! Unfortunately, Hope Jackson has been “on the run” for months. The Billings, Montana police are unable to find her. There is an outstanding warrant for her, but she can’t be located. Our hope (no pun intended) by finally going public is that someone will let the authorities know where Hope Jackson is, or they will get her to turn herself in. She has been notified that she (and/or her legal counsel) needs to contact Sergeant Cable Johnson (Email) Homeland Security/Special Events Unit 
 Arlington Police Department 
 620 West Division St. 
 Arlington, TX 76011 
(817) 459-5670 Arlington, Texas Police Report ##11-76809 Hope Jackson has pending criminal charges against her in Arlington, TX for scamming the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. She also has pending charges in several other states for theft by deception / fraud as she has scammed many other people/groups with Christi's story over the years. Thanks for your support and help, bloggers! This mugshot I posted is from 2009 incidents. It is not current.