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.)