Thursday, October 3, 2013

Miss USA 2013

           On the eve of Miss America, I finally decided to sit down and blog about my Miss USA experience.  It will be nice to cuddle up on the couch tomorrow night with my Miss USA roommate, Ellie Holtman Miss Missouri USA, and reminisce on our time at Miss USA.  It’s also comforting to know we don’t have to be the ones on tv in a swimsuit in front of millions of viewers.  You better believe there will be a lot of sweets and junk food involved in our viewing party.

            So many people have asked me what Miss USA was like, and to be honest, the only people that will ever truly know what it was like are the girls who experienced it with me.   It was unlike anything I could have imagined and I feel honored to be one of the select girls that really know what happens in Vegas, and as they say… What happens in Vegas… stays in Vegas.   

          As comic relief through the experience as well as to provide a humorous insight to how it felt sometimes, I describe it as a real life Hunger Games, of course without the vicious killing. For those of you who are not familiar with the Hunger Games series, this will make absolutely no sense to you. Here’s how the story goes...

        Fifty-one lucky tributes (and in my rendition of the story we actually are extremely lucky) are chosen to represent their district (state) in the 2013 Hunger Games (Miss USA.) After preparing with my mentor, (my State Director and fabulous Vanbros team) I was shipped off to the extravagant Capital (Vegas.) Once there, I began my extensive training for the pageant (photo shoots, filming, rehearsals, etc.) and just like in the book, I had Stylists, like Cinna, that helped make me look my best and gave me support and encouragement along the way.  I quickly formed allies with other “Districts” in order to survive.  These “allies” became my support and family during the three long weeks in Vegas.  During long days of rehearsals and having cameras on us constantly, I couldn’t help but hearing “Gale” in my head saying, “they just want a good show, that’s all they want.”  And having Guiliana Rancic and Nick Jonas with us at rehearsals, I kept picturing them as the Caesar Flickerman character.  When it came closer to the telecast, I could feel the pressure and tension rise as if people were watching me constantly.   As I stood there onstage the night of the telecast, waiting to hear the top 16, I felt as if it were the reaping.  While I stood there onstage, it felt like the final drop on the emotional roller-coaster I had been on for the last three weeks.  A bit of terror, followed by a bit of relief, followed by a bit of sadness.

            Being from Nebraska, I felt a little bit like Katniss Everdeen.  Nebraska is a lot like District 12, not exactly what you would call a “career” state.  However, I went to Miss USA ready to represent the greatest state in the country.  It was the greatest experience of my life and I feel truly lucky be part of the class of 2013! As my year as Miss Nebraska USA slowly comes to an end and the 2014 girls begin to take our places, I want to give all the ladies competing for their state titles some advice, one of you will be the next “girl on fire” and of course… “may the odds forever be in your favor..”

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Lead Up to Miss USA

Leading up to Miss USA, I had a ton of activities that I didn't have time to blog about, so I will make a quick list of everything I have been up to!

-Marianne's Rentals Fashion Show for the Children's Miracle Network in Oklahoma City
-Photo shoot with JA Taylor in Oklahoma City
-CureSearch Walk for Children's Cancer in Kansas City, walking for our official charity, Warriors for Ross
-Photo shoot with Simply Joyful Photography  
- Bootcamps in Kansas City to prepare for Miss USA
- Lindenwood University Fashion Show
- Rainbow for Kids Cinco de Mayo Party 
- Speaking to Willowdale Elementary School 
- Interviews with WOWT Channel 6 and Omaha World Herald
- Packing, shopping, packing

It has been a busy and crazy year!  Stay tuned for my blog about my Miss USA experience coming soon!  Thank you all for the support and love.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

March Events

March was a blur of events...  starting with the American Girl Fashion Show.  My beautiful Teen and I were lucky enough to emcee both the Friday and Saturday Patron show, and got to help get the girls ready for the runway!  Right after the show, Jasmine and I hit the road to Kansas City for our official Miss Nebraska USA and Miss Nebraska Teen USA photo shoot with our Vanbros family.  It was so much fun spending the day with our amazing director and sponsors, Kim Forsyth, Aquillia Vang, and Brian Wood.  You can view my official Miss USA photo and the rest of my profile online HERE!
 The next weekend, I hosted a Miss Amazing Dress Drive for the 95 participants who were signed up to participate in the 2013 Missouri Miss Amazing Pageant.  It was so much fun watching these girls pick out their dream dress and get excited about taking the stage.

Rachel picked my NE Teen USA dress from 2009!  

I was asked to be a part of the Salvation Army Fashion Show which was organized by my professor, Florence Dewan.  Not only did I get to model with my good friend, Ellie Holtman Miss Missouri USA, but I got to wear a beautiful gown designed by my talented friend Amra Alihodzic.  

With Amra, Ellie, and AJ from Project Runway
The following week was the weekend I have been preparing for all year;  the 2013 Missouri Miss Amazing Pageant.  For those of you who don’t know, when I first became a director two years ago my goal was to have around 20 girls in a small, donated venue.  With a lot of hard work I was able to grow the pageant to around 50 girls in one of the largest venues in St. Charles.  The news of last year’s pageant spread like wildfire and this year we doubled in size with over 90 girls participating.  It was a huge success.  It is definitely the most rewarding job a girl could have.  I am so lucky to be able to give girls who rarely get the chance, the opportunity to steal the spotlight and feel beautiful.  We have six amazing girls traveling to Omaha this September to represent Missouri in the first ever national Miss Amazing Pageant! 

Here is KSDK Channel 5 coverage of this year’s pageant!  Enjoy!

February Update... extremely late!!!

Wow, what a whirlwind of a year so far.  I am taking this rainy day to cuddle up in bed and let you all know some of things I have been up to.

 The last blog I wrote was about my LASIK eye surgery and it has now been over two months. I feel great about my decision.  With my busy schedule, it is great not having to worry about falling asleep in my contact lenses.  I always forget my contacts and glasses when I travel and I have been traveling a lot.

    I was back in Nebraska for some great events in the month of February.  I braved the cold with Mrs. Nebraska, Kandis Friedenbach and Miss Kool-Aid Days, Kimberly Brennan for The Heartland’s Walk for Warmth. All the walkers helped raise funds to help metro area residents heat their homes in the bitter cold winter months and cool their homes during the hot and humid summer months and to broaden community awareness about the need for energy assistance in the metro area.

        I was then off to the Easter Seals Nebraska Wine Event.  This event was very special to me because the mission of Easter Seals Nebraska is very important to me.  They have been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for more than 80 years. Whether helping someone improve physical mobility, return to work or simply gain greater independence for everyday living, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life's challenges and achieve personal goals.  It was also special in that I was joined by a few of my Miss Amazing girls from both Nebraska and Iowa, as well as my little sister, the state director of the Iowa Miss Amazing Pageant.  I gave the invocation before the delicious meal and got to introduce the Miss Amazing Queens and Princesses as well as talk about our organization. We had so much fun selling raffle tickets and helping with the auction. 

         To wrap up February, my sister and I got to shoot with Blacksheep Photography of Omaha.  Thank you so much Jim for such a fun day!  Here are a couple of my favorites!  Be sure to like his Facebook page!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February Update

"Amazing Eyes" Contest winner and last of my contacts and glasses!
After a month of laying low, I am finally updating everyone on what has been going on!  This last month I had Lasik eye surgery!   I have worn contacts and glasses since I was a little kid, and my vision has grown to be horrific!  The idea of not having to wear contacts or glasses anymore is unbelievable, but the thought of someone cutting and touching my eye terrified me.  I honestly don’t know if I would have gone through with it if it weren’t for the INCREDIBLE staff at Kugler Vision.  I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Lance Kugler a couple years ago when I won the “Amazing Eyes” contest.  I told him that I would love Lasik one day, but I can’t believe I actually went through with it!  By the end of it all, I realized I was worried for absolutely no reason!  The whole process was so easy, relaxing, and most importantly, completely painless!  Plus it only took about 15 minutes!  It is so bizarre not having to wear contacts or glasses; it’s like my eyeballs are naked after years of wearing contacts.  If you are thinking about Lasik, please go to Kugler Vision; you will not regret it!  Thank you Kugler for my “new” eyes!  Be sure to check out their website at!

            I am also proud to announce that my little sister has joined the Miss Amazing team and planned the very first Iowa Miss Amazing Pageant, which was held on February 2nd.  Not only was it the first Miss Amazing Pageant held in Iowa, it was the biggest Miss Amazing held nationwide!  She had over 50 girls across the state of Iowa sign up to participate.  It was truly an amazing day for all.  I wanted to thank my parents for supporting Maddie and me while running our events and also for allowing us to turn almost every room in the house into a Miss Amazing office. I’d also like to thank my brother, Ben, for encouraging us and for making sweet videos. And of course, I cannot thank my oldest brother, Jordan, enough for being the inspiration for our life.  Please take the time to watch and SHARE the video my brother made.  It will guarantee a smile on your face.

 Last night, I had a blast at the Autism Action Partnership’s Dance Nebraska event with some of the Nebraska Miss Amazing Queens.  We decorated puzzle pieces for individuals with autism, danced, goofed off in the photo booth, and had way too much fun!  This event was truly out of this world!  They had it all!  With a DJ, incredible dancers, a balloon maker on stilts, and even “Gangnam Style” impersonators, it was like one huge fiesta! The best part of it all was that everyone’s contribution made all the difference. From this event, they were able to raise over $3,000!  It’s incredible what people can do and how much support people can give for individuals with disabilities!

Friday, January 25, 2013

January Update

Aloha!  I can’t believe it’s January 25th and I haven’t written in my blog!  I haven’t been up to much this month, a lot of meetings with a lot of amazing organizations that I hope to work with throughout the year, as well as working for Miss Amazing Inc.  I am excited to announce that I will be signing on as Miss Amazing Inc.’s chief operating officer!  Hopefully Miss Amazing Inc. will spread to all fifty states by the end of 2013!  I am so blessed to be part of helping expand this organization nationwide! 
            This January I was also able to relax on the beautiful beaches of Maui with my amazing family.  I called this trip the calm before the storm.  This year is going to absolutely fly by!  Every weekend up until April is already booked!  Not to mention I have my final semester at school, planning Missouri Miss Amazing, and Miss USA to think about!  But, I am way too blessed to stress! 
            This entry is short and sweet, but I can’t wait to share all the exciting things I am going to be a part of!  The storm is about to start!
Beautiful sunset on the ocean
Mopeding around the island 
Met Steven Tyler while shopping! He is so nice! 
At my grandparents church with Ben and Maddie 
With my family (minus Jordan) on my grandparents balcony 
Paul and I dancing on the Marty Dread dinner cruise 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013!!!

Happy New Years! I am sad to see 2012 go; it was the best year of my life!  I started out 2012 by organizing the first Missouri Miss Amazing Pageant, which was a life changing event for everyone involved.  After the success of the pageant, I realized my true passion in life: making girls and young women with disabilities feel beautiful and confident.  I discovered a love for organizing events and hope to dedicate my life to working for Miss Amazing, Inc.

During the summer of 2012, I was able to travel to Scotland for the third time!  I love spending my summers there and this year was extra special because I attended my first Scottish wedding.  I loved seeing all the men in kilts and women in fancy hats.  I absolutely adore their culture and traditions. The wedding was incredibly beautiful and I look forward to going to another one next year!

While overseas, I also had the opportunity to spend time in breathtaking Portugal.  I am obsessed with their castles and I loved visiting all the historic places there.  It was the perfect vacation that consisted of golfing, laying by the pool, and seeing all the quaint little towns.  Not to mention, the food was fabulous!

Once back in the states, I started my senior year of school and continued to prepare for the 2013 Miss Nebraska USA pageant.  October 7, 2012  is a day I will never forget.  All my hard work and determination paid off as I was named Miss Nebraska 2013! I am still in awe, but I've remained grounded since becoming the 2013 titleholder. To finish off 2012, I have volunteered for many special causes and made appearances at events all over my hometown, and even Vegas at Miss Universe!

With Mayor Suttle at the Holiday Lights Festival Firework Show
My last appearance in 2012 was one to remember!  I had the amazing opportunity to join Omaha's Mayor, Jim Suttle, onstage along with other contributors to the Holiday Lights Festival for the New Year's Eve Fireworks Spectacular!  It was an amazing show and I am so thankful for the opportunity.  While watching the fireworks, I reflected on my year and thanked God for all the blessings he has given me and for all the people he has brought into my life.  I am so excited to see what he has in store for me in 2013!

I have a lot of big moments to look forward to in 2013, so be sure to follow my journey! I hope everyone had a fantastic end to 2012 and will continue to have a happy and healthy 2013!