Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Boasting on those I crowned…

My last pageant title was Miss Maumee Valley; when I gave up that title the pageant became a “double crown” and I also got to crown a new Miss All*American City.
Check out the recent events these titleholders have been part of:

[Above, my good friend Miss All*American City, Lauren Hogan, performs during the 7th Inning Stretch at a recent Toledo Mud Hen’s baseball game.]

[Above, Miss Maumee Valley, Kristen Haas, and Miss All*American City, Lauren Hogan, pose before a Memorial Day parade in Maumee.]

[Above: Miss Maumee Valley, Kristen Haas, and Maumee Valley’s Outstanding Teen Kellie Kulka.]

[Above: Miss All*American City, Lauren Hogan.]

The Miss Universe Pageant on YouTube!

I nearly missed the Miss Universe pageant because I was busy hosting a last minute Memorial Day cookout, but luckily my mom called to remind me! If in fact you did miss the pageant, no worries, several clips are on YouTube. Scroll below to see them...

Miss USA in the Swimsuit Competition

Miss USA in the Evening Gown Competition. (Including her heartbreaking fall.)

Miss USA being disrespectfully booed during Onstage Question

The Crowning of Miss Universe 2007

Miss Japan in Swimsuit and Eveing Gown Competition

Monday, May 28, 2007

Congratulations to the New Miss Universe, Miss Japan!

[The above photo is from the AP; the rest are from the Miss Universe website. I've included Swimsuit, National Costume and Gown photos of the Top 5, but note, none of these women competed in the gowns photographed here.]

Riyo Mori, Miss Japan was named the new Miss Universe! I personally found this 20 year olds win a bit surprising. She seemed too bouncy and immaturely playful to me, especially in evening gown.


Miss Brazil, Natalia Gumaraes, came close, being awarded 1st Runner-up.


Miss Venezuela, Ly Jonaitis, was named 2nd Runner-up.


Miss Korea, Honey Lee, was named 3rd Runner-up; and I just thought pageant judge Dave Navara was being a flirty rock star when he called her "Honey!"


Miss USA, Rachel Smith, was sadly named 4th Runner-up. She had an unfortunate fall during the evening gown competition and was then rudely booed by the Mexican fans while trying to answer her onstage question.

The remaining Top 10!

[Above: Miss Tanzania and Miss India]

[Above: Miss Angola and Miss Nicaragua; Below: Miss Mexico]

The remaining Top 15!

[Above: Miss Denmark and Miss Ukraine]

[Above: Miss Slovenia and Miss Thailand; Below: Miss Czech Republic]

In other awards, Miss Philippines [left] was named most Photogenic and Miss China [right] was voted Miss Congeniality.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Children’s Miracle Network

As most of my readers probably already know, the Miss America Program has partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network. The details of the partnership are a bit controversial, and since I’m not a contestant anymore, I’ve not taken the time to articulate my opinion about it here.

But now, ironically, I find myself involved with CMN through my job at FOX Toledo! So first, let me share how I’m involved, and then we’ll dive into the pros and cons of the Miss America partnership.

St. Vincent Mercy Children’s Hospital / Children’s Miracle Network 25th Anniversary Celebration on FOX Toledo

On Sunday June 3rd FOX Toledo will broadcast the 25th Annual Celebration / Telethon for CMN, located in our area at St. Vincent Mercy Children’s Hospital. This will be a three location and seven camera event. Our lead anchors will in studio, a couple reporters will be in the phone room at the hospital and meteorologist Mike Morrison and I will be at Toledo’s Docks with the live entertainment. I was originally not going to be involved with this event, but thankfully, someone changed their mind.

To prepare, I was invited on a tour of the Toledo facility, and I asked if I could bring a friend… In the photo above Miss Northwestern Ohio, Becky Minger, Miss All*American City Lauren Hogan and I pose in front of a wall of tiles which children painted to show what a miracle means to them.

I knew nothing about CMN, and most of what I assumed was incorrect. Here’s a bit of what I learned:

* CMN does not aid specific types of illness, or cater unfortunate financial situations; rather, a child is lucky to go to a CMN hospital if that is the hospital their parent’s health care provider is partnered with.

* CMN does not directly pay a family, or pay for a child’s care; rather, they provide services that go above and beyond what the hospital can provide. (In extreme circumstances there are exceptions to this rule.) CMN funds things like playrooms, games, toys, movies, therapy dogs, family locker rooms, in-room sleeper sofas, family kitchenettes, etc… CMN hospitals realize that children can not be treated like “little adults,” and as a result steps are taken to make the hospital feel as little like a hospital as possible.

* CMN is young; it was founded in 1983. There are 170 CMN hospitals in North America and this not-for-profit organization is quickly growing and will soon be world wide. CMN hospitals must agree to treat a child regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

* Children’s hospitals are no longer like orphanages; children’s stays are extremely short. There is no outdoor play area, because if they’re well enough to play outside, they’re well enough to go home. At Toledo’s CMN hospital, only about 4,000 children are inpatients each year, whereas the outpatient wing sees about 35,000.

* Their Mission Statement: "Children's Miracle Network is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for 170 children's hospitals."

The Miss America Partnership

On January 23rd of this year it was announced that CMN is the new official platform of Miss America. A press release explained, “Each year the new Miss America, in addition to bringing awareness to her personal platform, will be an official goodwill ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network as she raises funds and awareness for both Children’s Miracle Network and the Miss America Organization. This partnership also extends to the woman competing at the local, state and national levels of the pageant, asking each contestant who participates to be responsible for raising funds on behalf of Children’s Miracle Network and the Miss America Organization.”

The Advantages and Disadvantages

Individual Community Service Platforms are one of the main things that set Miss America apart from other pageants; however, many people don’t fully understand what that means. By partnering with a well known not-for-profit organization like CMN, contestants’ philanthropic efforts gain credibility and continuity.

The Children’s Miracle Network is a fantastic organization which offers vital services to children in medical need. Also since many women already have platforms which work with mentoring children, awareness of various health issues, or general volunteerism, CMN is an easy extension of what many women are already doing. If there must be a national platform, CMN is a good, understandable choice.

CMN aside, the controversy lies in the idea of even having a national platform. This idea works for other pageant systems, but since Miss America has allowed for individual platforms, the transition will be difficult. I feel a variety of community service is good for anyone to do, whether you’re a pageant contestant or not. The question becomes, however, will work with CMN be looked upon higher by pageant judges than individual platform work? Some contestants have extremely well developed platforms that do not easily meld with CMN and this change is no doubt frustrating for them.

The greater frustration is financial. The main part of the partnership is that contestants must raise donations for CMN in order to compete. For EACH local pageant, a contestant must raise $100. Mind you, many contestants compete in countless locals each year. I have heard that 90% of that amount goes to CMN and 10% to the local program. Once a contestant wins a local title, she much raise an additional $250 in order to go to state. Each Miss State must raise even more in order to compete at Miss America.

These fundraising efforts are being called a “donation,” but some feel it is more like an “entry fee.” The three key things I used to tell prospective contestants about Miss America were: a. Talent b. Platform and c. No Entry fee. As a result of this new financial requirement many women are no longer competing, some volunteers are so opposed that they are no longer working with the program and other local programs worry they will not get enough contestants or be able to help their titleholder raise the additional $250 on top of all the other costs involved with putting on a pageant. To help contestants raise the money, each woman can set up a CMN fundraising website;
CLICK HERE to check them out.

There are so many questions left unanswered… How are contestants and local directors supposed to get support if they do not have a CMN hospital in their area? Will women who raise above and beyond the required amount be favored? Will this negatively affect the number of contestants?

In the fall I competed in Miss Ohio USA; the entry fee was about a grand and there were over 80 contestants! However, “free” Miss Ohio locals early in the pageant season scrambled to get 10 contestants. These figures assert that having a talent and doing community service are more difficult than raising money. BUT, money is the number one complaint about this new partnership. I suppose it’s all how you look at it, to some a few hundred dollars is no big deal, but for some contestants, that money means a months rent, or a couple college text books.

I understand the complaints and frustration; my platform would not have melded with CMN and fundraising is my least favorite thing to do. Contestants are also asked to get sponsorship for program book pages, many women get wardrobe sponsorship and friends and family are asked to attend several ticketed events during pageant week and support things like Miss Ohio’s Bowl-A-Thon. Is it still a “Scholarship Pageant” if it cost more than the contestant earns?

On the other hand, how can you complain about being asked to raise money for a wonderful organization like CMN?

I understand the incredible benefits of the Miss America program, and I now feel the same about the Children’s Miracle Network; only time will tell if they benefit as partners.

Attention Hometown Readers

Parkway High School senior and recently crowned Van Wert Peony Queen, Hannah Ford, has set up her Children’s Miracle Network webpage. Her current goal is $100 dollars so that she can compete in her first Miss Ohio preliminary, Miss Lake Festival.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Welcome to the Blogosphere… Rachel Maris!

Miss Ohio News has updated its information about the Miss Ohio contestants under its “Who Are They?” tab; it was on that site that I realized Miss Buckeye State, Rachel Maris started a blog.

Check it out:
Miss Buckeye State

After her win, I emailed Rachel a few questions, in hopes of publishing a more journalistic post about the pageant she won. Sadly that was promptly followed by the Virginia Tech tragedy: I took a blogging hiatus and never ended up writing what I had wanted to about the Sweeps pageant.

I really appreciate that she took the time to email me back, and so here is her Q & A:

You have won the last pageant you were eligible for; how many did you compete in?How did it feel to have all of your hard work realized?

Over the past three years I have competed in many preliminaries, placing in some and others not at all. With every pageant I learned something new which I tried to apply to the next. Winning Miss Buckeye State was a dream come true.

You are an amazing role model for perseverance, what made you keep going?

One of my favorite quotes kept me going whenever I felt like the odds were against me.. “Victory lies just past the point where most people quit.. never quit.”

What is your favorite part of competing or favorite phase of competition?

My favorite part of competing is that it makes me stay at the top of my game in all areas of competition. I get such a good feeling knowing that I’m prepared. I also love being surrounded by so many amazing young ladies whom all share the same dream.

What are you looking forward to the most about Miss Ohio ?

I’m looking forward to every minute being a new experience, and I want to embrace them and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Get to know Rachel even better by checking out her blog!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ohio International Photos

The Ohio International titleholders, above left to right: Alexandra Desantis, Kecia Pringle and Britany Jordan.

Above, the Miss contestants: Leslie Ondrey in white, Nicole Catazaro in periwinkle and Britany Jordan in black.
[Click to enlarge all photos.]

Above, Jackie Adams is named Third Runner-up.

Above left, Brittany Jordan is crowned Miss Ohio International; above on the right, Alexandra Desantis takes her first walk as Miss Teen Ohio International. On the left Kecia Pringle is crowned Mrs. Ohio International by her husband and Cay Stout.

On the left, I pose after the pageant with former Mrs. Ohio International and local MOA titleholder, Carrie Layne.

CLICK HERE for more photos. Note, most need red eye reduction and brightness adjustments.

(No need to purchase any of my photos from Webshotes, rather, click on the thumbnail you desire, when the larger photo appears click on the "view full size" icon right below it. The photo should then open in a seperate internet page; at that point right click and save it or copy it. Not that I'm a pro photographer, but if you repost it anywhere, do give me photo credit!)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Miss Ohio Community Service Weekend

**Scroll to the next post for Ohio International results!**

This weekend the Miss Ohio contestants were in Mansfield for a variety of activities! First, they met Friday night to get to know one another, specifically their roommates for Miss Ohio week, and chat with Miss Ohio Melanie Murphy. Then Saturday morning the contestants were split into groups and taken to various community service events around town. The weekend concluded with the Miss Ohio Bowl-a-Thon.

Huge thanks to Miss Ohio Official Photographer, Paul Krajnyak, for the following photos:

Above: Nanciann Strosnider, Miss Lake Erie, Andrea Andryscik, Miss North Coast, Melanie Murphy, Miss Ohio, Rachel Maris, Miss Buckeye State and Kasey Wilson, Miss Central Ohio entertained and helped serve lunch at Wedgewood Estates.

Above: Allison West, Miss Ohio Valley, Roberta Camp, Miss Maple City, Melanie Murphy, Miss Ohio, Christie Youssef, Miss Portsmouth and Jessica Barrett, Miss West Central Ohio entertained and visited at Dayspring.

Above: Erica Gelhaus, Miss Lake Festival, Sophia Davis, Miss Miami Valley, Melanie Murphy, Miss Ohio, Heather Lindsay, Miss Hamilton and Becky Minger, Miss Northwestern Ohio work with the kids at Friendly House.

Above: Jillian Dansko, Miss Greater Dayton, Elyse Healey, Miss Greater Cleveland, Melanie Murphy, Miss Ohio, Allie Krucek, Miss Clayland and Lauren Hogan, Miss All American City help at the Richland Newhope Special Olympics.

Above: Lauren Shatlock, Miss Stark County, Emily Cousino, Miss Mansfield, Melanie Murphy, Miss Ohio, Kristen Haas, Miss Maumee Valley and Alyssa Hanson, Miss Heart of Ohio visit Elmcroft Assisted Living.

More photos will be coming soon to Paul’s sites, Miss Ohio News and PKS Innovations.
Also, check out the contestant's blogs listed on the sidebar for their photos and commentary.