Thursday, July 31, 2014

Keep the Faith

Hello friends!! 

I’m so sorry I haven’t posted a blog yet during my first six weeks on the job as Miss Wisconsin! To fill you in briefly, I’ve been zig-zagging through the state making appearances throughout Wisconsin, working with the Citgo Fueling Good Campaign, planning the Children’s Miracle Network “Miracle Monday” set for August 11th, working on my personal platform “Tyler’s Legacy: The Impact of Substance Abuse on the Family,” planning and prepping for the 2015 Miss America Pageant coming up this September, and right now I’m in Orlando, FL cheering on your Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen 2014, Elise O’Connell! My first blog was inspired by the intelligent and gifted Miss Elise and has everything to do with having faith.

People who know me well know that I’m not one to post things about my personal faith. This particular post, however, felt appropriate. Last night I spent an hour on the phone with Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen 2014 Elise O’Connell. Elise is in the middle of her journey in Orlando, FL competing for the title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2015. We talked about feelings of pressure from within and from others, exhaustion, anxiety, excitement, and staying focused. One thing in particular that we discussed is having faith, so I shared my story of faith from the 2014 Miss Wisconsin pageant.

I was feeling a tremendous amount of pressure competing for Miss Wisconsin once more, having been Miss Wisconsin 2011 as the successor to Laura Kaeppeler (Fleiss), Miss America 2012. It was my last shot at earning the title and fulfilling my dream of representing my home state at the Miss America Pageant. I was all set to compete in the Preliminary On-Stage Question portion of the competition and I was struggling backstage to maintain my focus and positive mindset. So I prayed. I prayed for peace and calm to wash over me, I prayed for the right words to come, and I prayed that I would find faith in knowing I was exactly where I was meant to be.

I stepped out onto the stage, as I had a hundred times before, and I knew I had to go for it. Don’t hold back, let go and let it rip. I pulled my question out of the fishbowl and the emcee asked, “What is your definition of faith?” I can’t tell you exactly what my answer was. I’d have to look back at the video. I do know I spoke about faith being a personal journey and is a matter of finding empowerment from within one’s own heart or through a higher power. “Faith” became my theme for the rest of that week and reminiscing the experience helps me maintain focus and a positive energy during the phenomenal rollercoaster ride I’m experiencing so far as Miss Wisconsin 2014.

This morning I woke up thinking about Elise and the other 52 talented and driven Teen contestants. I pray for each and every one of them to let peace and calm wash over them and to find faith in knowing they are exactly where they are meant to be. We are all on this journey for a higher purpose. We may never know the impact we have on those we encounter, but if we can maintain faith in knowing the power we hold within, we will fulfill our individual dreams and leave a lasting legacy for those who follow in our footsteps.

Until next time, keep the faith!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hello Wisconsin!

Thank youI find myself saying these two words more often since being blessed with the title of Miss Wisconsin 2012 as I am so humbled, grateful and honored to represent you this year!

These two words simply do not describe the gratitude I feel towards the army of angels that support not only me, but also the Miss America Organization in general. I recently crowned the new Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest, Ellen Poeschel and celebrated with friends, family and Miss Wisconsin fans at my homecoming celebration. I attempted to properly thank all of those who had a part in making this dream come true and found myself so overcome with emotion, that I practically forgot everything I had prepared. In that moment, I was surrounded by the love and support of fellow Wisconsinites, bound together by a common ambition: to improve the lives of others and make a difference in this world. And, it was in that moment before I took the stage that it finally hit me, I am Miss Wisconsin.

It’s only taken six weeks to actually sink in (sarcasm) and I hope to fill you in on what I’ve been up to through this blog entry! Please look to this blog to stay connected to my journey this year. My goal is to take you along on this adventure – so buckle up and enjoy the ride ‘cause here we go!

The morning after the pageant was filled with interviews with media from across the state. I received the Miss Wisconsin car or as Kimberly Sawyer, Miss Wisconsin 2010 calls it, the “Miss Wis mobile”. After Raeanna Johnson, Miss Wisconsin 2011 handed over the keys, it was time to drive home to prepare for the following appearances!

“ Fueling Good” with Citgo!

In the later part of June and early July, I had the honor of promoting Citgo’s Fueling Good campaign at several local Citgo markets throughout the Racine area. This fundraising program gives thousands of dollars back to communities across the country.  Citgo gave away free coffee and its famous Racine Kringle to anyone who donated money to the “Be a Star” fundraiser benefiting the Racine County Food Bank.

Myself and volunteers of the Racine County Food Bank, interacted with customers and encouraged community members to support this worthy cause. It was so special for me to begin my first appearances as Miss Wisconsin advocating for food pantry support as this is an issue I am very familiar with in promoting my platform, Take a Healthy Bite out of Childhood Hunger. 



Donations from this fundraiser were presented at a fireworks display following the Racine, 4th of July parade. The sweltering 100-degree weather didn’t stop community members of Racine from celebrating our nations birthday. The parade route was filled with enthusiastic and welcoming people. I was joined by local royalty, Miss Southern Lakes 2012, Maggie Hill and Miss Racine, Paula Kuiper; two extraordinary representatives!


To learn more about the Feuling Good program visit

Girly Stuff: Make-up, Hair, Photo Sessions and Wardrobe 

Just days after the Miss Wisconsin pageant I visited the one and only Tom Preston of “The Look” in Racine before my first official photo shoot with Clayton Portriats! Tom has been the dedicated styling sponsor of Miss Wisconsin for many years and I am so lucky to work with him. He is so talented and warm-hearted, thank you for everything Tom!

The photo session with Dennis Clayton at Clayton Portraits in Madison was a blast! Special thanks to Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen, Maddie Morgan for bringing the entire produce department to my photo shoot! You made my vision for the picture with my healthy cupboard possible. Thank you so much!


Thanks also to Ann Stawski! The day would not have been successful without your styling expertise and guidance. Thanks a million!

To view more photos from my session with Clayton portraits, check out the link to his blog below. Thank you Dennis for giving your time and talent to the Miss Wisconsin Organization!!

Maddie and I had the pleasure of making our first trip to Bridal Elegance, Miss Wisconsin’s fantastic and generous wardrobe sponsor. This store is massive; I would find it nearly impossible for anyone to walk out empty handed. They have an entire “pageant wing” full of beautiful dresses. Maddie and I were like kids in a candy shop! I am so thankful to Bridal Elegance for helping us look fabulous this year! 

I feel so lucky to experience this journey with Maddie. She is an extraordinary young woman with a very promising future ahead of her. She is kind, talented and eloquent and I know that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship for us. Her family has opened their hearts and home to me without question. Already, I genuinely feel like family. Thank you for being so supportive!

Touring Wisconsin on the Parade Route!

It’s so fun to learn the heritage, personality and values of communities such as Oregon, New Lisbon, Mishicot, and Portage on the parade route. I love to see how each town’s celebration allows for the pride residents feel for their city to shine. The Portage parade was extra special because I had the honor of being joined by Miss Heart of Wisconsin, Katie Williams and Wisconsin’s own MISS AMERICA, Laura Kaeppeler! The people of Portage were so welcoming and we had a blast interacting with other parade enthusiasts like the Portage volunteer fire department!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

1 Month Down!!

Hi friends! Can you believe it is August already? Time has surely flown by! Here's a peek into some of my adventures during my first month as Miss Wis!

The morning after Miss Wisconsin, I had an interview with The Northwestern and met with Jeanne, Michael and Kim learning more about my new role, the rules and what to expect in the very near future. Kim was such an amazing Miss Wisconsin, I surely have HUGE shoes to fill!! Love you Kim!

After spending a few days "recovering" at home, I was off to Portage to participate in their 4th of July Parade and Festival. Here, I had the honor to meet The Badger Band! They were a talented, fun and engaging group of musicians. Having been in numerous choral ensembles at Carthage, it was fun to exchange stories of traveling on tours, learn that the makeup of actual music majors in their ensemble is only 2% and even get surrounded/serenaded by the brass section as they played their famous song, "Hey baby, I want to know if you will you be my girl!?" :) This group of talented musicians spend a lot of the time on the road as they are asked to play for festivals, graduation parties and even weddings during the summer and their off season.

This was the first man I met as Miss Wisconsin. He was so cute, complimentary and loved to talk! After meeting him, I was sure this was bound to be an amazing year!

Next, I was off to Crazy J's Campground in Marion where I spent time with these little princesses at a Princess Party! These girls were a delight to spend the day with. They were fun, smart and are guaranteed to have bright futures. We enjoyed the afternoon by participating in arts and crafts, socializing and I even got to sing for the girls.

This picture is with my favorite little princess, Zoey. She was the absolute sweetest little 5 year old, who truly touched a place in my heart. I was amazed at how smart she was, the amount of curious questions she had for me, and the love you could see in her eyes.

Then it was off to Columbus for what was undoubtedly the largest 4th of July Parade in Wisconsin! The parade lineup and actual parade totaled 3.5 hours! I had the exciting pleasure to share the day with Annie, Miss Wisconsin's Outsanding Teen. Since we had not seen eachother since the pageant, we had a great time catching up and talk exciting details of MAOT national competition!!

Off to Fond du Lac for a Car/Bike Show Fundraiser at the Open Road Harley-Davidson. This event was a dual event in that it showcased Harley-Davidson motorcylces and Mustang cars. It was so fun to see old, new and rebuilt Mustang models and there were even Mustang airplanes that were flown in from EAA to specifically attend this event. I was able to sign autographs, meet and greet an incredible amount of people, and speak about my platform.

Co-owner Lori was extremely welcoming, I truly felt a part of their tight-knit family. It was heart warming to see Lori call customers by name and ask how their families were doing. I could tell this was a community of truly caring individuals. However, I was curious to ask Lori if her customers mind Lori's golden retriever roaming around the store. Lori laughted and said "no, customers love it!" Her dog hates being home alone, so she brings him to work with her! So cute!

Off to...Kenosha! for my next appearance. That's right, my first appearance in my home town! I participated in The 31st World Congress of Poets. This was a gathering celebrating poetry and welcoming prominent women in Kenosha to speak on topics regarding "The Freedom to Pursue Work, Education, Family and Happiness. I spoke on "The Freedom to Pursue Happiness" and at a very joyous time in my life, this was very fitting. However, I mentioned that our happiness does not come from earthly pleasures or deeds, rather, our happiness should and does come from the Lord. Our happiness can be celebrated in trusting that God has lead us to do His will on earth, and while that causes happiness in our life, it also pleases Him.

It was then off to West Salem for a Youth Princess Program. I got to spend the evening with junior princesses, but also Miss Seven Rivers Raeanna Johnson and Miss Seven Rivers Outstanding Teen, Jenna Flick! The three of us had an awesome time together, and truly enjoyed making a positive impact on these adorable little ladies! We started the evening with games and arts and crafts, then had a fashion show, and ended the night with Raeanna, Jenna and myself speaking to the girls. Raeanna talked about empowerment, Jenna discussed bullying and I talked about positive self-esteem and confidence. This group of little princesses were absolutely adorable and are sure to have bright futures!!

Then, for a weekend my job shifted from Miss Wisconsin to Maid of Honor! M lifelong best friend, Michele got married July 22. It was beautiful, magical and full of unforgettable, unconditional love. Michele was an absolutely stunning bride - Here's a picture from the big day!

After a fun wedding weekend, it was off to Mishicot for their annual Riverfest Festival/Parade. This event was especially touching because of the incredible amount of love and support I was shown. Mishicot may be a small town, but it is populated by some of the most sincere and caring individuals I have ever met.

I had to take a picture with these mascots because one of them was named Smokey. For those of you who don't already know, I am the proud mom to a 1 year old Shih Tsu/Maltese named Smokey. This is his first appearance in this blog, but I'm sure he will appear many more times before the years end! He is the love of my life! :)

I was happy to be in my hometown of Kenosha for the next appearance! I spent the morning and afternoon at the Kenosha HarborMarket. Here I was able to meet and greet, sign autographs and sing for the wonderful people of Kenosha! I was humbly welcomed by many, and was beyond proud to represent my great city!

Up next, I had the privilege to share the stage with my dear friend, Miss Kenosha Ashley Dennis at The Kenosha Relay for Life! Ashley was honored as being an ambassador to the city, sang the National Anthem and a few inspirational songs during the survivor lap. As a lifelong resident of Kenosha, and yearly attendee of the Relay, I sang one of my absolute favorite songs, "Blessings" by Laura Story during the survivor lap for many of my family members who suffer from cancer and especially my Grandpa, who passed away from prostate cancer. It was an inspirational night for all who attended, full of celebration for those who have overcome this disease and immense hope for a cure for those who are living with cancer.

This has been the most incredible month of my life! I have seen God work in my life in ways I've never imagined possible, and I truly believe I have been led to this job to make a difference and make a mark in this world, especially through helping COIP. (children of incarcerated parents) I have been humbled by the overwhelming amount of love, support, prayers and guidance I have received and can only thank you for future support. In the month of August, I look forward to traveling to Orlando to cheer for Annie at MAOT as well as meet The Miss America Class of 2012!

Until next time, I will leave you with Psalm 37: 4-6 - Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

With love and blessings,