You may remember last year our family's story was on ABC Nightline. A woman from Montana, Hope Jackson, had been pretending to be my mom - using Christi's pictures and story - to scam famous people including Brad Paisley, Melissa Gilbert, and many others. She went to jail for her crimes. Well, sadly, the sweet and talented Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders were also scammed. They know that I am cheerleader now and wear the famed white boots and do kick-lines on the football field. Therefore, I have been invited, along with my family to attend their private rehearsal the evening before an upcoming game. We will also get a tour of AT&T Stadium and be treated to dinner with the dedicated and hard-working detective mom worked with on the case. The following day we will get to go to the football game! We are all very excited; however, we wish Christi would be with us in person making the trip! We miss her every day!!
While I'm sad that another football season, and precious time spent dancing and cheering with my friends, is soon coming to an end, I am very grateful to have had this wonderful opportunity! Last night we performed all of our flag and dance routines to a packed-gymnasim. We danced for 90 minutes straight! It was exhausting and exhilarating! It's awesome that our school is so supportive of our 156 member band & dance team!
I was happy to volunteer with my "sister-queens" today at the "Making Strides against Breast Cancer" 5K walk in Mansfield. There were hundreds in attendance and it was an inspiring opportunity to unite together and honor breast cancer survivors and to raise awareness about breast cancer. I enjoyed talking with everyone and hearing their stories.
Friday Nights have been magical again this year! I'm very blessed to have made Varsity cheerleading and also to have earned a spot on our school's flag & dance team. I'll admit, it's a little hectic running and changing uniforms at halftime, but it's been a wonderful fall being with friends and making great memories!
I'd been thinking about various ways to make money so that I could purchase a car after I get my driver's license in February. After church today, my grandma gave me a present to open. I was confused when I saw some car keys. Imagine my shock when I realized she was giving me her old car because she got a new one! I am thrilled! Plus, it's nice to think of the fact that Christi and I used to ride in the back of it. I am so appreciative!
Today I made a presentation about Childhood Cancer to students at Heidelberg University. I partnered with KDP, a college student organization, and held a lemonade stand with all donations going to Alex's Lemonade Stand Fund, a nonprofit for childhood cancer research. Today's 10th annual Christi Thomas memorial stand raised a record $1,100! Heidelberg's lemonade stands started in 2004 in honor of my sister, Christi, who died of childhood cancer in 2006.
Homecoming for my high school was so much fun again this year! I loved all of the activities building up to it: dress up days, Powder Puff football, Clash of the Classes and the Pep Rally. I went with a friend to the dance and we had a great time. His parents took us out for some "silly photos". Of course I had to have a picture with my horse too! It was great to go out to dinner and to the dance with a bunch of my friends. I'm already looking forward to next year's homecoming!
A friend invited me to go with him to Seneca East's High School Homecoming. We used to go to the same school when we were in elementary school. I had a great time going to the "Olive Garden" and then to the school for the dance. I was happy to see many people I knew! We had a great time dancing!
Our Miss Mansfield Director, Laura Russell, arranged for her current titleholders to go around Mansfield thanking all of the businesses who donate to the pageant. I had a ball with Jenna and Erin, my sister queens. We expressed our thanks to the donors and had a lot of fun with our chaperone who drove us all over Mansfield. Thanks, everyone!
A love for theater and a desire to travel brought us to Stratford, Canada for their exuberant theatre festival. We saw three Broadway quality shows during our trip; Man of la Mancha, Crazy for You and King Lear. I've always wanted to see Shakesphere preformed live and King Lear ended up being my favorite of the three shows we saw. The Festival Theatre itself is amazing! It was my first time with a thrust stage (where the stage is 'thrust' into the center of the audience) and I understand why it's every story teller's dream - the action is at your fingertips, making it seem like you're part of the story. The entire city of Stratford pulses with the festival vibe. We'd have coffee and actors from last night's show would be dining behind us. It was amazing! In addition, performers of all sorts adorned the corners and filled the streets. It's a city that could be explored every summer with the same amount of intrigue. I hope to get back there soon!
Meet Toby, my brilliant quarter-horse partner! This little paint can do just about anything. This year at the fair, we competed in Western, English, Trail, Showmanship, Contesting and Versatility events. On top of being multi-talented, Toby is very well-mannered. When little kids want to pet a horse, I'm always glad to take them to Toby because I'm confident he'll be a good boy. We did better than I ever expected, earning Western Horsemanship Reserve Champion and Overall Western High Point Reserve Champion. The week sparked some new things for us to master next year. I find I never stop learning about horses.
One can never stop dancing! This summer I joined area dancers from several studios for two weeks of ballet. We had a full class every day which was especially helpful for gaining flexibility. The last day our reward was choreography and we relished the erie contemporary ballet piece. I love how summer allows us to be busy with all the things we love, and being a part of summer ballet was just that enriching.
It was my first trip to Mackinaw- a city and island famed for its fudge shops! While in Michigan, with my friend, we rode our bikes, swam in the pool, went go-karting, played putt-putt and chatted incessantly. It was great to be a part of my friend's family vacation. I am so blessed!
As teen contestants, we may only compete one day, but the entire week is full of festivities and it is so much fun! Each day we went to rehearsal to perfect our production number- a dance to "Surf's Up" from Disney's Teen Beach Movie. Building on that theme, we danced with beach balls. Back stage, we had to be told a few times to stop goofing around with the beach balls, haha. Friday brought the style show and a great audience. We couldn't help but smile as the crowd cheered and called our names out while we were on the runway. Each night the teens sat together in the balcony and enthusiastically supported the Miss Ohio contestants through preliminaries and finals night. At the end of the week, we took to the dance floor at the coronation ball for the new Miss Ohio. Congratulations to Mackenzie Bart, our new Miss Ohio. She will represent us well at the Miss America pageant in September.
The state pageant is spectacular. Many girls want to discover their self-empowerement. This program has done that for me. There are no words to truly describe the incredible feelings of self accomplishment we experience when we're on that stage. We know we've worked hard and it feels like we can do anything. At the end of the night, I didn't make the top five as I had hoped, but I've grown more because of competing. I realized the magnificent role confidence and determination play in everything we do, and that even when we don't win, there's still an audience full of people who love you waiting to support you once you're off the stage too. So for anyone looking to discover more about themselves, or to stretch their limits, this pageant is a phenomenal way to begin.
Without missing a beat, the 2014 Miss Ohio contestants ventured into the community to sign autographs and talk with the crowds. We also rode the historic carrousel where I learned carrousel horses won't go faster if you ask with typical horse cues - lol! A now understandably extinct perk to being Miss Mansfield was a trip to Mansfield, England. Though we no longer go abroad, I had the pleasure of introducing myself to Miss Mansfield and Sherwood Forrest. It's exciting to have a British sister queen around for the week!
The Miss Ohio Parade is a working example of community, family, contestants and friends uniting for a positive cause. My entourage was marked with a field of yellow Alex's Lemonade Stand shirts. It was a diverse group with dogs, tumblers (these gals were throwing back tucks on the concrete- wow!), a childhood cancer survivor, relatives and adorable kids. While on the route, my goal was to make the crowd glad they came and happy with their hometown girl. There's something unique about all appearances. During this appearance, a man signed "hello" to me. I recognized it as sign language and was able to sign a greeting back. I was glad to be able to connect in that way. Thank you Mansfield for supporting us all this week! What a spectacular city!
It was another jam-packed week, but I love being busy! The week was filled with countless hours of rehearsals at one of my favorite places in our little city - the Ritz, our historic theater. I performed in four routines this year and our family awarded memorial scholarships to all eight of the graduating Seniors. They all had fabulous applications and had danced with Christi. Now that our performances are over, I'm thankful to have had a wonderful year dancing with my awesome friends and working with dedicated, caring and loving teachers.
It was the perfect summer afternoon for an outdoor send-off party for our upcoming trip to Miss Ohio! I was happy to see my "sister queens" (Erin & Jenna) and my pageant director, Laura. The food was wonderful and it was great fun to speak with the attendees and to catch up with everyone. The next time we will be together will be for Miss Ohio week! I'm super excited! Thanks to the Miss Mansfield volunteers for putting together another wonderful event!
Thank you, Ballreich for contacting me wanting to donate their delicious chips to all of the Miss Ohio and teen contestants! I created little "goodie bags" with the chips including a can of Country Time lemonade and some literature about Alex's Lemonade Stand. Thanks, Ballreich's! I'm proud to be from Tiffin!