Arriving in Topeka around 1:30pm on Friday, I was greeted just inside the hotel doors with a goodie bag and folder with my weekend agenda. All the girls were super sweet and I saw Russell Stover turtles in the bag - it was going to be a good day! After everyone got checked in, all three of us contestants as well as many of the steering committee members met and we got to hear about the pageant itself, Jenny's journey over this past month, and learned a little about one another. Friday evening, we all went out to eat at Los Charros and got to watch a little of the KU/Baylor game.
Early Saturday morning, we all met to eat breakfast and started in with our first informative session of the day, Advocacy. I don't have a lot of experience with issue so meeting Stephanie and how passionate she was about being an advocate really opened my eyes. Forgive my language, but she is a bad ass chick who is NOT afraid to speak her mind!
After the Advocacy session came our first judging session, and lucky me - I was chosen to go first. I wasn't too nervous, but had no clue what they would ask. We had fifteen minutes with the judges and in those fifteen minutes, I was asked about my story, my accomplishments since my accident, my thoughts on certain issues, and many other things I do not remember. After my interview, Jessica and Shanell each had their turn with the panel and we had a little downtime to go work on our platform speech.
After lunch we had began our second round of interviews with the judges. This time around, they asked questions a bit more specific to me and what not. I remember certain questions such as "What would you do if you won a 10 million dollar library?", "Who is in our Kansas legislature?" (Please forgive me Moran and Roberts, the guy I could think of was Mr. Garrett Love himself), and my final question with the judges were, "If you could give your platform in speech, what would it be?"
The rest of the day was filled with more informative sessions. We had Working with the Media where I learned the tricks of the trade to give a good interview and Disability Pride where I learned to never be ashamed of myself or my disability. In our Self Defense session, I learned the best way to fend off an attacker was to run them over and in the Health and Fitness session, I got some great cardio tips.
We ended Saturday with a pizza party and some games in Jenny's suite.
Sunday came around a little too early, but thankfully we didn't have a whole lot on our agenda. This morning we practiced how the ceremony would go and then were sent to start primping for the pageant. Around 1:30, us girls met our escorts for the ceremony. (I have to send a huge shootout to Anthony Davis, former Chiefs and Ravens player, for being my escort, helping me up the ramp, and sweating bullets behind me throughout the whole ceremony). The ceremony promptly started at 2pm and we were off! I was the first to present my platform, Definitions - Empowering Youth to Define Themselves, on stage and answer my two questions. Shanell and Jessica followed suit and then we were escorted back off stage to watch a slideshow and hear from the key note speaker Angel. Jenny's presentation was next and then the news was announced. When I heard my name announced, I was absolutely in shock - I was sure one of the other girls had it...I then made it back to the center of the stage where I received my crown, sash, plaque, and flowers. I said my Thank You's and then got lots of pictures in! Here are just a few!!
|Receiving my Sash|
|My escort, Anthony Davis|
|The Steering Committee|
It was an extremely long weekend, but it was worth it. I'm still in shock, but I'm really excited to be given this opportunity to travel and speak about my platform!