Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Game Day

Today I woke up with some butterflies in my stomach and a feeling of anticipation in my bones. It’s Tuesday the 28th and this only means one thing, it’s game day!
It has been a little over six years since I stepped on that volleyball court in my uniform, but the feelings never change. The desire and determination to play the best game possible is still in me and the want of a “W” is immense.
I am blessed to have the opportunity to assist in coaching 13 young, amazing women this season. They have been working their butts off to prepare for this day and I have all the confidence in the world that they will do well!
Now the only thing standing in my way from now until game time is work, but don’t tell my boss that my mind may be on rotations and cover-ups instead of spreadsheets and accounts!
Good luck tonight Lady Aces!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

What a Week!

I thought things might slow down a bit when we got home from Rhode Island and I could catch up on some sleep, but I am here to report that although I got to sleep in last weekend, my goal has not been fulfilled.

I really can’t complain though because it has been an absolutely great week so far! What all has happened you ask? Well let me tell you!

I’ll spare you the details about Monday – it was a normal, uneventful day. Tuesday was shaping up to be just like Monday, until I got a text from one of my best friends Tamren. Tamren and I go way back (see TK) and so you can imagine what kind of thoughts were going through my head when she wrote and told me she needed to talk to me ASAP. I was worried, frightened, and curious all the same time – I had no clue what she needed to talk to me about.  When I called her at work, she shocked me all right, but not with any of the thoughts running through my mind (thank goodness)!

After I posted my Letters from Home blog, unbeknownst to me, Tamren contacted Bill Snyder’s assistant and referenced my blog. After a few weeks with no response, Coach Snyder’s assistant returned Tamren’s email. Coach Snyder had read my blog and wanted to have me come up to Manhattan for one of the games. When Tamren told me this I was absolutely shocked…someone could have literally picked my jaw up off my desk, I was that shocked. We then talked of what game would work out best and because it was nearing the end of the day, Tamren said she’d just go down to his office on Wednesday.

Wednesday rolls around and mid-morning, I receive a phone call from Tamren. She had just left Coach Snyder’s office and said we were set; I am Manhattan-bound on September 14th to hang out with some great friends, meet an amazing coach, and see some great football! All of the details still need to be worked out, but I absolutely cannot wait and I absolutely cannot thank Tamren enough for giving such an amazing opportunity!

On Wednesday night, I experienced a first! Since my accident, I have not ever been to a chiropractor who would manipulate my back and neck…that is until now! Numerous of my friends and co-workers go to Koehn and Harp Family Chiropractic and have said amazing things about them, but I was never sure if they would touch me. After a few discussions awhile ago, I was told to make an appointment; Shanda would love to see what she could do for me. That was all I needed – I made my appointment…Wednesday night. It was fabulous – Shanda was absolutely amazing…she was extremely informative, very receptive, and completely trustworthy. I am so excited to see what she may be able to help with and I can’t wait for my follow-up next week!

Although nothing can beat my Wednesday, I still had a pretty good Thursday. Work was good, nothing too exciting, but tonight we had our volleyball scrimmage. The girls did really well and we saw some great things, but we still have a few things to work on before our first set of matches on Tuesday.

I’m not certain what tomorrow will bring, but nothing can bring me down from the high’s I’ve experienced this week…plus it’s Friday – there’s no such thing as a bad Friday!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Table of 10

It has been a crazy week so far, trying to get caught up on things here at home and starting volleyball, but I finally found a little bit of time to blog! I know I have thanked all of you numerous times throughout this past week, but I must take some time to especially thank nine individuals.

The Evans Table
Uncle Rick, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Jack, Dad
These nine individuals were able to travel 3,000+ miles across the country to see me say a two-minute speech and look pretty in a gown. These nine individuals are my Uncle Jack and Aunt Connie, Uncle Rick and Aunt Sue, my Aunt Nancy, my Dad, and last but certainly not least, Scott, Megan, and Eli.

Scott, Megan, and Eli
Although I didn’t spend a lot of time with them, I was so glad they were all able to come and enjoy what all Providence had to offer! I know they enjoyed going to Newport, numerous tours, and definitely the seafood! Scott, Megan, and Eli even took a small trip to Cape Cod and hit up a Red Sox game!

Uncle Rick and Aunt Sue
I have to say that I think I had the most people travel such a long distance to come see the pageant. When I was trying to find our dinner table for Speech Night, I went up to the girls at the door and said, “Emily Evans, Kansas,” (as if they didn’t already know who I was) and Autumn replied, “Oh…the table of 10!” as she handed me our card.

Uncle Jack and Aunt Connie
I am truly blessed to have such loving family and friends and being able to celebrate such an amazing experience with nine of those who mean the most to be was unbelievable! Thank you to those nine for sticking out early morning flights, a couple of delays, and many, many miles of highway! 

Aunt Nancy
Oh, and I cannot forget to thank the woman who is my traveling partner, my organizer/assistant, my rock, and my best friend...my mom! I would not be where I am without her!!

Mom and Dad

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Crowns, Sashes, and Red Lips

As I sit waiting in the airport to begin our journey back home to the great state of Kansas, I thought it would be the perfect time to blog about yesterday’s activities.

Heidi, Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky 
After a morning of ceremony practice and getting all beautified, I was set and ready for the evening’s activities. As I promptly arrived at 3:30pm, we were all lined up backstage and finally about 4:15pm the introductions began.

Some of the girls before the pageant 
One by one each of us 28 states made our way onto the stage to introduce ourselves and state our platforms. The MC did not waste anytime and jumped right into announcing the Top 5. Indiana was called first, followed by North Carolina, and then California, Michigan, and Texas. They each were asked their two on-stage questions, one light-hearted one and one serious.  The girls answered them wonderfully and on a few I thought to myself, “Gosh, I’m glad I didn’t have to answer that one!”

Michele, Ms. Wheelchair Alabama
The deliberation began after the questions, but while the officials were tallying the votes, the MC preceded to announce the winners of the other awards and special recognition, all eight of them. I was blessed and honored to be recognized with the Mind, Body, and Spirit Award. It is new to the pageant this year, being created just this past week, and is selected by the judges and awarded to the woman who is empowered to best integrate mind, body, and spirit.

After all of the other awards, it was time to announce the titleholder! After announcing the second, third, and fourth runner-ups, it was down to Kristian Champion, Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina, and Mariah Kilborne, Ms. Wheelchair Texas.

Top 5 
Each of the finalists are amazing women with such strong voices who definitely have great platforms, but a decision had to be made, and Ms. Texas became the newest Ms. Wheelchair America titleholder!

I know within my heart that Mariah will do an amazing job as Ms. Wheelchair America. She definitely deserved the title!

Carrie, my State Coordinator, and I
This week has been crazy hectic, but so much fun. It was a chance of a lifetime and I do not regret anything whatsoever! I met 28 amazing women who I can now call lifelong friends and have enjoyed every single minute!

Connor and I
Although I loved Rhode Island, I was glad to step into the Kansas heat this afternoon and was overjoyed when we pulled into Bucklin! Now reality begins again and I’ll be off to work tomorrow.

Thank you once again for the overwhelming love, support, and prayers. Like I’ve said numerous times, it means the world to me and without you all I wouldn’t be who and where I am today!

Heidi and I showing off our lips!
(PS - Notice the bold red lips...when my dad first saw me he said, "Are you sure you need that?" It was the most makeup I think I've ever worn in my life, but I have to admit, I felt pretty fierce with those lips!)

Friday, August 10, 2012


Thank goodness – the speeches are over! It was a fairly nerve-wracking day…we had a trade show in the morning, a few workshops this afternoon, and of course the speeches this evening.

Before I tell you about tonight, I’ll share Thursday’s activities!  It was another day full of workshops, and let me tell you, we had some great workshops! However, the big event yesterday was the pajama party. I know what you’re thinking…why in the world would grown women be having a pajama party? Well because they wanted to, but it wasn’t just any regular pajama party…there was a DJ, 10 or so stylists to do hair and nails, a massage booth, and last but not least…we had Stacey Schieffelin! Stacey is formerly a Ford Agency model, but now is the founder and creator of YBF Cosmetics. Her products are all over HSN and she is all about women empowerment!

Pajama Party Group
Carrie, my State Coordinator. and I
After getting my nails done, my eyebrows penciled in by Stacey, and a quick massage, I hit the hay a bit earlier than everyone who danced the night away!

Stacey and I
Now onto today! Like I said earlier, we had workshops and a trade show, but the big event was the speeches! We all gathered a little before 5pm to head down to the ballroom for supper and the speech presentation. I was a ball of nerves, but as soon as we got downstairs and began eating, I became much more at ease. (Must have been all that Evans charm at our table!) After dessert and coffee, the speeches began in reverse alphabetical order. Amy Bleile, Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, was up first and this meant I was about halfway through!

After numerous speeches, I got called to line up and the nerves began to flutter a bit! Heidi McKenzie, Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky, put me in my place, made a few jokes, and then we were ready to roll!

On Stage
When Kentucky finished, I took a deep breathe and made my way onto the stage where I began my platform speech, “Empowering Youth to Define Themselves”. Despite the bright lights and the worry about time, I made my presentation without hesitation and to be honest and a little selfish, I was pretty proud of myself.

The Evans Table
The numbers from our judging sessions and tonight’s sessions will be tallied tonight. The top five scores will be announced tomorrow during the Crowning Ceremony at 4pm. The top five will then receive two onstage questions and after adding those scores to the previously tallied ones, Ms. Wheelchair America 2013 will be named.

This week has flown by and no matter what the results are for tomorrow, I am so glad I had the chance to participate and meet all these amazing women. It has definitely been a week of a lifetime!

Mom and Dad
Once again, I have to thank you all for the continued love and support throughout this journey. It means the world to me and I am truly blessed!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Halfway Point

I absolutely cannot believe it is Wednesday already! This week is flying by and before I know it, it will be Sunday and I’ll be on my way home!

For the next couple of days, we have a fairly repetitious schedule full of workshops and judging interviews! I began my day with the workshop “Disability Heritage”. Carrie, my State Coordinator, was the presenter and she did an amazing job teaching us about the history and evolution of disability rights. However, about midway through her presentation I was pulled out for my first interview session.

There are five judges this year, who come from around the country, to help select the next Ms. Wheelchair America. Of course I was a tad bit nervous (who wouldn’t be), but I like to approach it like it is now or never and I’m just having a conversation with a few people. Once I got in the room, it was all good and I was at ease. Today’s judging session was only five minutes long and let me tell you, it went by quick!! I would love to tell you some of the questions they asked, but unfortunately I am unable to do so as of right now!

After my judging session, I headed back downstairs to the workshops. “Social Media” was next and I was interested what Drew had to say. He covered a bit about Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but what he talked about most was creating or maintaining a blog. I felt one step ahead of the game!!

Lunch was next on the schedule and it was good, but after having chicken the past three days for at least one meal this girl is craving beef! Remember the old Wendy’s commercial with the older lady, I find myself asking the same question, “Where’s the beef?”

Nonetheless, the afternoon sessions were “How Language Impacts our Behavior” and “What it’s like to be Ms. Wheelchair America”. I really, really enjoyed the language workshop. Ida, the presenter is an absolutely amazing woman who is extremely articulate and a great spokeswoman.

What it is like to be Ms. Wheelchair America was also extremely interesting – learning a bit about the traveling, the appearances, funding, and of course all of the responsibilities!

It was a good full day…tomorrow will be similar, but my judging session is bright and early. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kids, Clams, and Self-Defense

It’s only day two, but I am exhausted already! Now this may be the result of a sleepless night, an early morning and a long day…but I think I will be sleeping like a log tonight!

This morning started out with breakfast, which was followed by our Mentoring Session – which was the absolute best part of my day. I was grouped up with Ms. Illinois and Ms. Indiana, and we also had two young men – Jonathan and Christopher, who by the way were AMAZING artists. As a group we had to come up with a character with a background story and numerous details about her personality, style, family, etc. After we developed our character, Amber Kimley, we had to sketch her with her best friend. Numerous of the other groups chose skits or sang a song to portray their character, but all in all it was a great experience and the kids were extremely talented!

Our Mentoring Group
The Whole Group
After our mentoring session, we headed down the huge hill outside our hotel to the park in front of the Capitol Building for our group photo. Do you know how hard it is to get a picture of 28 women in wheelchairs in one photo? It’s difficult!!

We then headed to Fire and Ice for lunch, which was absolutely delicious, but extremely chaotic!! After lunch, we made the trek up the hill once again and began in on our afternoon session of self-defense. It was eye opening to see some of the tactics they suggested for when confronted with someone who makes you uncomfortable and such.

Last pageant event of the day was the clambake! I was looking forward to this portion of the day so much because I absolutely love seafood and there isn’t a better place to get seafood than on the East Coast! It was just as delicious as I had expected it to be!

Supper with Kentucky, Virginia, and DC
While at supper tonight, our first visitors arrived! Scott, Megan, and Eli showed up around 6:3pm and after getting settled, they headed to grab some food and we all met up afterward and caught up a little bit, talking of our plans/schedules for the rest of the week! I am so glad they were able to make the trip and are able to share this momentous week with me!

Eli and I
I cannot thank you all enough for all of the support! All of the messages on Facebook and my blog are remarkable. You all truly amaze me, plus your love, support, and prayers mean the word to me. Without you all, I wouldn’t be here! I must send a HUGE shootout to my brother and his family - Jason, Heather, Karlee and Jake for an amazingly beautiful arrangement of flowers I received this afternoon.  Another HUGE thank you goes out to Denise Reigel for the gorgeous bouquet of roses. Thank you all so much!!

From Jason, Heather, Karlee and Jake
Roses from Denise

Monday, August 6, 2012

First day of pageant week…check!

It was a pretty relaxed and low-key day. Most of the other contestants arrived today so our main tasks were to get registered this afternoon and then we had orientation this evening.

There are 27 other ladies competing for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2013 and let me tell you they are amazing! I haven’t been able to talk with all of them quite yet, but I am getting pretty good at knowing everyone’s name, or state at least!

Ms. Wheelchair Illinois and myself
As we got seated for dinner and orientation, we had the opportunity to meet with Angel Taveras, the Mayor of Providence, who welcomed us to the state of Rhode Island, and especially Providence.

The Mayor and I
After supper, introductions were made and orientation began. Josie Badger, Ms. Wheelchair America 2012, spoke a few words of encouragement and it was then that it hit me how big of a week this would be and what could be the results!

Orientation was pretty straightforward – we talked about all the details for the week, judging sessions, and all of the other things that will be taking place.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy one! We are having a mentoring event in the morning, a workshop in the afternoon, and a clambake in evening! I’m looking forward to what tomorrow will hold for me, but I can’t hold back my excitement…I can’t wait to get my hands (or fork really) on some clams!!

Oh, I must send a HUGE thank you to everyone at BTI.  Not only have they sponsored all of my travels as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, but when I returned to my room from lunch this afternoon, I had an amazing fruit bouquet waiting for me! It not only looks pretty, but it tastes amazing!! 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

After about seven hours and two flights, we have made it to a place where there is much more green than brown and it has already rained since we have been here…Rhode Island!

We had a slight delay in Cleveland, which pushed our arrival time here in Providence back about one hour, but I was still greeted at the baggage claim by two of the Ms. Wheelchair America Welcoming Committee. After grabbing all of our luggage (by the way do you know how much luggage it takes Mom and I to be gone one week…too much!) we hopped in the van and took the short trip past the Big Blue Bug to our hotel, the Renaissance. 
The Renaissance Hotel
The Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Providence has a ton of history – it was built as a temple, but when funding ceased the building sat empty for 80 years. The Marriot has come in and remodeled the whole building, but kept its integrity as a temple. It is absolutely beautiful and one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in!

From what I can see and what little we have walked around, the city is rich in history and seems like a pretty cool place to be. Across the street lies the State Capitol building and just down the street lies one of the biggest malls in the state.

State Capital
However, there is not a ton of room for many shopping malls around here, I was told that you can travel state-line to state-line in just about one hour depending on traffic! How crazy is that!!
Church tucked right behind our hotel
Nonetheless, I am beat from traveling…but stay tuned as I will try to update you daily as the pageant week begins!

Another View of the Capital
Supper at the Cheesecake Factory