Monday, January 3, 2011

Final Update before the Miss America 2011 Pageant

Hello everyone,

I wanted to write an update to let you all know what I have been up to since my last post. The past few weeks have been incredibly busy, and yet it feels like they have flown by so quickly. Somehow, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years came and went! And this Thursday morning I will be on a plane headed for Las Vegas, NV to represent my home state in the Miss America Pageant!

November ended as quickly as it began; I celebrated Thanksgiving morning in the Philadelphia Parade on ABC with our own Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron, and my sister titleholders, Miss New Jersey and Miss Pennsylvania. It was such a treat to spend time on the warm tour bus with the girls, and catch up. After the parade, my Executive Director and I were on the road again, headed home to celebrate all that I am thankful for, with my family. This year I am thankful to have the chance to live out my dream of becoming Miss America. And I am thankful to have loving supporters from all over the world and even in my own small town. And I am thankful for the power of prayer and for the freedom that we are privileged to have every day thanks to the brave men and women giving their lives to protect our country.

After Thanksgiving, I attended a three parades- including the Wilmington Parade where I was so thrilled to share the day with a close friend, Miss DE USA 2009, Julie Citro. I was also able to support a few friends in the Miss DE USA Pageant, speak with several local groups including the Sussex County Council, and even perform in "The Nutcracker" in my hometown company, the Diamond Dance Company. I held a few parts including the "Dream Fairy"- which has always been my favorite piece!

Throughout December I continued to rehearse my talent selection, workout in the gym with Brittany, have wardrobe fittings, meet with mock interview panels, my hair stylist, and a makeup artist (Tiffani Mitchell- check her out!). It certainly was not as easy as that sentence may read, but I know now that all the hard work is behind me and I have done all I can. From here, I plan to do my very best in each phase of competition, stay positive, and give it to God. Because, I know He has a greater plan for all of us.

Some of my favorite appearances this season were spent with the Delaware State Police. No... I wasn't in any trouble! But, I was sure to ask if my crown could ever get me out of a speeding ticket! Completely hypothetical :) State Police Troop 3 from Camden and I visited local special needs classrooms for children of all ages from 5-21, and we even visited the pediatric floor at Kent General Hospital. While there, Santa, Spiderman, Rudolph and myself along with dressed troopers delivered presents and holiday cheer. The next day, members of Troop 1, and all the characters listed before visited A.I. DuPont Children's Hospital with me and we spent the entire day going from room to room sharing the holiday spirit. I had no idea how emotional this process could be, even though I have been through room visits before. One of the children became overjoyed when I entered the room and she had been waiting for me all day! She announced over and over, "Miss America, Miss America!!!" She had lost her hair as a side effect of chemotherapy, and it was a joy to tell her that I, too had lost my hair. Experiences like this just warm my heart, and remind me of the power of the crown. Her entire room had been decorated in a Princess theme and I knew that she dreamed of becoming Miss America one day. I had the unique opportunity to show her that her dream can come true, regardless of how many strands of hair she has right now.

Also, in December I had quite a busy weekend filled with traveling to Johnstown, Pennsylvania to pick up all of my Miss America wardrobe from The Bridal Suite, perform at their town's Christmas Pageant and ride in the parade with my new friend- Cali, Miss West Virginia! My Executive Director and I rushed home to Delaware to celebrate my send-off to Miss America with friends, family and supporters. A new friend, and fellow "baldie", Candie was surprised by her boyfriend with a trip to meet me and see all of my wardrobe at the send-off! I was in tears the minute I heard how far she had travelled just to meet me. Thank you Candie, for making the trip- YOU are beautiful on the inside and out!

In the past few weeks I have been able to visit with all of my incredible sponsors including Salon Rispoli to be sure my hair is perfect, Sun Dazed Tanning to give my skin a healthy glow, Webster Cosmetic Dentistry for a straighter and whiter smile, Brittany Dempsey at Lifestyles Fitness Center for a slim and fit swimsuit body, and celebrity stylist, Christie Maruka from Fashion Fix NJ for providing my wardrobe for the Miss America appearances! Thank you all for your all of your support and for believing in me, even before I became Miss Delaware! And thank you to Ronnie and Deborah from The Bridal Suite for providing my beautiful evening gowns and cocktail pieces that I love so much! I feel like Miss America already!

To bring you fully up to date, I have been on a local media tour lately on local radio stations, television stations and local newspapers to promote the pageant and the chance to vote for the "People's Choice Award". The next two days will be filled with packing, and taking care of a few last minute things before I leave for Las Vegas!

Please know that it has been my honor to be your Miss Delaware, and I get chills up and down my spine with a big smile on my face when I think of the opportunity that lies ahead of me. I still am in awe that I could be your Miss America in less than two weeks. I know that I am ready, and I have done all that I can to be the best version of myself. Your love and support has meant the world to me, and without all of you, I would not feel as confident or prepared as I feel now. Please continue to keep me in your prayers and of course--- keep voting!!! :) If you haven't voted yet, there is still time! Voting closes January 13th!

Be sure to watch me compete LIVE in the Miss America Pageant January 15th on ABC at 9pm Eastern Time. I hope to make all of you proud!

God bless you all and may 2011 be the best year yet!

With all my love-

Your Miss Delaware,

Kayla Martell

13 comments:

meagan mason said...

hi kayla I was watching new tonight and your story was very inspiring I am 22 and have also had aleopica since I was 11 it has been a very trying time through my life but has not got me down I kept it hid until recently when I have lost all my hair and have to wear a wig... I am very blessed to say you are such an inspiration and I know what you are going through..... May I ask though were you get your wigs I have been look for a human hair one that looks real.... ?? May god bless you and you do well in the contest .. You have already changed many lifes and many more to come..... God bless meagan mason

Kim said...

Hello Kayla! You're story is one that NEEDS to be told: my sister has AA, since she was 12(1984). Unfortunately, her "friends" weren't quite as nice as they should have been, and she suffered throughout Jr High & High School. But, she kept her chin up, and did things that I didn't get to. It made me so sad that she should have to go through this... I would've gladly traded places with her. She pushed through, and is now a beautiful wife and mom, with a 13 y.o. son, a 12 y.o. step-daughter, and an almost-1 y.o. daughter! She runs her own business, takes care of her family, and has inspired me her whole life.
Many blessings to you in your quest to become whomever you want to be!
Sincerely,
Kim Roberts

Sherry Tejada said...

You go girl! I am so happy you are sharing your hairloss. I have had alopecia totalis since I was 21 yrs old and decided there were worse things in life than being hairfree. Now being 49 yrs. old, I feel this was a gift for me to have this disease. Because our society looks at and judges the outward appearance of humans, I looked inward and found that working on the inside is what's truly important. You are an excellent role model for all of us, so our young and older generations can redefine our values to look for the "God" in all of us and truly treasure that...which is what makes us special and allows us to live forever past this physical life. Thank you, thank you! Both myself and my husband, family, and friends will be sending you love and light to continue your truly needed work in today's society! Regardless...You are a winner in my eyes. http://www.SherryTejada.com

Marketing said...

I discovered you through Mental Floss and never before have I've been excited about a pageant. I'm in California and I'm voting Delaware!

I so badly want you to win to show what true beauty is. You winning would be a gigantic step for self esteem for all women and provide a real hero for child and young girls who they can relate to.

I've put a link on my blog to yours in hope of letting more people know and vote for you!

Good luck!

Kayla Martell said...

Hi Meagan!

Thank you so much for your comment- we obviously have a lot in common! All of my wigs come from Salon Rispoli in Newark, Delaware. Mario Rispoli is the owner, and he is an OnRite retailer- but he is definitely the best. Even if you can't travel to Delaware, I would contact the Salon, and ask for Mario (if you are looking into other wigs). He can pointe you in the direction of someone in your area.

Many blessings,

Kayla

Anonymous said...

Hi Kayla - I am from New Hampshire and just turned 60! I have had alopecia for 35 years. I am so happy that you are in the Miss America Pageant and showing young women that beauty is from within.
I will be rooting for you tonight and will be wigless in front of the TV! LOL You are an inspiration to all including me!!
Wish you luck and good health. Joanne Vey

Anonymous said...

Congratulations for making top 10. Your an inspiration to many.

Milarvelous said...

Hey Kayla,
I just wanted to say thank you for your story. Ever since I was eight or nine, my hair started to thin. In the sixth grade, it was almost falling out and I had some bald spots. Apart from this, I was already self-conscious because I am "half-blind" or "legally blind" (whatever you want to call it) which means I was on alot of medications that made hair-loss even more probable for me (Alopeica also runs in my family, a little bit.) Also, one of the immunosuppressives made me bloated/fatter. I was a quiet kid, I didn't have very many friends but I always wanted to be loud, talkative and really outgoing, but the way people treated me brought my self-esteem down. So, in the seventh or eighth grade, my mom got the idea (yes, sadly, she was inspired by Hannah Montana...) to go out and buy me my first wig. With it, I felt a little less self-conscious and gradually turned into the person I am today. I'm sixteen now, my hair is slowly growing back (because I've been off the drugs for a few years) but it's really thin and only like chin-length. I still wear the wigs, and somehow people have lately started to find out about it. I wear the wig everywhere -- it's grown to be some part of me -- but it's also getting really irritating. I'm tired of trying to tame it everyday (because there's no natural oils from my head, it's worse than normal hair and the new one I have just goes POOOF if you don't fix it like every twenty minutes) and everyone I know who knows is telling me just to loose it. I'm a little nervous about doing that, because I don't want a repeat of my elementary-school days. But after I saw your story online, I thought about it again. Maybe I should? I really don't know. There's no sense in not trying, right?
Anyways, thanks for listening to my rambling and thanks for being such a confident, inspiring woman! Good luck in your future! :)

Happyboomernurse said...

Hi Kayla,
Congratulations on being voted "America's Choice," and for making the top 10 finalists. You looked amazing and your dance routine was perfect! You will always be a winner to your many fans, especially those who suffer from alopecia. You're a true inspiration and are beautiful from the inside out!

Gail Hanson said...

Kayla, you were beautiful Saturday night and I was so hopeful that you would win. You are truly an inspiration and 'our ideal'; you know who you are and who you want to be. I watched some older clips of you and I am amazed at your strength and grace. Our daughter will graduate this year and has AA (since 7th grade); you two are almost AA twins. She started wearing her wig close to a year ago, but she's had great difficulty trusting herself. I always thought of southerners as the nicest and friendliest folks on earth, but most of the people in her high school have not been nice. She's really struggled these past few years; she's been in school with her peers since pre-k and familiarity is breeding discontent. We hope that graduation will bring a change for her that will motivate her to become whomever she wants to be. Much like you! Again, I admire your poise and your courage and your beauty. Please continue to follow your dreams!

Erica said...

Hi Kayla! I am from Virginia. I am a very busy 34 year old woman because I am a professional, businesswoman, and I am involved with church. I do not watch much TV and by chance, saw your interview for the Miss America pageant. I was thrilled because I also have AA and I began last year to become an advocate against bullying and I took off my wig (for the first time in my life) and posted a Blog on my FB page. Thank you sooo much for being brave and for showing them that beauty is beauty and it is not from what is attached on your head. God Bless You! I wrote a Note, called "Peculiar, that's me..." last year on my FB page. So proud of you!

Briana said...

Hi! Kayla,
I watched you compete in the
Miss America pageant and you did a great job! I met you at the "Let Your Hair Down" event. My name is Briana and I have alopecia since I was four.(I'm 12 now.) The minute I met you I knew you were going to be a great role model for people with alopecia. You have inspired me to be proud of who I am. I think you should have won Miss America, but it was awesome that you were voted in by America. Thank you for showing people with and with out hair that you need to go after your dreams. Great job again! I hope I can see you at the next Let Your Hair Down event.
From,
Briana

evacurtis1227 said...

Hi Kayla. My 7 year old niece, Melody Belle, was diagnosed with alopecia in December last year. When she began losing her hair my husband found an article about you online and sent it to her. Since then she can't stop talking about you. She was talking with my brother the other day and she said, "Daddy, I am ok if I lose all my hair I will still be pretty. But, will you get me a wig if I do?"
I was wondering if you could reach out to her in some way? I know that you have many public engagements but this would mean the world to her.

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