Monday, May 23, 2011

April 18- April 31

Hello friends!

The middle of April seemed to calm down quite a bit for me. Thank you all for your prayers and support during this time, because at this point I had been really beaten down by the effects of a new medical condition. I was still not permitted to exercise or drive, and after being so independent, for so long- I felt very discouraged. But your love and prayers have helped me to push through and continue making the most of every single day I am blessed with as your Miss Delaware.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (April 18-20) were mostly personal days but I did have a phone conference with the National Alopecia Areata Foundation and also with my Character Counts advisor. Thursday I visited Fredrick Douglas Elementary School in Seaford to give a Character Counts presentation on "Respect". Every moment I spend in an elementary school brightens my day. Kids truly do say the darndest things, but they are also so capable of absorbing all things around them- and therefore we are given an opportunity to truly shape them and make a difference. This presentation was not intended to be about Alopecia at all, but several of the students had heard about me and my story. And because they are at "that age", they wanted to ask about it. I was so thankful they did, and I was able to explain Alopecia Areata to them, and share my story of bullying and accepting others.

I was looking forward to Saturday all week long because that evening I attended my best friend, and 1st Runner Up to Miss Delaware 2008, Julia Fuller Donahue's Woman of the Year Fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Julia held a spectacular event that evening in her mother's honor at the Washington Street Alehouse and made us all so proud. I know Debbie (Julia's mother, who lost her battle with blood cancer a few years ago) was looking down on her with a huge smile on her face and bragging about her daughter up in heaven.

I celebrated Easter the next day with my family (the Martell's and the Gillis') as we attended Kevin's grandfather's final Easter sermon. After the service we all enjoyed brunch together and a blissful day off! Monday and Tuesday I had another appointment with the cardiologist, and quite the to-do list! This was the time when it first set in to me that I will be crowning a new Miss Delaware in just a few weeks. Making plans for the next phase of my life, allowed all of that to become a reality. But then Wednesday rolled around and brought my third test at the cardiologist! We had been praying for answers for two months, and finally- they came! I left the appointment that day feeling overjoyed that we finally had a diagnosis and a treatment plan! Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes during this time. It was certainly not ideal timing, but with all of your love and support, we were able to get through!

That next morning (Thursday, April 28) I was up bright and early to drive myself (a joyous occasion!) to Lincoln to be interviewed by longtime family friend and supporter, Denise Harper, on "The Bridge". The interview went swimingly and viewers were even given the chance to call in and ask me some questions! I cherish every opportunity I am given to talk about my faith in the Lord and the blessings he has bestowed upon my family and I. And after the news from the day before, I had many things to thank Him for! Thank you to "The Bridge" for having me on air!

Saturday (April 30) was one of my favorite days that month. Early that morning, my mother and I drove to Berlin, MD- which I must say, is the cutest little town in the whole world! Oh My Hair Salon was hosting a cutathon for Locks of Love and had invited me to be a part of the event! I had the best time, and the ladies of the salon were so kind and welcoming and were donating their time and offering free hair cuts for anyone who wanted to donate their hair! Men and woman alike came to donate their hair and one woman and one young girl really stood out to me. Everyone there looked beautiful with their new "dus" :)

That afternoon, I was in my hometown again for Milford's Annual Bug and Bud Festival, which is one of my favorite festivals throughout the year! The weather was beautiful and I felt so loved hearing peoples accounts of where they were the night of the Miss America pageant this year. Plus, being a Miss Delaware means you automatically love everything lady bug, so I had to purchase something bug-ish while I was there!

Thank you all for continuing to support me on my journey as your Miss Delaware. As I look back, I realize how special each of these moments are and I feel so blessed to have had such a full and fulfilling year. I hope that I have lived up to my promise of never letting a single moment go to waste.

Stay tuned for my final six weeks as Miss Delaware until we crown the 70th Miss Delaware on June 11th at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino!

God bless you all.

Love,

Kayla

Sunday, May 22, 2011

April 10- April 17

Hello friends!

Thank you for checking in with me to be a part of my year as Miss Delaware. I have been having the time of my life and have loved every minute! I cannot believe my year is almost over!

I know I begin every update by letting you know how busy I have been. So I will just let you assume that my schedule has kept up the pace! April 1st I celebrated April Fools Day at the Grande Opening of the World Cafe' Live's The Queen Theatre in Wilmington! If you have not yet visited The Queen, you absolutely must. It is one of the oldest theatres in Delaware and is such a big part of our history. WCL has restored the theatre and revamped everything so it is a beautiful marriage of historic architecture with a modern touch. Be sure to check out their schedule of upcoming concerts.

That Saturday (April 2) I had quite a long day! It began when I sang "God Bless America" at a local ribbon cutting and then rushed over to the Stargate Diner in Harrington to speak to a group of 40 teen girls called "Agape Love" about "Embracing Beauty Within". These girls were so inspiring and so receptive- I knew I had the chance to make a real difference in their lives that day. I signed autographs for everyone, had a bite to eat and after I spoke I was on the road again. By this time it was mid-day and I had to run home and change quickly before driving up to the University of Delaware's campus in Newark to speak at the Odyssey of the Mind Competition's Award Ceremony. I was looking forward to this all week because I had competed in the Odyssey of the Mind Competition from the time I was in 8th grade until I graduated high school. OM was one of my favorite activities and was the perfect venue for me to channel my creative side. My team and I even placed 6th in the World at the International OM Competition in Boulder, CO. Such great memories!

Thankfully, I had the chance to sleep in the next morning and spend the day with my family. Monday and Tuesday were filled with more doctors appointments and another test with disappointing results. But Wednesday morning I woke up with a smile and held my head high as I posed during my photoshoot for the cover of Delaware Today's May Issue, which is on stands now! Bridgette (my bichon maltipoo) tried with all her might to get in the picture. But, unfortunately she didn't meet the criteria ;)

Thursday (April 7) I tried to be productive during the daytime before attending the "10 of the Best" Event hosted by the Milford Chamber of Commerce with MDSO Board Member and my friend, Chuck Ivins. I served as the keynote speaker that evening and chose to speak about the importance of making the commitment to be involved in your community. Thank you Lorna, and to the Milford Chamber for inviting me to speak! I so enjoy every chance I get to be in my hometown!

Friday (April 8) was a special day as my family and I were in Penn's Landing, Philadelphia to celebrate the marriage of my mother's best friend's daughter, Sara to the love of her life, Jake. The wedding was held at Jake's restaurant, the Moshulu. If you've never been, you really must check it out! I suggest trying their brunch- it is my personal favorite! Sara was the most beautiful bride, and I've never met a couple more in love than she and Jake. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Wade! May you have a lifetime filled with love and happiness.

Sunday (April 10) I attended a bowling fundraiser in Wilmington to benefit my platform, the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. It is not often that we have NAAF events in Delaware and so I knew I couldn't miss it! I cherish every opportunity to advocate for Alopecia awareness or to just meet others who have this condition as well. My parents were kind enough to ride upstate with me to be a part of this event.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with quite a long to-do list, a rehearsal for the Hocker's Jamboree and another (anxiously awaited) facial at one of my favorite sponsors, the Hockessin Day Spa! Thursday (April 14) I was in Fruitland, MD to speak at 97.5fm CAT Country's event Celebrating Community Heroes at the Black Diamond Lodge. After dinner, I shared my story and my love and commitment to service. Thank you to Delmarva Broadcasting for inviting me to speak and be a part of this incredible event. It is not often that regular community members are honored for their generosity or service and this event was the perfect way to do just that.

Friday (April 15) I was in Wilmington to attend the "Evening with the Masters" to benefit Meals on Wheels of Delaware. As a self-proclaimed "foodie" I was absolutely in my glory as I tested samplings from a plethora of local caterers and restaurants. Love me some food! :) And I loved running into the King of Cakes here in Delaware, Food Network's "The Next Great Baker" winner, Dana, owner of Cakes by Dana. His orange dreamsicle cake is to-die-for. You must try it.

Saturday (April 16) marked the third anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre which is a day of horrific memories in our family. My fiance', Kevin attended VT and was on campus that day. His mother and I could not get hold of him for hours and we were both in a terrible place until we finally heard from him later that day. Thankfully, he and all of his friends were safe, but many lives were lost that day and on that day I was sure to say a prayer for the families of the victims of that day.

That morning I was glad to be a part of the Miss Delaware Contestant's First Orientation where I was able to speak about the job of Miss Delaware. Letitia Pusey, Miss Delaware 1994's mother, Linda Pusey, who is one of our board members, was asked to speak instead of my own mother, to share what it is like when your daughter becomes Miss Delaware. Thankfully, the parents chose to contact my mother directly and ask for words of wisdom!

It was at orientation that I realized- my year is almost over! It was definitely emotional to hear Debi speak about what June would be like for the next Miss Delaware. The best word that I can describe my feeling is bittersweet! I will truly miss my job, but I know I will continue to be involved in my community and I will forever have the memories of this year. I still have quite a few chapters left in my book :)

I left orientation in Georgetown and headed to Dover to attend the "Power of One" event at the Dover Art League. Thank you to Angela Tilley for inviting my mother and I! From there I left promptly to be able to drive back down to Sussex County to uphold a longstanding tradition of Miss Delaware performing at Representative Gerald Hocker's Jamboree in Dagsboro. I sang "Stand By Your Mine" as per the recommendation of my father! I had the best time and experienced singing with a live band for the very first time!

What a long day that was! I went home that night and slept for a few hours before I had to be up and ready to celebrate at my best friend, and former Miss Delaware, Brittany Dempsey's, Bridal Shower! She loved every part of her shower and I know she was thankful to have a day to celebrate her upcoming nuptials with people who love her. My mother, who is superwoman, made the cake from scratch and decorated it to match the beach theme of her shower!

Thank you all for being a part of this journey. Your support has meant the world to me, and I wouldn't have been able to get this far without all of you behind me!

With much love and gratitude,

Kayla

March 15- 31 This is a big one!

Hello everyone!

The middle of March brought some unexpected twists and turns in my road as Miss Delaware, but just as I knew it would- everything worked out well! Although, I was still overcoming a new medical issue, I was ready to continue with my appearances and make the most of every day I have been blessed with as your Miss Delaware.

On Tuesday, March 15 I attended the general session at the House of Representatives at Legislative Hall where I was honored my Representative Valerie Longhurst for placing in the Top 10 at Miss America and for being named one of America's Choice. I admire Representative Longhurst for her commitment to our state and most importantly for advocating on behalf of people with Alopecia. Her daughter, Peyton had lost her hair as a child and ignited a fire in Valerie to represent people just like her on the state level.

The rest of the week was filled with medical tests and setbacks but alas, Friday brought the surprise birthday dinner for my best friend and former Miss Delaware contestant (and 1st Runner Up in 2008), Julia Fuller Donohue. When you become Miss Delaware, or Miss State, you learn to cherish your moments of normalcy with true friends and lots of laughter. Happy 23rd Birthday Julia! Thank you for inspiring me, and for always being there for me!

That weekend I was thrilled to model in the Miss Delaware Scholarship Organization's Fashion Show Fundraiser at the Delaware Center for Conteporary Arts in Wilmington. Faye Sutton, one of our newest board members, organized this beautiful event where women throughout the community modeled clothing provided by all local vendors. This was a great networking opportunity and my favorite part was wearing two pieces from my Miss America Wardrobe that were sponsored by The Johnstown Bridal Suite!

The beginning of the next week brought another doctor's appointment and another test, with no good news. But, with the support of my family, friends and all the wonderful people behind me, I kept praying for inner peace and kept pushing along! I was treated to my second facial that month by Carrie at the Hockessin Day Spa which certainly cheered me up and gave me some "me" time outside of the doctor's office! Thank you, Carrie!!!

Friday (March 26) I met my Executive Director, Debi Wilson in Wilmington and we headed for Philadelphia to attend the Miss Philadelphia 2011 Pageant. I have been to this pageant once before and I must say, it never dissapoints! It is not often we witness a "local" pageant of this caliber; I felt like I was at a state pageant! Congratulations to Maria Sciorillo, Miss Philadelphia 2011 and the winner of an $11,000 scholarship! Yep, that's right- $11,000!!! I especially loved her because Maria was also awarded the Community Service Award which is near and dear to my heart. Congratulations to Kevin, Agnes, and Frank on a beautiful production and such a well-rounded winner! Thank you for including me!

From Philadelphia, I found myself on a train headed for Washington, DC!

Once I arrived in Washington D.C. I was picked up at the train station by my wonderful fiance', Kevin, and then immediately taken to the home of Miss District of Columbia Pageant's Executive Director, Teri Galvez where I  reunited with Miss DC, VA, WA, CO, TX, MD, CT, KY, NY, NJ, OK, and OR (hopefully I didn't miss anyone!). My visit with them lifted my spirits and I felt right at home with these incredible women whom I am proud to call my sisters. I was so blessed to spend two nights there and catch up with the girls, and our beloved Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan! This was my first time seeing her since her coronation, and I was dying to hear about all the fabulous things she has been up to! Of course, the stories did not dissapoint and Teresa continues to make all of us proud as she travels thousands of miles every week representing this organization which we all love so much. Teresa truly embodies what this program is all about.

While in DC I had the fortune of, not only spending time with Miss America and some of my "sisters", but we also were able to meet with a non-profit organization of our choosing. I met with some of the 4-H staff at the USDA Office in DC which was very worthwhile since I am a 4-H Board of Trustee, yet have never seen the governmental side of our organization. Thank you to everyone at the USDA Office for welcoming me and for being so flexible! Jen Corey (Miss DC 2009) was kind enough to be my escort and driver those few days, so once she picked me up we were on our way back to change for the big event! That night all of the visiting titleholders and I attended an event at the Croatian Embassy in Teresa's honor, since she is of Croatian descent. All I can say is that it was an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

After the event was an after-party and by the end of the night, I was exhausted. Unfortunately, I had just started a new medication and was still recovering from a recent medical issue, and I have little recollection of the trip. But, I do know that we all had fun! And after getting a few hours of rest- Miss TX and Miss KY and I were up and ready to visit our state Senators! Senator Carper was kind enough to spend some time with me that morning and I am honored to call him a friend and longtime supporter. In my opinion, he is one of the most passionate and giving elected officials in our state!

After meeting with Senator Carper, I had to rush over to Union Station in DC to hop on another train- this time I was headed for New York City! By Tuesday evening I was checking in to the Waldorf Astoria (my first time ever!) for the National 4-H Council's Board of Trustees meetings. Wednesday (March 30) we were in committee and full board meetings from 8am until 4pm with only a few breaks for lunch and such. We were on a roll! It has been a great honor to have been elected as one of the newest Trustees on the council and I have already learned so much from this experience. The best part is that it has affirmed my love and belief in the 4-H Organization, and the impact it continues to make worldwide. That evening I was delighted to attend and lead the pledge at the 4-H Legacy Awards Gala at the Waldorf Astoria which honored some of 4-H's most incredible leaders, members, sponsors and volunteers. I felt even more proud that night to say I have a clover shaped heart.
The next morning I enjoyed breakfast in NYC with my new friend, Jodi who also has Alopecia Areata! Jodi is an inspiration to me, and I just love her family! They took such great care of me, and even bought me a delicious dessert from Serendipity II!!! We chatted for a while and before I knew it, I was on a train again. This time... I was headed home!

Whew!!! Were you able to keep up? It was quite a busy two weeks, but well worth it! I had such a great time and loved seeing my Miss America sisters, and traveling all over the place!
 
Wishing you all a beautiful evening. God bless!
 
-Kayla

Monday, May 16, 2011

March 1 - 14

Hello Friends!
If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you may already know how busy life has been! The month of March started out very busy, and ended in a rather calm manner. After returning from Plant City, FL and filming the first segment for "The Doctors" I returned to life as Miss Delaware here in my home state. I spent a few days with my own doctors to deal with a new medical condition. I was excited to visit the Community Links program at the Modern Maturity Center to speak while they were honoring accomplished African American women in our community. Immediately after, I was on my way to the Red Ribbon Fashion Show at Barclay Bank in Downtown Wilmington. Of course, wearing my favorite red dress, I enjoyed a night of great fun while raising money and awareness for AIDS Delaware.

After a few more doctor appointments it was time to celebrate the birthday of a very different (and much happier) doctor- Dr. Suess! On March 2nd I found myself visiting an elementary school on the Dover Air Force Base, which includes a very special staff member in every Miss Delaware's heart- Sue Kuhling, the former MDSO Executive Director. I had the pleasure of reading two of my favorite Dr. Suess books that day, "Oh The Places You'll Go" and "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish". We even had cake and a little party to celebrate the occasion- what a fun day!

The next day I was on a plane to Los Angeles, CA to film the final segment for "The Doctors" TV Show, which was the interview segment. I was so looking forward to seeing Brooke once again and to see if I could notice a change in her. Boy, was it evident that she had already opened up and had become a little more comfortable! All of the doctors on the show were so welcoming and friendly- they seemed so genuinely interested in our story! And yes, ladies, Travis is just as adorable in person! See the previous entry for even more of the scoop!

The trip to Los Angeles had to be rather quick because I needed to be back in Delaware for a fashion show for Lady's Image, a local boutique and longtime friend of the Miss Delaware Scholarship Organization. In the show I wore a dress that I had purchased which was a black mini dress with a grecian draped shoulder and a silver rhinestone strap on the other.

The next week I visited one of my favorite sponsors, Carrie at the Hockessin Day Spa for a facial. I always look forward to those visits because Carrie and I love to catch up and I leave feeling so relaxed. I also spoke at the USDA Office in Dover for a luncheon. As a lifelong 4-Her and Board Member, I value our partnership with and the support of the USDA, so it was a joy to be with them.

Before I knew it, it was March 12th and I was filming with a German TV show about Alopecia Areata in the morning, and attending the Miss Delaware's Outstanding Teen Rehearsal and Dinner with the contestants! The next day I emceed the Miss Delaware's Outstanding Teen Pageant and celebrated the many accomplishments of my then little sister, Katelynn Mayers, MDOT 2010. Later that afternoon, I announced that our new Miss Delaware's Outstanding Teen 2011 is Victoria Brown-O'Brien! This was especially exciting for me, because I have known "Tori" since she was a toddler as her great grandmother, Tatiana Akinfieva Smith, was my ballet instructor with the Diamond Dance Company. Tori definitely has her great grandmother's talents and will be a force to be reconed with at the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Pageant in August! I am so proud of her and cannot wait to see all the wonderful things she will accomplish this year. Katelynn and Tori- I am blessed to call you both my first and only little sisters :)

Stay tuned for the update on the latter part of March! So many incredible things have been happening and I am thankful you are checking in to be a part of it!

With love and grattitude-

Kayla

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