I have to admit, I'm a little embarrassed. I have sat down to write this blog about 14 times and I keep coming up short. There aren't sufficient words to explain whats going on inside my head and heart right now, but I'm going to do my best.
When I began competing 2 years ago, I knew Miss America was my ultimate goal. It's easy to say "I want to be Miss America" when you're younger, but as I've grown older and closer to that dream I've come to realize there's a lot more to it than what everyone sees on TV. I knew that being Miss Delaware would give me the opportunity to make an impact, but it wasn't until a month or so into my year that I realized just how much of a difference I would be able to make. In the past 6 months I have been more exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally than I have ever been before, I've had strep throat, and a stomach bug, and I've really grown to appreciate a good night's sleep. Sometimes its the little moments I share with a child on an appearance that gets me through. From my experience competing for Miss Delaware, I know how exhausting pageant week can be; 17-18 hour days full of rehearsal, bonding with the other women, appearances, and trying to stay on top of a workout regimen. The next 10 days will be the busiest, most rewarding, and life-changing days of my whole life, and I know it's going to take some coffee and Emergen-C to get through them.
I'll also be relying heavily on the people I love the most, my family and friends, to keep me motivated, as well as memories from the appearances I have made thus far. Here's just a brief list of the special moments I've had since June.
- Visiting the Stockley Center, Howard T. Ennis, AI DuPont Children's Hospital, and a few other facilities with the Delaware State Police before Christmas
- Surprising my Miss DE "little sister," Audrey, at her 5th birthday party
- Hearing my little sister say she wants to be Miss Delaware 2024
- Speaking with Anna Maria Farrow and Moving for Melanoma at Middletown High School
- Visiting the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where I met Isha, a young girl in the oncology ward who says that she wants to be a "real princess" one day just like me
- Being in the Thanksgiving Parade in Philadelphia with Miss America, Miss New Jersey, and Miss Pennsylvania
- Watching Morgan Burris represent Delaware at Miss America's Outstanding Teen in Orlando, FL
- Meeting Vice President Joe Biden at Return's Day
- Speaking at Carver Academy and Lord Baltimore Elementary with Character Counts
- Attending KSI's Christmas party where I am told I was a bigger hit than Santa Claus
It'll be memories from these appearances that remind me why exactly I am headed to Las Vegas, and why I've devoted 2 years of my life to this cause: Seeing Isha's face light up when she saw my crown, and her happy tears when she tried it on, Audrey running at me and leaping into my arms with only one bowling shoe on, my sister telling me she wants to follow in my footsteps, handing out teddy bears with Santa to children who would be spending Christmas in the hospital, Stacia and Katie trying on my sash at Howard T. Ennis, Lady Ava Rae, my Miss Delaware "sister" stealing her mom's phone to call me just to chat, and telling the judges at her pageant that Miss Delaware 2012 is her role model and she wants to grow up to be just like her, and knowing in general how happy I've been able to make some very special people this year.
There are some very special people who have made this year so incredible, and I want to send a quick thank you to:
- My family, for sticking by me during these crazy, hectic, and overwhelming 6 months. I love you all so much, and I hope I make you proud!
- My friends, thanks for being so supportive and understanding when I have to cancel on plans for other engagements, or from just being plain ole' dog tired.
- Debbie and Ronnie at the Bridal Suite in Johnstown, PA for my gorgeous competition gown.
- My Miss DE Board, who I don't know what I would do without.
- Paul Timmons, the best personal trainer in the World, and one of my biggest fans. Thanks for believing in me, and helping me reach my goals.
- Jamie Ginn, Miss DE 2006 for choreographing the most perfect dance routine, and teaching me how to be sassy in swimsuit, and for being my friend and big sister.
- Robert and Julie Collins from Pinnacle Photography, for always helping me feel beautiful.
- Sal Cutrona and Gloria from Michael Christopher Salon, for keeping me fabulous.
- The other Miss America contestants, for already making this year so memorable, and in advance for the lifelong friendships I'll be making.
- Chris Saltalamacchio, for ALWAYS being there to lend me an ear or a shoulder to cry on.
- AZD sisters across the nation for their support, as well as the University of Delaware, UD Greek Life, and Adam Cantley, for helping me get some People's Choice Votes
- All of the former Miss Delawares, especially Maria Cahill, for being such wonderful big sisters, and for all of their wisdom and love.
I'm not sure what God has in store for me in Las Vegas, but I know that it will be a positive experience, and whatever happens is all in His plan for me. Sometimes His plan hasn't been what I've expected. I never intended to take a year off of college to serve my state as Miss Delaware, I didn't intend on ever owning sky high heels, butt glue, or more cans of hairspray than I have room for, but He did, and the path He has lead me on has been incredible. Lately, I feel like everything has been going my way, and I know that whatever happens, I will be at peace with the results. My prayer for Miss America is that I will be able to use all of the skills and qualities that God has blessed me with to show the judges what I already know, that I CAN be Miss America. I pray that He guides me throughout my time in Vegas, and allows me to let the judges and audience see who I am, goofiness, awkwardness, and all. I cannot wait to share everything I've been working so hard for with everyone! I won't let you down, Delaware! Alrighty, enough sappiness. VEGAS HERE I COME, along with my Batman footie pajamas...