Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pre- Miss America

Happy New Year!!

It is almost February so I figured it was about time that I updated you on what my life as Miss South Dakota has been like.I am going to break it into a few segments since I have so much to share!

After I was able to spending some time with my family at Thanksgiving I jumped right back into work. I was able to help judge a local Miner County Snow Queen pageant where I had a wonderful day meeting young ladies, watching and judging a separate talent competition, and enjoying the show. The next morning my mother and I were off to my Miss America talent costume fitting and dress fitting once again in Minnesota. Sending praises to Satin Stitches for a beautiful costume that was well beyond my expectations. The final product is outstandingly stunning!

Once I arrived back in South Dakota I headed to Lake Preston where I had the chance to share my message on the dangers of distracted driving with a group of students 7th-12th graders. The school and principal were so very welcoming! Thank you for having me.

Once December rolled around the reality that Miss America was only a few short weeks away really started to become the priority. Working out with my trainer, Pam Stern from Power Shop Gym Brookings, SD, on a regular basis was a must. To anyone the thought that you may have to be on national television an a bathing suit is enough to highly motivate anyone I think! She is a great trainer and for such a long time I was so very scared of lifting heavy weights. I always assumed that they would bulk me up a lot - my muscular legs actually slimmed down to my excitement!

I was planning on heading out to the Hills to Hot Springs to enjoy the "Holiday in the Hills" where there are events that go on and a parade every year that Miss South Dakota participates in. I was not able to attend this year because my family and I flew out to Massachusetts to attend my Grandfather's funeral. We were there for a few short days before we flew back to South Dakota. It was nice to see my family but not under those circumstances.

My mom and I took yet another trip to MN for my dresses. When I got back I visited Hamlin School and talked to the students about my platform. The next day I went to Huron Middle School, where I once attended, to talk with those students. It was funny to see how much smaller the building looked now that I was well over 5 feet :). After I was done talking with the middle school students a family friend escorted me to Holy Trinity School to meet a number of young children! We wanted to tell them about my trunk show coming up so they could see all of my "pretty dresses". This one little boy sticks out in my memory. I walked in and he was at an easel painting (he was only in kindergarten) and looked very shyly at me until I started talking to him. After that, he lite up like a box of fire crackers and searched for anything to say that would really impress me. What he came up with? "I've gots a Spongebob Yogurt". What a cutie, that was the best line he had.

Next, I geared up to showcase all of my wardrobe and my talent for Miss America at my largest trunk show in Huron. Miss South Dakota 2006 Callee Bauman emceed it for me and she did a great job. Not only that but I had some amazing entertainment there. The HS Orchestra, dance team, gymnastics team. It was quite a production. I will not take credit for any of it besides showing up! My mom and a group of wonderful women took time preparing the event for me. We raised ALOT of money which helped me out immensely with my Miss America expenses. I even had the chance to have a "tea party" (which really was cookies and lemonade) with a number of little girls and 1 little boy! It was so much fun!

The following day I spent some time stopping by the Men's Sertoma group in Huron. I gave a presentation for them and told them about the Miss America organization. Thank you for your service to the community.

On my final school visit before Miss America I went back to the other side of the state and visited with Spearfish Middle School (500+ people). It was a beautiful school and it is about as old as me! I couldn't believe it. It looked BRAND new! I had the chance to do a news story done by Austin Hoffman and meet with a group of people about speaking at a very unique program in May of 2011 for high school freshman. I am looking forward to that! That evening my boyfriend's grandmother set up a fundraiser for me at a local restaurant in Spearfish that has just opened called the Bum Steer. I had a great night of signing autographs and meeting people. This one woman I had the chance to talk with for a long while about Miss America, my platform, Tennis, Louis Vuitton, her sister that is an actress in Hollywood, and the Spearfish Chamber gave me her contact information for the future. I was blessed to meet her and I said goodbye to her husband and her as they left for the evening. To my surprise I see her coming up the stairs 20 minutes after they had left with something in her hand- her mother's air loom Louis Vuitton purse! She handed it to me and said "Here, I think you would get more use out of it."! I couldn't believe it. Now I use it all the time and think of her!

The next day I went off to Hot Springs to meet my parents for my second trunk show in Hot Springs. We had a lovely time. Thank you to Lorena Reichart for emceeing it for me. You did a great job! In our free time we visited Mount Rushmore and enjoyed spending some quality time with some of the board members.

During this time I spent numerous hours preparing for talent, swimsuit, and interview with the AMAZING Mitchell Olson. Thank you so much for your help!

Next, I took a very short breather at Christmas where I celebrated with my family.

My final days leading up to the pageant were chaotic and a mad rush to finished what needed to be finish and pack!!!!

Before I sent my things off I had one final trunk show in Brookings. Holly Hoffman came to emcee it and Alex Hoffman entertained.

Feeling pretty good I went for a final interview before I left for Miss America with KSFY on the morning show. It was a blast!

Here is a link to the story:

I'll be back to tell you about my Miss America experience!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello All!
Wow, has this November simply flown by! Although, when you are in suspense and preparing for one of the most important events in your life that tends to happen.

I have learned a lot about myself and my abilities this month. First though, before I get to that I will let you know what I have been up to!

I finally got my talent music finished thank you to Miss SD 2009 and Jay Hardy for putting wonderful vocals on an absolutely wonderful song re-done by Bill Wolfe's help. This music is so me! Being "me" throughout this competition has been extremely important to me. I even opted out of a gown that I thought was the one for something that was 100% ME - and it felt so right! It is beautiful and I am having it altered this weekend. Just wait until you see it - it is amazing.

I had the chance to visit the Rickneck Festival in Huron and help auction off some guns. It is hilarious that whenever I go to a function like this they always have my carrying and selling the guns! I informed everyone that I clearly had two to carry around already and and that one more may be pushing it. (My arms that is.) Needless to say we sold out of raffle tickets for them and there was an excellent turn out.

The very next day I headed to Bryant to emcee the snow queen pageant there. I met some amazing young ladies that we will hopefully see compete within the Miss America system within the next year. I had so much fun! I would have to say that after all of my emceeing gigs, I am much better at improvising. After all, the show must go on!

I had a chance to catch up with HOLLY Hoffman. She had a survivor party on the same night as her daughter Alex Hoffman's birthday. I find it a riot being able to watch her on TV every week. I was never a survivor fan until this season. It is really fun watching someone you know well on there. She hasn't gotten voted off yet - GO HOLLY!

The next day my mother and I drove to Hot Springs, SD for Veteran's Day. It was a very long drive and I am grateful my mother came with to help break up the trip for me. I had the opportunity to visit with many veterans at the State Veteran's Home and I can tell you what - what an inspiration! This one gentleman pulled out his journal for me. He has to fly 50 bombing missions before he could go home. He made it through all 50 missions alive and has a journal down to the date and times/how long it lasted/etc. It was simply AMAZING! It was so humbling to me to be able to spend such a fantastic day with all of these people who risked their lives to make our country what it is today. I am eternally grateful.

After the short but inspiring trip across the state my mother and I drove ALL the way to MN. This is where I took care of some business for Miss America and spent some quality "girl time" with my mom! We even found her a dress for Miss America and she looks stunning in it. I sure hope I look as good as she does when I am her age.

The next week was hectic, I tell you what. However, it was one of the best weeks I have had so far. I learned a tremendous amount about myself and my capabilities. I gave 12 presentations in 4 days. I started by talking to the Sertoma service club in Huron then I drove all the way to Rapid City to spend some time with Sally and Daryl Isburg (amazing people).

State Farm has been supporting me immensely in my efforts to get the word out about Distracted Driving. I am so grateful to them and all of the help and support they have giving me. Matt McCormick (Rapid City State Farm Agent) was my partner in crime as we zipped around town as I talked to students and faculty at South Middle School, West Middle School, Dakota Middle School, Belle Fourche High School, Sturgis Middle School, and Sturgis High School. I reached over 2,000 people in a short 3 days. I can tell you that my presentations are very emotionally exhausting for me talking about my brother, Kelson's, accident. It reminds me how truly important it is when students young and old come up to me and personally thank me for sharing that with them. I know that I have changed lives, and maybe have even saved a few already. I will never know but I do know the impact that I have had on others. I have received an outstanding amount of feedback from students that make all the hard work and emotion so worthwhile. Quoting one student saying "it was one of the most influential speeches I have ever heard." WOW, that about put me back a step. If I have this much power in such a short amount of time I know that I can truly accomplish, and accomplish well, everything that I put my mind to. (Yes, this may sound cheesy but it is 100% true.)

Here are some media links from my week:

What a gratifying experience. I have many more presentations coming up and I look forward to every second of them.

Earlier this week I spoke with Sanford Health with a proposition to partner. I am excited that I have them on board with me and my message. I cannot think of a more rewarding partnership especially regarding the CMN. Sanford has an amazing Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls. It was built to replicate a castle! I am so very excited.

I have dealt with a lot of loss within the last few years. Hard times and hard emotions have come down on my family starting with family illness, my brother's death, my pop pop's death following my brother's, and now my Mother's father has just passed on. A world of grief that was once unbeknownst to me such a short while ago it is now fully apparent. It has taken me back.

I am grateful to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my family. This makes me realize that even though things may not be going well with our family's loss there is truly always something to be thankful for. Do not dwell on any negative it will never change anything. Always think of the good times and that somewhere and somehow your world will fall into place.

One thing I have realized is that God puts you in a position for a reason. I know I am doing what I am doing for a reason and that all of the hardship that I have been through is only preparing me to handle what has yet to come. I know that with a few good friends and family to help me get by, I can make anything happen.

As I finish my post I want to leave you with something. This came to me tonight and was out of inspiration of hard work and life, and that even if things may not be going your way to keep going.

My original quote for you is "When the world pushes on you, push back harder."

Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy your family, and don't take anything for granted.

God Bless.

PS. Happy Thanksgiving Kelson.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Fall!

It is finally feeling like fall in South Dakota. It is my favorite time of the year! I have been anxious to keep you updated on where my Miss South Dakota adventures have taken me since the last time I wrote.

After I talked with Huron High School I went to Sioux Falls to speak in Sertoma Park. Cornerstone Financial in Huron asked me to speak at two client events they were having. The topic of the appreciation events was "Honoring our Veterans". I was so happy to be able to be a part of it. The reason why we have such an amazing country is because of all of the folks that gave their time, lives, and energy to allow us to live the way we do. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to them and to be a speaker at an event such as this was an honor to me. I was able to meet with many of them, share a few laughs, and hear some inspiring stories. I gave a speech on my platform letting everyone know that a phone call or a text can wait.

I was lucky enough to be able to partner with State Farm Insurance on my Distracted Driving presentations. Soon I will be doing my presentations with some of the agents. I think this will be a GREAT addition.

I visited Madison South Dakota to welcome back troops from overseas. It was mind blowing to see the relief on their faces knowing they were safe and out of danger again. After taking some pictures and visiting with some active troops I headed back to Huron to be a part of their homecoming parade since I spoke during their homecoming week. It was beautiful weather and I had an excellent time!

I headed out to Hot Springs for the weekend. We had a fundraiser for the organization, a Victorian Tea party, I dressed up and everything. Wow, am I glad that I didn’t live back than the clothes weren’t overly comfortable! Later I went out to dinner with some of the Miss SD board members and made an appearance at Crazy Horse.

Once back on the eastern side of the state I signed up for my Miss America competition number! I am in the Sigma group. On the first night of preliminary competition (Tuesday) I will be competing in swimsuit and evening gown, on Wednesday I will be doing talent, and Thursday on-stage question.

I spent most of the following week finishing up some fundraising, working out, making phone calls, and meeting with others. On the 24th of September I went to a small, private supper to announce the keynote speaker for the 2010 South Dakota Women’s Expo - JULIE HADDEN! She was on the biggest loser and had such an amazing story to tell. She was absolutely hilarious and had all of us rolling. After spending some time talking to her she told me her husband and her met through the Miss America system. He used to be a judge. That was incredible to me and she said she hoped to make it out to Vegas in January to cheer me on!

The next day at the Women’s Expo I was the emcee. I spent the day running back and forth to announce shows in my high heels! It is a good thing my feet have been conditioned for this. I had the chance to give a speech of my own and visit with some women about it afterwards. I am glad that many people believe in what I am doing and tell me that I have gotten them to think twice. I had a great day at the Expo, it was so much fun!

I spent sometime at the Bauman’s Pioneer Seed Customer Appreciation Dinner Event and signed some autographs and took some pictures. It was by coincidence that one of the band members was the father of the South Dakota CMN Champion Children of the YEAR! I signed autographs for the absent girls and recorded a short video for them. What an inspiration.

Very soon after I headed to Vermillion South Dakota to crown a new Miss Vermillion. Congratulations to Jill Furan - we will see you at state in June!

I had the chance the following day to do a fashion shoot for the amazing Anita Kealy. She is a designer out of Sioux Falls and truly has some AMAZING pieces. I had so much fun shooting with her. To check out some of the things I was wearing go to her website: or check out the photographer’s website :

The next few days I spent in preparations for my fundraisers the next weekend. I saw Jim and Anna Simpson in Sioux Falls to meet about a commercial for the local CW stations. We recorded one so look out for this very soon!

I have been working on getting my talent music straightened out and I absolutely love it! You will have to watch for it on the Miss America Stage. It has a Latin vibe and the costume we are working out is fantastic. I am so excited!

The weekend of the 9th I was very busy. We had a 5K walk fundraiser to help me on my way to Miss America. A family friend Mary, helped put it on with her place of employment,the Center For Independence. They did such a wonderful job - even the shirts were fantastic. Along the way we stopped at the Center for Independence and they gave out free water. It was so nice of them to volunteer their time to help me out! Did I mention the first part of the walk was in the Harvest Day parade!

The next day I had a fundraiser golf tournament. We had a good number of teams and some awesome prizes. I do not golf but I wanted to make sure I was able to meet every one that came on my behalf. I sat at a hole and was a 5th bonus putter for the teams of 4 in a scramble competition. I made my first putt! I guess that is what you call beginner's luck. Thank you to all that participated. A big thanks to Bush Fullerton for donating all of his time to make it possible.

Next I headed to Presho for a fundraiser Pheasant Hunt for the Republican Party. We had kuchen (SD’s state dessert) and some other delicious foods. I had the chance to meet John Thune, Kristi Noem, Dennis Daugaard and many other amazing people. It was a great experience.

I had one of my ramp gowns altered - I am in love with it. It is black and silver!

The next day I spent packing and getting ready to leave for Rhode Island for my cousin Luke’s wedding. While I was there I did some shopping in New York. New York is insane! You could walk down the street and there were dress shops EVERYWHERE. That is a big stretch from South Dakota. I went to SAKS 5th Avenue and another great store. I am in love with a certain designers brand, I think they made their clothes just for me! Needless to say I bought the rest of the Miss America cocktail dresses that I will need.

When I got back to South Dakota I got up early to be a part of South Dakota State University's HOBO DAY Parade. It rained! Soon after the parade it cleared up and the rest of the day was beautiful. SDSU won the homecoming game!

I shot a story for Alex Hoffman (Miss SD 2008). If you would like to see it, visit her blog. It turned out really nice.:

Here is another story you may want to check out:
There are THREE parts to it. So if you watch one make sure you look at the others!

The next day I gave a Safety talk for some federal workers! It was great and I think my message resonated with them. I took another photo shoot with Anita the following day with some new materials. This will be featured in Sioux Falls Women magazine. So exciting!

I meet with Jim Simpson again about doing a fundraising commercial with fashion, health, and beauty tips. Look for these - I am excited to do them!

I spent the rest of my week working on my talent routine! We have it mostly choreographed and now we just have to work on perfecting it.

My judges came back for a pheasant hunt in South Dakota! I had the chance to see them again and shoot at some pheasants for the first time. It was a blast! Scheels donated a hunting vest and a hat. Sally Isburg thinks of everything and even ironed on a crown to each. She showed me how to make the most amazing homemade German candy. I couldn’t stop eating it.

I am looking forward to an exciting November. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Catching Up

Hello Again,

So any of you that are following my blog know that I am not very good at keeping up with it. Sometimes I have a hard enough time keeping up with myself! Here is another long one to keep you up to date on what I am doing now!

The rest of July was fabulous once I felt better from getting my wisdom teeth taken out! I went to a Pheasants baseball game in Sioux Falls where I helped out with the games between innings. They had me throw a baseball for one of the games. I am so terrible at throwing! It is ridiculous! People have tried to teach me numerous times, but I am not any better now than I was then. It was so much fun! I haven't had the chance to watch a baseball game in a very long time. They even won! GO Pheasants!!!

I have been very busy with fundraising. Being Miss South Dakota is expensive but so rewarding! I have been doing A LOT of shopping, but again, I am also taking a lot of time to fundraise for the rest of my year and for my Miss America attire. There are a lot of people I would like to thank for helping to sponsor me thus far: SDSU Wellness Center, Hills Edge Auto, McGillvrey Oil, Bauman Agency, Anderson Furniture, Vaillancourt Korean Martial Arts, The Carpet Center, Barti Metal, West Way Trailers, Vision Care Associates, Crossroads Event Center, NorthWestern Energy, Pro-PT, Huron Chamber & Visitors Bureau, Farmer's Cashway, Hurd Alignment, Schoenhard, Huron Regional Medical Center, Prostrollo's, MO Federal Credit Union, Cornerstone Financial , Fuch's Orthodontics, Karl's Appliances, Farmer's Union Insurance, American Bank & Trust, Red Wilk Construction, Carr Chiropractic Clinic, Precision Auto Body, Stoney Brook Suites, and Precision Planting. THANK YOU!

My birthday was the 29th of July and I was able to celebrate by going to Wild Water West in Sioux Falls. It was so much fun because I was able to take some much needed time to relax with good friends! On the day of my birthday I had a second photo shoot for my crown picture for my autograph cards. Evans Photography took an amazing set of photos at their Sioux Falls studio. I had a blast. I love taking pictures and modeling for them and Rod Evans was so much fun and easy to work with. Soon after that, I attended a birthday party for an older gentleman in Mitchell that used to be a member in government. I visited with a distinguished group of attendees and had a blast! Thank you to my wonderful escort Lance.

In August, I was able to attend the Children's Miracle Network Treat Day at Dairy Queen, in Madison, SD. This event goes on all over the nation. FUN FACT: This Dairy Queen location in Madison, SD was the top seller in the NATION last year. Thanks for your great service and donation to CMN! I signed autographs all evening and had the chance to talk with many young children. There is truly nothing like seeing a little one's face light up when you walk over to talk to them. Yes, if you are wondering… of course I had a blizzard! For the record, the midnight truffle is my favorite. I can't pass up ice cream.

The next big event on my agenda was the Miss Sioux Empire Fair Pageant in Sioux Falls. The pageant was held on the Front Porch Stage and the weather was so hot! I met a number of talented new contestants. Brianna Larson (Miss Sioux Empire Fair 2009) and I emceed the pageant. All the contestants did great job and Kelly Wismer came home with the title! Congratulations Kelly! Thank you to everyone that helped out—the volunteers, judges, and to the generous sponsors who donated to prizes and scholarship money for the ladies. I know how much it means to them.

There was a small fair pageant in Clay County Fair where I attended and watched all of the little girls perform numerous phases of competition. I was surprised and impressed with the talent these young girls had! After I left Vermillion that day I headed to Sioux Falls for the Fair.

The talent at the Sioux Empire Fair this year was outstanding. I was able to accompany Kelly Wismer, the newly crowned Miss Sioux Empire Fair, the night of the Lifehouse and Spill Canvas concert. We rode around in the golf cart for awhile and we both had some Fair food. I had some lemonade, naturally! I love fresh-squeezed lemonade! We had the honor of taking photo shots with both Lifehouse AND Spill canvas band members. They are two of my favorite bands! I was so excited. They played fabulously!

The next couple of days I spent shopping for my trip to the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Competition that was quickly approaching. I was shopping for attire needed for the various activities and appearances that I would be participating in while in Orlando, FL.

I headed to Rapid City South Dakota to support our Miss South Dakota's Outstanding Teen, Emma Thomas, at her trunk show. I performed my talent and watched Emma sport her gowns and sing her talent song. She is so talented and she is such a sweetheart. I am glad that I have the opportunity to share my year with her! Go Emma!

I spent the next few days in Rapid City shopping and spending time with Sally and Daryl Isburg. They are such beautiful people and wonderful hosts, and I don't know what I would do without them. Sally has opened my eyes to the world of protein bars. Now I am obsessed :). Thanks to KNBN in Rapid City, Jim Simpson and the crew, for helping me practice on camera and for the interview. Any chance I can get to practice the better!

Once I got back, it was a matter of packing and getting my things to leave for Orlando. Before I did, however, I helped out with the Habitat for Humanity Lucky Duck Pluck! People bought rubber ducks with numbers on them and the volunteers let them out into the pool. There were numerous prizes that were given away as we had some local firemen, the SDSU diving coach and SDSU Football Coach jump into the pool, one by one, to pick the winning ducks. I was the featured celebrity to dive for the winning duck in the pool which was a big cash prize. I did a back-flip! I signed autographs and boogied by the DJ before I left.

The next day I left for Orlando! It was the very first time I had traveled by myself. My first connection was in Minneapolis and I had to literally run to the other side of the airport in heels to catch my next flight. I am sure that it was quite a sight to everyone else. I made it never-the-less, barely in time for the first night of prelims! I had to hustle-hustle to get ready, but, I literally just made it as all of the other title holders were walking in to the auditorium. WHEW!

Emma did really great at the pageant and I was so proud of her! The poor girl is a vocalist and had laryngitis! She barely had a voice and pushed through her talent never-the-less. While Emma was busy and I wasn't, I spent time with her family. They are great people and her little sister Veronica was the best shopping partner! I even tried sushi for the first time ever. It was so much better than I was expecting. I will definitely have it again!

All the 2011 Miss America contestants took a 60-second on-camera taping of why we want to be Miss America. You will have to watch for me in October when they post the video clips. I hope you like it!

I met all of the other Miss America 2011 contestants when I was there and we spent a good amount of time together. We went to Disney World and I had so much fun. My favorite ride is definitely is Space Mountain! We met the Disney princesses and Mickey and Minnie. I had not been to Disney World since I was a little girl. It was nice to go back. Nothing makes you feel more like a kid again than a visit to Disney!

We went to a fundraiser after Disney World where there was an auction and we all danced until the night was through. Our feet were numb by the end of the evening but it was a blast.

We watched the finals the next evening. They crowned Miss America's Outstanding Teen from Oklahoma, Lacey Russ. Emma's roommate was Miss Alabama's Outstanding Teen and she was 1st runner up! That girl can dance! It was quite funny because at the beginning of the week, I heard Emma talk and she sounded different –was that a southern accent? I thought that maybe that was because she was sick? Then when I realized that her roommate was Miss Alabama's OT I realized that was why! It made me chuckle until, at the end of the week, I found myself speaking with a southern accent too! It is catchy - I don't blame her!!

When I got back from Orlando I geared up for my first dance class! Then I packed for the State Fair and headed to Huron. I went to promote my platform with the Highway Patrol and talked to many people about my story and the Dangers of Distracted Driving. It was a great opportunity for me. I was able to have some fun to! I love the South Dakota State Fair! I ate some Fair food, rode some rides, and went to the Martina McBride concert.

Monday was the Miss State Fair pageant. It rained all day long. The pageant was scheduled for outside but it was moved inside, thank goodness! Kristi Richter, our state ED, and Carrie Wintle, Miss Outstanding Teen 2008, emceed the pageant. Congratulations to Brianna Larson, Miss State Fair, and Cassidy Schoenfelder, Miss State Fair's Outstanding Teen! We were entertained by talented, beautiful contestants who all did a wonderful job! Thanks to the pageant director, State Fair contacts, Miss State Fair 2009, Theresa Knutson, all volunteers, judges, and sponsors! Your support is so very much appreciated!

When I got back to Brookings I had a photo shoot for an advertising picture for South Dakota State University that will be featured in the Miss America Program book. I am honored to represent South Dakota and such an outstanding school as SDSU! Go Jacks! Thank you for your sponsorship and advertisement!

Later that week, I went to Minneapolis to shop for gowns and other attire. I found something I love and it may be "The Dress"! My mother, Kristi Richter, my ED, and Holly Hoffman, my local ED, came with me to help. I hadn't seen Holly for months and I missed her very much! Watch her on Survivor Wednesday Evenings!

On the 12th of September, I went to the Children's Miracle Network marathon in Sioux Falls. They had thousands of runners from numerous states. I had the chance to hand out all of the prizes of the competition. I had the opportunity to talk to lots of families and people at the event and cheer on the runners. After I was done at the marathon, I traveled to Yankton, SD to judge Yankton Idol, a fundraiser for CMN. I was awed by the talent of the performers and I had so much fun picking this year’s Idol!

I just gave my very first school presentation to Huron High School (my hometown). I talked to the students about my platform - the Dangers of Distracted Driving. It is hard to tell my brother's story, but I really felt like they were listening. For those of you that do not know, my brother was killed in an accident caused by a distracted driver in May 2009. My brother was a passenger in a vehicle, with his seat belt on, when the driver (whose distraction is unknown) pulled out in front of a semi-tractor trailer truck and was t-boned from the driver's side. The driver of my brother's vehicle was killed on the scene, and my brother was airlifted to Sioux Falls where they concluded that his brain injuries were "catastrophic". I held my 21-year-old brother's hand as I watched him take his last breath. Now I am an only child and I lost my very best friend. All because of an accident that was 100% preventable. Distracted driving is an issue everywhere, and I am dedicating my year to reaching out and talking to students and as many people as I can about the reality of this issue. I was touched by a young lady that came up to me after my presentation crying and telling me “thank you”. “Thank you for raising money for the CMN” because she was in an accident herself last year and had a 99% chance of not making it. Children's Miracle Network helped save her life.

Moments like this one, that I have had wearing my crown, have made all of the hard work worthwhile! Sometimes it is so hard for me to tell my brother's story over and over again. I know that by telling it, I am saving lives, and that helps me get through the pain of it. Thank you for all who are supporting me! You are also the ones that are giving me strength and making this a healing process for me. I know that Kelson was there in the auditorium and I know he will continue to be.

God Bless



Thursday, July 22, 2010

My First Few Weeks


I was crown about 4 weeks ago and life has been crazy but wonderful!

Pageant week was a lot of fun, the ladies are amazing. There is no way that week would go so smooth without all of the volunteers that help in and behind the scenes. On behalf of all the ladies, thank you! I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the Hot Springs community - you truly make the experience one of a kind, thank you for your support!

I received my official Miss SD car which is a beautiful white Mazda CX7, thanks to Hills Edge Auto in Hot Springs. In case you were wondering, I named her Bella. I have already put over 3,000 miles on her.

I have had the opportunity to do some radio and TV interviews across the state. I have some still on the way so be looking out!

The Miss Harrisburg local pageant was the 26th of June in Harrisburg. I went around town to ask for sponsorships for scholarship $ for the ladies competing and most importantly THE FOOD! Pageant ladies love to eat, I know this from experience. We had 30 fabulous Miss contestants and 3 ladies took home the crowns. Congratulations to those ladies! We also had many teens compete thanks to Miss Callee Bauman Watcher who is a pro and recruiting. The women were not the only excitement of the show, merely a few minutes into the opening number the power went out! Being Miss South Dakota gives you some excellent improvising skills and I now know why.

I had the opportunity to head back to Hot Springs for the Forth of July parade. It was a lot of fun. I was pretty wet by the time the parade was done because it rained half way through and I was umbrella-less. Needless to say I had some applause worthy crown-hair. It actually rained on our parade but it was a great time regardless! I spent the remainder of the forth, once I drove back across the state, at the Lake and watched some fireworks.

While I was out in Hot Springs for the 4th. I spend time with Sally and Daryl and we did some much needed shopping! They took me to Mt. Rushmore on the 3rd and I signed autographs and took pictures for 3 hours - talk about one marathon smile. It was a great time. One of the presidents even commented to me that "no one has out done me at autographs". It was so funny!

The following Friday I took my official Miss SD pictures in Sioux Falls with Evans Portraits. He took some awesome action shots of my leaps. You will have to check them out once I get them up!

I went back to Hot Springs for the annual golf tournament fundraiser on June 11th and I spent some time with Lisa and Jeff. The golf tournament had a good turn out and I went around to meet all of the golfers and spent sometime watching them hit. It was a nice day with a small breeze so I put my coat on. I am always cold no matter what and everyone else was out there with shorts and a t-shirt and here I am with my coat.

I had an interview with KNBN in Rapid the following day, which was great, I love doing interviews. The next day I was able to talk with the Kiwanis Club in Hot Springs and the Republican Women. It was successful. I am finding the more I talk about my brother Kelson the easier the words are coming out.

Then last week on June 16 I had my wisdom teeth taken out. Yes, yes I did. It was an experience. I am still healing up! Tonight I am off to a Pheasants game in Sioux Falls. I am excited!

Take care, god bless, and drive safe.

Loren Vaillancourt
Miss SD 2010