It's an absolutely humbling experience to have literally hundreds of people looking at you with their eyes telling a story of their own hopes and dreams.... There's a feeling that what you have attained for yourself--although only relatively short-lived, for a year--is a lifetime venture. It's a feeling of destiny. Laurel Lee Schaefer Miss America 1972
Each year I am part of a team that spends MONTHS planning 1 event however this one event is worth every bit of it. Each year the Got Your Back Network takes 8-10 families of surviving spouses and daughters of our fallen heroes to Las Vegas for 4 days with the culmination of the trip being the Miss America pageant. This is my 3rd year as part of this trip and each year my role has grown. The first year I felt that I was there more as a volunteer and observer however this year I was a larger part of the planning, the family contact and each event in Las Vegas. I must say that calling each family to invite them was a highlight; one family cried then another just screamed – I can’t stop smiling just thinking about those calls.
|Former Miss America's, honored families of our fallen on stage for a group picture|
After the pageant and our good-byes (everyone had different flights out Sunday), Kathleen and I headed out to enjoy the sights in Vegas a bit. We met up with a few friends and next thing we knew we were taking photos with the new Miss America Mallory Hagen! First I want to say that she is the sweetest young woman and seems incredibly down to earth, second of all we had no intention of meeting anyone besides our friends we had dressed down for the night and here we were taking a photo in our JEANS! Good grief! We also ran into Janice McQueen my friend and director of the Mrs CA & NV United States Pageant, then Gaspar Cruz and Miss WY Lexie Madden (another young lady that seems you could meet up with for a burger or a black tie gala). Kathleen and I along with the COL and LT Col were attended the ‘Formers’ get together where I was excited to meet Lee Meriwether and Leanza Cornett along with Heather French and many others; I may not have to point this out however this was a pageant girls DREAM as I watched so many of these women get crowned and looked up to them.
I left Las Vegas bright and early Sunday morning, flew home and then drove 2 hours to central California to be part of my husband’s Army promotion.
As with each year I am so grateful to be part of an organization that makes events like this possible, being able to meet so many wonderful women and their daughters and knowing in my heart that my family just got a little bit bigger. I am also thankful to all of our wonderful and generous sponsors each year because without you no part of this would be possible. I am already planning ideas for NEXT YEAR! I wish our new Miss America, Mallory Hagen, a wonderful year of memories and service.
|Cheyane meeting Coco and her sister at Planet Hollywood|
|Chris Harrison and I at Thursday night's dinner|
|with their Girl ExtraOrdinaire gift bags|