Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cal Lu University Relay for Life

A BIG congratulations to my friend, Cristina Markiewicz, who championed California Lutheran University's first Relay for Life. It was a huge undertaking but all your hard worked payed off. There were over 400 Participants, 38 Teams, and $41,422 was raised!!

My sister titleholder, Miss Teen California International Amanda Jenkins, came down from Northern California to lead a team of her own. Jr Miss California International Chelsea Vuong and her family also joined us as well. It was so nice to get together to support Amanda's team, "Too Inspired to be Tired". During the day, we walked for those battling this deadly disease and at night we remembered those who had passed and are now looking down upon us. Today I walked in memory of my grandma, Kay, who lost her short battle to cancer 6 years ago. I can not tell you how much I was moved by the testimonials of the survivors that spoke during the event. I know that it took a great deal of courage for each of you to get on stage and share your story of your battle with cancer. I am honored to have walked today for such a great cause.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thousand Oaks Youth Leadership Summit

It is always so inspiring to me when the youth of our community feel empowered to go above and beyond and make a difference in the world. It was an honor to be the keynote speaker at the Thousand Oaks Youth Leadership Summit today. I spoke about my life experiences, how those experiences shaped me into the person I am today, and why I choose to make a difference and lead a life dedicated to philanthropy. This group of youth all have an intense interest in leading their peers to success and I was impressed to find that many of them have founded organizations of their own. Choosing to make a difference is not always easy but well worth your time and effort in the end. Continue to strive to for success and keep up the great work.

You are all truly inspiring!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Royal Image Boutique

Raeanne Duca, the owner of Royal Image Boutique, was one of the esteemed judges when I was blessed with the title of Miss California International 2012. As a part of my prize package, Raeanne flew me to Colorado to shop at her gorgeous dress store. She graciously housed me in her lovely home and I had the privilege of spending time with her and her son Jona. I had such a great time getting to know Raeanne, she is beautiful from the inside out. Her heart is one of gold and she truly loves making every girl find the dress of her dreams. On Saturday, my beautiful sister titleholder Mrs. California International, Jessica, joined us along with our amazing director Eddie Peterson. We spent the day shopping and the evening bonding while watching pageant videos at Raeanne's house. The memories that I have from this trip I will cherish for a lifetime. Thank you Raeanne for everything!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Visit to Blanche Reynolds Elementary

Today I decided to visit to my old elementary school, Blanche Reynolds. I have not been back since the day the police and social workers came to pick me up from there 11 years ago. Principal Paul Jablonowski was so welcoming. He took the time to go through the history of class pictures to see what years I attended and who my teachers were. He then gave me special permission to take a tour of the school that was guided by none other than my preschool teacher, Miss Susman. During my tour I visited my old kindergarten classroom. I was asked to speak to two after school groups, who were both surprised to find out that I used to be homeless and were elated that I had gone to their current school when I was a young girl. Many of the children I was speaking with could relate to my childhood and were eager to ask questions about how I was able to survive. It is always a heart warming moment knowing that the little questions I am answering are providing these children with much needed hope and strength for them to endure the hardships that they face in their lives. Each child was more than excited to get a signed picture or autograph from Miss California International. In life it can be difficult to revisit the past and often it cause old memories to resurface. While I had been somewhat apprehensive to go back in time and visit my beginnings, I can honestly say that after seeing the look of adoration on the children's faces and hearing each of them share their dreams with me, I am more than glad that I did go back. Thank you to everyone at Blanche Reynolds for making my return visit so loving and memorable. And thank you Las Posas after school program for opening your doors and hearts to me as well. I am honored to have met each and everyone of you.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ventura Retired Business & Professional Men's Club

Today I spoke with the Retired Business & Proffessional Men's Club at the Ventura Elks Lodge. This club consists of over 120 retired men who meet once a month to listen to the speaker for the day, discuss a little business, but mostly they get together to enjoy one another's company. In honor of me being their featured speaker, a couple of the men put together a "pageant" skit that had me laughing. Thank you to Glenn Gooss and Jerry Nelson and the rest of this wonderful cluub for having me as your speaker. I truly enjoyed it!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Blackjack Winter Cup - Las Vegas Nevada

My younger brother Hunter is a Level 6 competitive gymnasts for Victory Gymnastics Academy. Our travels found us in Vegas, Nevada this past weekend for the Blackjack Winter Cup. At the same time the Olympic qualifications were happening and my family and myself made sure to place ourselves in front of the Horizontal Bar; my brother's favorite apparatus. While at the event, I made sure to snag a picture with Jonathon Horton. Jonathon Horton is the 2008 Olympic silver medalist on high bar, 2010 Worlds all-around bronze medalist, a three-time American Cup all-around champion, and the 2010 World all-around bronze medalist. The following day my brother competed and rocked on the pommel. At the awards ceremony he took first on pommel and 6th all around. Way to go Hunter, I am so proud of you!