Sunday, July 29, 2012

Special Olympics: Hillside Swim Club

On Saturday, July 14th, I attended the Special Olympics at the Hillside Swim Club with my teen queen, Alexa Moley (Miss Richmond County’s Outstanding Teen). Since I had never attended this event before, I was excited and glad to take part in the day’s activities.
I arrived at the Hillside Swim Club just as the opening ceremonies were beginning. Alexa and I were introduced, supporters were thanked, politicians spoke to the crowd (Assemblyman Michael Cusick & Councilwoman Debi Rose), and the participants were encouraged to do the best they could. After an enthusiastic, “Let the games begin,” the Olympians found their places and prepared for the competitions.
Alexa and I were led to the awards table, our post for the day. We were told that we would be the ones awarding the medals to each contestant. There was even a pedestal for the Olympians to stand on when they won.
The races continuously took place. After each one, the swimmers joined me and Alexa and were lined up according to their placements. Their names were announced, and we presented them with their medals. It was wonderful to see the amount of pride each Olympian had in him or herself. Alexa We received a lot of wet hugs, handshakes and I even got a kiss on the hand! ; ]
I’m so happy that I had the chance to be a part of something truly remarkable. The swimmers were making times that I couldn’t even imagine! I am so proud of all of their hard work and dedication and it was an honor to present each of them with their awards. Thank you Dr. Bob Griswald & Darline Woodhouse, for inviting me and Alexa to participate!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

4th of July Parade

Though it is summer, I’m as busy as ever. As you may notice, it’s been a little difficult keeping up with the blogging, but I’m trying my best! Since we're approaching August, I think it’s time to write a blog about the 4th of July parade!

On a sunny (and hot) Wednesday, I joined my fellow queen, Stephanie Accardo (Miss Richmond County), on Travis Avenue for the annual 4th of July Parade. Just like with the other parades, this was a brand new experience for me.
Travis hosts one of the oldest consecutive Independence Day celebrations in the United States! Talk about an honor! It’s amazing to have been invited to be a part of something with such a rich history behind it. I could tell that this parade was very different from the others.
We arrived at the “waiting area,” a nearby parking lot, and mingled with the participants. It was quite a diverse group of people; from veterans, to pogo-stick acrobats! We posed for many pictures and one even wound up in the SI Advance!

It was a very hot day, with record high temperatures, and I took every chance I had to get into the shade. When the parade began, though, it was time to brave the sun. I hopped into my ride for the day, which was a little tricky to maneuver at first. I had never ridden in a parade with a car like this before. After getting situated, though, I was comfortable. My driver was a retired doctor, too, so I knew I was in good hands!
The parade route was quite intimate. The "fans" were very close to us and I was able to speak with them from the car! One girl even gave me and my driver bottles of water!
I was glad to have been able to participate in this parade and though I was left with a bit of a sunburn, I loved every second!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

March Of Dimes 5k Race

On Saturday, June 30th, I joined my “teen queens,” Alexa Moley (Miss Richmond County’s Outstanding Teen) & Hannah Perri (Miss Staten Island’s Outstanding Teen) at the March Of Dimes 5k Race. It was a relaxing day spent supporting one of the closest foundations to the Miss Staten Island Organization, March Of Dimes.
In addition to the main event (the 5k race), there were craft tables, a race for kids, and a high heel race! My fellow queens and I decided to participate in the high heel race. I was under the impression that we were just going to jog in our heels, but the girls had another plan. When they shouted “Go” to start the race, Alexa and Hannah took off in their borrowed heels, leaving me behind in my 6-inch wedges. Well, at least I tried! Congratulations, Alexa, on winning the first ever March Of Dimes High Heel Race trophy! : ]
After our race, the real race began. Off they went, leaving the rest of us behind to browse the craft tables! These were local vendors selling their products. I enjoyed many of the displays and even came home with a few purchases:
Fabulous earrings from Little Angels
(917) 922-7930
Delicious jams from Heidi's Homemade / (718) 285-4732 or (347) 816-4713
& a cute little decorated box! ( I wish I knew the name of the crafters or had a picture!)

I even saw some familiar faces there! Current Staten Island Technical High School students, the Wagner College Seahawk, and even Sleeping Beauty!
The day was a great success! The March Of Dimes does wonderful things for premature babies and their families and I look forward to working with them more in the future. Thank you for having us!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gianna Nicole's Heart of Hope Foundation Gala

With the Miss New York blog done, I'm back on track with my postings! Now on to the past two week's events.

Last Thursday, June 28th, I had the honor of being a special guest at the gala for Gianna Nicole's Heart of Hope Foundation. I have to say thank you to Tammi D'Antoni for inviting me. She attended my benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation back in March and told me she would love to have me speak at the gala.
Gianna Nicole's Heart of Hope Foundation was created by Jennifer and Michael LaBarbera in memory of their daughter Gianna Nicole. This little girl lost her battle to leukemia on November 1, 2007, when she was only 4 years old. Though I can't say I know how her parents feel, I can relate to loss of someone close, especially from cancer.

"There are many organizations and charities that raise money to assist in the battle against pediatric cancer. There are very few, nationwide, that focus on the financial burdens directly for families battling pediatric cancer. The main goal for the majority of these organizations is aiding the financing of research to eventually find a cure, and that is extremely commendable and very much needed. It is OUR foundation's primary goal to help families currently in the battle against this severe disease directly." These are words directly from those who work with the foundation and I couldn't have said it better myself.
My mom and I walked into the El Caribe in Brooklyn, which was a beautiful venue. When we entered the room, it took my breath away! There were lights all over the ceiling, more baskets than I could count, and food covered the entire dance floor. When our waitress came over to ask for our dinner order, I couldn't believe we had more food to come! I already knew that this was going to be a benefit unlike any other I've ever been to.

After an introduction from Vinnie Medugno, I spoke to the nearly 440 guests. We enjoyed great food, baskets, beautiful tributes to Gianna, and performances by both Brenda K Starr & the Queen of Disco, France Joli. It was amazing to be listed as a special guest with these two women!
This event was more amazing than I can even describe. The love in the room was overwhelming and I know that a lot of money was raised to help families in need. Two families were even presented with checks during the night.
 It didn't hurt that I won 4 baskets - including a trip to Cancun, Mexico! Thank you, again, Tammi, for asking me to join you on this special night and to Jennifer and Michael LaBarbera, as well. Your courage is truly inspirational.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Miss New York Week!

Here it is: the Miss New York Week blog post. No matter how long I sit to write this, I will not be able to put into words exactly what this experience was like.
On Monday, June 11th,  I ventured to the Hampton Inn, right here on Staten Island. Though I live here, all 26 contestants stayed together in the hotel for the entire week. It was my pleasure to room with Miss Brooklyn, Maria DeSantis. She is not only a great friend, but also the former Miss Staten Island 2011, who crowned me in November!
After arriving at the hotel, we dropped off our bags in our rooms, and gathered in the lobby. There, I was immediately asked for my first interview of the week by NY1! I spoke with them and then was whisked away for our first set of group appearances.
I went into the Miss New York Pageant with some very definite goals: to enjoy my time, learn all I could, be myself, and make new friends. When I began the week, I honestly didn't feel like I would be able to handle this. I was terrified and I didn't know what I had gotten myself into. So many of these girls had already had experience with this pageant and I decided that I just had to give it everything I had in me.

We visited so many places, and did so many things, it would be impossible to write about it all. Here's a look into what our week was like, though:

Monday: Commons Cafe, Mayor's Office, 9/11 Memorial,
S.I. Ferry, Borough Hall, Dinner at Blue, Mr. New York
**Highlight of the day: Mr. Staten Island coming in 2nd Runner Up to Mr. New York!**
Tuesday: Anti-Bullying event at St. Adalbert School,
Eger Harbor House, rehearsals
**Highlight of the day: Joining my student group for an anti-bullying presentation onstage**

Wednesday: Rehearsals ALL DAY!
**Highlight of the day: Realizing how long I can last in high heels...**

Thursday: Miss New York interviews,
dress rehearsal, preliminary night #1
**Highlight of the day: Meeting the judges during interview AND performing my talent at night!**
Friday: Fort Hamilton, Coney Island,
dress rehearsal, preliminary night #2
**Highlight of the day: Taking the Miss New York stage in a swimsuit**

Saturday: Outstanding Teen Pageant, rehearsal, Miss New York!
**Highlight of the day: Watching my teens in the morning and making top 10 in Miss NY at night!**

For more pictures, visit my public figure page albums here & here.
For a highlight video from the pageant night, click here.

With early mornings and late nights, it was like a pageant boot camp! I was really surprised by the rehearsals - they were no joke! Practicing walking patterns for hours in high heels can really take it's toll on you, but if you pay attention, you can really learn a lot.

I wound up having more fun than I could've imagined and I learned a lot about myself. I realize, now, that I was crazy to think that I couldn't handle this. I can do whatever I put my mind to and I know that thanks to this experience.

I have to say that I am so happy for Mallory Hagan, our new Miss New York! She is a beautiful girl, inside and out, and I know that she will represent our state wonderfully at the Miss America pageant in January. Hard work pays off; She's been 1st runner up twice and has competed in the Miss America system since she was a young girl. Best of all, every contestant was ecstatic that Mallory had won! Just look at all of our faces in the background of this crowning moment:
For me, making the Top 10 was only a bonus to everything else I got out of this week. For my first time at a state pageant, I think I did pretty well! In fact, when they called my name, I was shocked! I left Miss New York more confident than ever and I look forward to hopefully going back next year. Look out...this girl wants to be Miss New York!!