Oh how wonderful it is to be a Washingtonian! The opportunity we have in this city (statehood, potentially on the horizon?) to experience the power of coming together for a cause is truly inspiring.
September 13, 2011
Bright and early at 8 am, my trainer John A. Morris and I filmed a segment about my fitness routine for the Washingtonian Magazine, as I prepare for Miss America. Because of our crazy schedules and some pulled muscles, we were unable to get together prior to the shoot. Don’t get me wrong – I’d been working out on my own, but this was nothing in comparison to the wrath of Mr. Morris. Even though we only filmed for about an hour and did shortened repetitions, I was in some serious pain the next day! While muscles ached that I didn’t even know could be sore, I smiled with each step knowing what the end result would be ! :)
September 15, 2011
Today I attended the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) breakfast, and listened to Sheila Johnson speak. Talk about inspirational! Sheila spoke on the key issues that women face in the workplace, especially in relation to breaking into a male-dominated industry. In case anyone is unfamiliar, Sheila and her former husband Robert Johnson started Black Entertainment Television (BET), now the number one source of African American entertainment. Sheila went on to become a successful real estate owner, and here’s the kicker: she is the FIRST WOMAN to have full ownership or be a partner in three PROFESSIONAL SPORTS FRANCHISES. Sheila owns the Washington Mystics, and is partner with the Washington Capitals (*swoon*) and the Washington Wizards. Her personal story and lessons she learned about connecting with other women and the importance of bringing each other up was so moving. So often we find this sense of competition and inconsideration for each other. Sheila emphasized that we all will endure struggles in our chosen fields, but the key is to form a network that makes the going a little less tough.
Later that evening, the Capitol Polo Club began their 5th Annual Green Cup Polo festivities, which “promote the goal of conservation and protection by bringing together committed parties to show support of those organizations that work to solve today’s environmental issues,” and is one of the most exciting events in DC. A black tie gala at L2 Lounge, an upscale lounger in Georgetown, was the first event. Talk about a fun time! Miss DC 2009 and Miss Maryland USA Allyn Rose joined me as we modeled eco-friendly couture from Oliver Tolentino, an internationally renowned designer originally from Manila, Philippines. Tolentino’s designs are made from all natural resources, including pineapple and hemp, and are biodegradable. While guests enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, we modeled the island-flair couture, and had a great time! Quite a few people said we looked like the Fanta girls – what do you think?
Proceeds from the gala and the polo match on the following Saturday benefited the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), as well as Equestrian Partners in Conservation (EPIC). Special guest John Walsh played in the polo match alongside President Robert Do, and received an award of recognition for this work with EPIC. The weather may have been a little cold and rainy, but there was still a fun time had by all. :)
September 16, 2011
The following Friday was pretty cool: Lauren and I got to hang out with Hayden Panettiere! The Heroes star came to support D.C. statehood with Senator Paul Strauss. When I heard about Hayden speaking out for us to have fair representation in the U.S. Senate and recognition as a state, I was so thrilled to know that a celebrity living on the other side of the country understands and supports our cause. I thought she was cool on Heroes, but she gained extra cool points with that! She spoke with conviction about the necessity for D.C. residents to have the same rights as every other tax-paying American citizen. She was really relaxed and easy to talk to, and a plus for us shorter girls: you don’t have to be 6’0 tall to be successful in Hollywood . Senator Strauss also named September 15th Hayden Panettiere Day. Hayden said she hopes, “Kids get a day off from school or something cool like that!” Perhaps maybe even a holiday for us working folks too?
We then headed over to Lima Lounge at the intersection of 14th and K Streets for the Global Party. The Global Party is a worldwide party that takes place in more than 80 venues around the world at the same time, and benefits 15 deserving charities. Venues include Okku in Dubai, Orient Express in London, and the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai.
I must stop for a second to talk about one thing in particular: THE INVITATION! In the mail, an invitee receives a rectangular shaped box that feels like it’s holding three bars of gold in it. Upon opening, one discovers two invitations, but not just any set of invitations, oh no! The invitations are actually fabulous key chains with reservation numbers on them, and a welcome message from the Global Party committee. In addition, there is a pamphlet outlining the various charities, including the Nelson Mandela Fund, Tusk Trust under Princes William and Henry, and 21st Century Leaders Foundation supported by George Clooney. The hardcover book is definitely one to keep, and the vivid illustrations along with the poignant descriptions of the benefiting charities show just how much the Global Party truly cares about their work. With delicious buffet-style food, bright neon lights on all four floors, and videos playing information about each charity in the organization, the Global Party was a smash hit!
September 20, 2011
The Putting and Politics Reception, hosted by First Tee of Washington, took place at a beautiful building on Constitution Avenue. In a room with wall to wall windows, there is an impeccable view overlooking our beautiful city, and I felt honored to have been invited. The reception was to honor 10 young African American students from Washington, D.C. who have excelled in the game of golf. All of these young men and women have been playing golf since before they could do multiplication and division! One honoree who struck me in particular was Hannah, a 16 year old golfer who aspired to create cosmetic and hair care lines that were all-natural and completely free of carcinogens. Her poise and eloquence were very impressive, and I know she will continue to achieve great things. Of course I told her about how she can become involved in the Miss America Organization.
September 21, 2011
I experienced something very cool for the first time: I participated in 104.7’s Mix for Kids Radiothon to benefit the Children’s Medical Center! I worked the 8-11 am shift, and let me tell you, it was super busy. The early morning show had listeners calling in back to back, becoming monthly donors to Children’s Medical Center, and helping out with numerous one-time donations. Geico Insurance even matched every donation for an entire hour, including monthly donors! We met each of our goals, and raised $572,385! I had the privilege of sitting next to Nurse Wayne, who had worked in the hospital for many years, and challenged each nurse in the hospital to donate $50. She said that was her mission of the day, and I could tell she meant business. I got a really nice tee shirt, which was great! But Dr. Bear came later, and I am huge fan of his, so I was a little bummed. But next time, I’ll be sure I get to see him. :)
How many women can say that they would shave their heads? No questions asked, just sit down and have your entire head shaved? That’s exactly what 46 women did during the “46 Mommas” event at Union Station, hosted by St. Baldrick’s Foundation. These moms shaved their heads to honor their children, who have been diagnosed with cancer. TV anchor Angie Goff hosted the event, and told heart-felt stories about each momma, some of whom have lost their children to cancer. It was quite an emotional event – especially when waiting to hear whether or not a child had survived.
I had the opportunity to shave the head of Sarah, the mother of 5 year old Josie. Josie had been diagnosed with cancer, and is currently undergoing treatment. While I felt sadness when I looked at Josie on the stage next to her mom, Sarah was beaming with pride while looking at her daughter. I realized that this was a catharsis for these moms, who have endured so much with chemotherapy, numerous surgeries, and a constant fear of what the future holds. But on that day, Sarah and the other 45 courageous mommas were taking a stand to show that nothing will break them down. Talk about inspiring! I stood next to my own mom, and she put her arm around my shoulders and hugged me close to her. Life really is beautiful. :)
September 23, 2011
Let’s get NFTE! This morning, I went to the Network for Teach Entrepreneurship (NFTE) office here in DC to meet my team for this school year. A little background on NFTE: we aim to instill the principles of entrepreneurship in at-risk youth, in an effort to help them learn how to become self-sufficient. Students are provided seed money to start their businesses and go on to compete in a regional and national competitions with their business plans and completed products.
With the start of a new school year, teams of us are going into schools around the city that are working with the NFTE curriculum. Each volunteer has his or her strength, and collectively we help the students to cultivate their ideas and think outside of the box. My team will be working at H.D. Woodson High School, and I am really looking forward to it. I’m sure that while I can teach them some things; I know I’ll be learning too.
I hurried over to The Institute of World Politics, where I was honored to sing the National Anthem for Major Tuwanda Williams’s ceremony. My dad was in the army, and I was born at Walter Reed Medical Center, but he was out of the military before I was born and soon after my parents divorced. So I never really experienced a formal Army ceremony, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity.
I have to be honest; standing in front of a room full of men and women in uniform is a little intimidating, especially when singing a song that represents something very special to them. But when I looked out at the crowd I was met with warm smiles. At the end of the ceremony, we sang the Army Song (which is a pretty catchy tune I must say). Sargent Tuwunda Williams was so appreciative for everyone’s participation in her special day, and will soon return abroad to fight for our country.