Tag Archive | childhood cancer

The Meaning Of Life

Guys, I’m pooped.  Not enough coffee in my house and not enough creativity in my head.  I’ve been sitting here, grasping for inspiration, and a moment outside caught my attention.. a little boy doing backflips on his trampoline.  Do you remember that?  Boundless energy.  No fear.  The adrenaline rush of trying something like a flip and boom–just doing it.  That little guy isn’t thinking about everything on his to-do list, or how nice a nap sounds right now.. he is enjoying every second of springing backward without a care in the world.

As adults, we take every moment for granted.  We don’t just jump.. we dwell on all of the reasons why we can’t; we don’t have time, we should be working, we could get hurt. But then I see things like this:

At 10:10 am on March 3, 2017, in his mamma’s arms, Trucker took his last breath here and went home to be with Jesus.💔💔💔  We prayed that his passing (and I say passing because we have hope of seeing him again in Heaven) would be peaceful, not painful and with ohana there.

This brave child, just 3 years old, died Friday after a valiant battle with cancer.  This morning, I just stared at my boys for a few seconds.  How do I ever take for granted each precious second God has given me with them? How do I think of anything but how blessed we are that we have two happy, healthy boys?

The simple answer is.. because we subconsciously have an ‘invincible’ mentality.  ‘This is so sad.. but it could never happen to me.’  We get busy with work and drama and what we think is so important, and we forget the everyday beauty that life truly is all about.  Even after 15 years of covering terrible things that DID happen to us, right here in Nebraska.. it takes moments like this to wake me up. To remind me to celebrate everything special we have and to never, ever assume the next day will happen.

“Life is too short to go one second without a smile,” I heard recently. “Whether I am having the most stressful day of my life or I am having one of the most exciting days of my life I always remember to stay positive and smile through it all.”

Miss Kool-Aid Days 2017 Krista Hinrichs

Krista is a brand new titleholder in the Miss Nebraska Organization, showcasing her own ‘live for the moment’ mantra when she signed up to compete for Miss Kool-Aid Days last summer.

“Before 2016 I don’t think I could ever picture myself gliding across a stage in a formal gown or speaking in front of hundreds people,” said Krista.  “One of my close friends, Chelsea Arnold (Miss Kool-Aid Days 2016, click here to read more) asked me if I would be interested in participating.  I always followed her journey and I thought it looked like an amazing experience.  I told myself to just go for it and see what would happen.  I was overjoyed to hear my name called as the new titleholder and it is a moment I will never forget.”

And since that night, Krista has graciously accepted and embraced every life experience that crown and sash have offered her.

“In the past few months I have had the opportunity to go to parades and perform, speak to schools about my platform and participate in so many fun events that I will cherish forever,” said Krista.  “I have been able to volunteer throughout my community and help others in need and find out more about how others live around me.  I have learned so much about communicating with others and being able to stand up in front of others and express what is important to me.  The Miss Nebraska [program] has given me more confidence than I knew I was capable of.”

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Krista’s Miss Kool-Aid Days winter newsletter

Krista also knows the impact she can have on children who view her as nothing less than royalty every time she enters a classroom.  She’s used that exposure to teach kids a lesson that will be important now and long after her pageant days are done.

“My platform is Distracted Driving,” said Krista.  “[This] affects all ages and everyone has a voice when it comes to protecting the ones we love.  It is important for older ages to be informed on the dangers they have on others if they are driving while distracted.  It is also important for younger ages to understand that even though they are not driving they can always remind their parents or older siblings that they love them and they want everyone to arrive at the destination safely.”

Krista does all of this; speaking at schools, volunteering at events and advocating for important causes, while studying at Midland University, where she’s majoring in Psychology and Art Management and performing for the school’s award winning dance squad.

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“I always remember to set goals for myself and push myself to achieve my goals one step at a time,” said Krista.  “Whether its working towards a first place award at a dance competition, achieving a high GPA or going for Miss Nebraska, everything comes in steps and each step will bring me closer to achieving my dreams.  While balancing school, dance team, family, friends and pageant events I have learned to make the balance equal between all of these activities so I can be the best I can be in each area.”

This young woman is making the most of every day, filling her life with meaningful moments while appreciating every person and experience.  Much of that she credits to self determination, compassion for others and positivity.. traits she hopes to impress upon others throughout this special year.

“I love taking any opportunity I can get to be a role model for others,” said Krista.  “This organization has allowed me to serve in a way where younger girls can look up to me and I can offer them words of encouragement and allow them to believe in themselves.”

Krista’s goals: she wants to take the feedback she receives competing and use that to improve as a person, while also supporting her fellow contestants in anyway she can. She wants to raise as much money as possible for the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals, money that goes straight to our local hospitals and doctors finding ways to save little boys like Trucker.  (To date, she’s raised $1857) To everyone who meets Miss Kool-Aid Days 2017 Krista Hinrichs, whether it be a little girl at a parade or a someone simply looking for inspiration, she offers a reminder to live in the now and to be grateful for every minute.

“I would be honored and thrilled if I was crowned the next Miss Nebraska,” said Krista.  “I also hope to always continue to be a role model to others throughout my life and be there for others whenever they may need me.  My final goal is to always be happy and positive and enjoy every moment of this amazing experience.”

My sincere condolences to those who loved Trucker Dukes, especially his mom and dad.  My heart is broken for you, and your sweet boy is in my prayers.

trucker-2

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To follow Miss Kool-Aid Days 2017 Krista Hinrichs on Facebook, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the Miss Kool-Aid Days Pageant or to become a contestant, CLICK HERE to visit their website, or CLICK HERE to visit their site on Facebook.  You can also emails Directors Angie Trausch at angie.trausch@gmail.com or Angela Keiser at angelakeiser@gmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska Pageant takes place June 7-10 in North Platte, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Eastern Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Naomi Turner

NEXT.. Miss Metro’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Jamie Chen

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2014-2016 click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Special Feature, Miss Nebraska USA 2014

“Who is Amanda Soltero.. and how do I meet her??”

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is Amanda Soltero, Miss Nebraska USA 2014

Georgina Vaughan Photography 2

..and NOW you know why my friend asked to meet her.

Jaw. Dropping. GORGEOUS.  If ever there was a time for me to write a blog using only photos, this would be it.

 Fadil Berisha Photography   Fawn Photo   1512677_10151810633546035_1505839912_n

STUNNING: adj. To astonish; astound; amaze: Her beauty stunned the audience.

(Photos courtesy of Rachel Imdieke, Fadil Berisha and Georgina Vaughan)

Believe it or not, Amanda seems to be just as beautiful, if not more so, on the INSIDE.  The same weekend young women from across the state will compete for the title of Miss Nebraska, Amanda will be competing in Baton Rouge for the title of Miss USA.  Today in a special feature, get to know Miss Nebraska USA, and find out why she wants your support representing our state.

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First things first.. what’s the difference between Miss America and Miss USA?  I think my fellow KETV anchor and pageant-graduate
Alex Hoffman put it best in saying these two organizations are the most prestigious, well known and respected in the pageant world.  They are televised, have history on their side, and have thousands of participants nationwide.  While many of the same young women compete for both, they are two different systems.

The Miss America Organization is a not-for-profit organization; The Miss USA/Miss Universe organization is a joint venture partnership between NBC and Donald Trump.

Women who compete for Miss America must be 17-24 years old; women who compete for Miss USA must be between 17-27 years old.

Finally, Miss America contestants compete in swimsuit, evening gown, interview and talent; Miss USA contestants do not compete in talent.

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Miss USA Erin Brady and Miss America Nina Davuluri

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Enough with the facts and figures… meet Amanda!

at Miss Nebraska USA

“I am determined to use my year to make a difference in people’s lives, especially children with cancer,” Amanda told me in a recent interview.  “You get one year to be Miss Nebraska USA and even though I come from a small town (Columbus, Neb.), I know I can still make a big difference by using my title to do so!  I want to show my state that I can make them proud by representing them in the best way and by truly making the most of my time with the crown, not just for all the glitz and glam.”

Just as each of the Miss Nebraska contestants have a personal platform of service, Amanda is focusing her year on spreading awareness of childhood cancer.

“Pediatric cancer research and awareness is very near and dear to my heart,” said Amanda.  “6-year old Sammy Nahorny is a family friend of mine and when they started Sammy’s Superheroes, I knew I wanted to get involved.”

with sammy

Sammy was diagnosed at 4-years old with Neuroblastoma, cancer that commonly affects the abdomen and adrenal glands and is very difficult to treat.  Loved ones formed Sammy’s Superheroes to show their support and raise money for research; more than 10,000 people now support the cause, including Olympic Gold Medalist Curt Tomasevicz.  Check out Sammy’s Superheroes online or on Facebook to learn more!

“When you see directly the effects childhood cancer can have on someone you care about, it really hits you hard and makes you want to help in any way that you can,” said Amanda.  “I knew that if I won Miss Nebraska USA, I would be able to give a larger platform for Sammy’s Superheroes and really get the word out how desperately funds are needed for research to find a cure.”

Sammys superheroes

Amanda recruiting Miss Arkansas USA, Miss Kansas USA and Miss Oklahoma USA to become Sammy’s Superheroes!

Amanda has also offered her support and time to Team Jack, the organization raising money to fight pediatric brain cancer in honor of Jack Hoffman.  Jack and his dad, Andy, are good friends to KETV, sharing their story of Jack’s long battle with a brain tumor, his friendship with Nebraska football player Rex Burkhead, and the now legendary Spring Game touchdown run viewed more than 8.4 million times on YouTube.

I, too, have had the privilege of sharing Jack’s story, and the fight he represents.  Team Jack has now raised more than 1.1 million dollars for pediatric brain cancer research, and has the support of tens of thousands across the country.

Click here to watch my story following up with the Hoffmans in the middle of Jack’s fight, as two other families lost little boys to brain cancer

Click here to watch my story about the ‘Year of Jack’ following the touchdown that touched America.

Click here to learn more about Team Jack online and on Facebook

Team Jack Gala

Amanda and Jack at the first annual Team Jack Gala

“I know that the more people that hear and see where their money is going, the quicker we can find a cure!” said Amanda.

It is THIS, not the fancy photo shoots or glamorous trips around the country, that Amanda enjoys the most about being Miss Nebraska USA.

“The appearances I have gotten to do WITH Sammy have had the most impact on me and have been the most meaningful,” said Amanda.

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While many state titleholders take a year off from school and full time work to focus on service and appearances, Amanda has not; she remains a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will graduate this weekend with a degree in Broadcasting.

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Amanda reporting at a Nebraska women’s soccer game for the B1G Network

But make no mistake; Amanda says she is ready to represent Nebraska at Miss USA.

“I want to make the people of my home state proud and go out knowing that I did everything I possibly could to prepare and leave no stone unturned,” said Amanda.  “I want to be a platform for the organizations that mean the most to me, and get others on board as well.  I want to represent myself, my family and my state in the best light possible.”

with family

Amanda and her family

Amanda will fly to Louisiana on May 25th, but she’s hoping to take Nebraska with her.  You can watch the Miss USA pageant live on NBC June 8th at 8/7 Central, hopefully cheering loud enough that Amanda will be able to hear you 1,000 miles away.

“My hopes for the pageant are to show the world what Nebraskans are made of and to let people know there is more to Nebraska than cornfields and flat land,” said Amanda.

And there’s more to Amanda than a pretty face.  This young woman is reshaping how children, families and Nebraskans think of ‘beauty queens’.  Beauty INSIDE and out.

miss nebraska usa

GO. BIG. RED.  Represent, Miss Nebraska USA!

Georgina Vaughan Photography

Connect with Miss Nebraska USA 2014 Amanda Soltero on

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

on the Miss Nebraska USA website

and on Amanda’s blog

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PREVIOUS POST..  Miss Alliance Staci Craighead

NEXT POST.. Miss Northwest, Alex O’Connor!