Tag Archive | mnot

Heroes With Heart

I am WEAK… when it comes to blood, needles, shots.. BARF. When I was 19, I passed out in the doctor’s office while getting my blood drawn. While covering a story in pre-op before a patient’s surgery, I saw the needle and had to kneel on the ground before I dropped (which the doc thought was HILARIOUS.. click here for the story.) Even having my own babies in the hospital, getting IV’s put in made me lose my lunch.

Still, when I learned Westside High School was hosting a blood drive, I decided I was going to suck it up and DO IT. Every blood donation saves up to three lives; I could certainly withstand a little queasiness to do my part.

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I was so proud of myself – ROCK STAR STATUS! I squeezed that little ball and laid back and relaxed… until they took the needle out. WHOOOOOSSSSH!! The tech immediately jumped to my side and called for help…

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… and Gabby Henderson came to my rescue. Gabby is a student at Westside High (featured in this photo on the far left), and she has a special talent for taking care of people. I met Gabby a few months ago, when the Nebraska Medical Center brought the Stop The Bleed program to Westside’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies. Westside High students interested in Nursing and Medicine learned how to triage patients and save lives after an accident or tragedy. Gabby was also one of the student volunteers helping run the blood drive that day at WHS.. she helped fan me off, talk me off my ‘pass out’ ledge, and then sent me on my way with a smile and without any judgement the the Director of Communications for her district almost lost her cookies over a little bit of blood. You can guess how delighted I was to hear last month that Gabby was part of the state championship HOSA team (Health Occupation Students of America) who will now compete at the International Conference in June!

People like Gabby truly have a gift; they see beyond blood or sickness, and only feel compassion and a compulsion to help others. About 4 hours west of Omaha, Jade Vak knows the same calling.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“I have always wanted to go into the medical field,” Jade told me recently. “While volunteering, I have discovered my career ambition of becoming an Emergency Doctor.”

 

 

Jade is well on her way, excelling in her studies at North Platte High School, practicing hard work and dedication as a member of the dance team, and further improving her ‘bedside manner’ and people skills through volunteer work across her community.

That last trait is part of what compelled Jade to try something new this year; she’s competing for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

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“I wanted to further my communication skills and gain more self-confidence,” said Jade. “It is my passion to help as many people as I possibly can within my life. One of the amazing things about the MNOT program is that it gives you such an opportunity to help those in need.”

Crowned Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Outstanding Teen in November, Jade has embraced every service opportunity offered to her.

“My platform is Volun-Teen. It is about promoting teenagers to volunteer so when they get older, it is just a way of life,” said Jade. “I visit patient’s rooms to provide comfort services, I serve food for those in need, and I ring bells for the Salvation Army. You name it, I have done it! I also talk to volunteering organizations about my platform. At elementary schools, I read a story and then we talk about how we can help others, or volunteer, just like the main characters.”

To Jade, volunteering not only makes the world a better place, it is a potential cure for the ills impacting her peers and beyond.

“I believe the greatest issue for my generation would perhaps be technology,” said Jade. “We need to learn how to balance it with the real world. Technology is an amazing tool and has done great things for the world, but we struggle on the line of the technology world and reality. I suggest volunteering! It forces us (in a good way, of course) to look up and get out!”

And as Jade hits the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen stage in Omaha, hoping to win the chance to spread that message statewide, she’ll be cheered on by the woman who’s inspired her to help others throughout her life, crown or not.

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“My female role model is my incredible mom,” said Jade. “She supports me with everything and always tries to make my dreams come true, even if it means sacrifices. I think that is beautiful and I hope I can do that for someone else someday.”

Ironically, Gabby’s biggest cheerleader is also HER mom. Christine Henderson works with me here at Westside, and literally glows with pride every time her hero makes a difference in someone’s life.

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For both Gabby and Jade, that difference may very well be saving lives within a few years. Today, it’s simply making a child smile.. and sending out a smiling adult, grateful for the girl who helped her survive a weak moment.

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To follow Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Outstanding Teen Jade Vak, click here.

For more information about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program or to become a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook, or CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Twitter. You can also contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at KaliNicoleTV@gmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Competition takes place April 28 in North Omaha, Nebraska.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Shelby Blundell

NEXT.. Miss Nebraska State Fair Courtney Pelland

 

Vision For The Future

The first time I competed for Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County, I was contestant #23.  This year, 11 young women competed in the local pageant.  It’s not clear why the numbers are lower than they were years ago, but it is discouraging to say the least for all of us who volunteer.  It’s FUN, it’s a great source of scholarship money, you meet wonderful people; I could (and have, on this blog!) go on and on about the positives women take away from the Miss America system.  My hope is that more women and teenagers will hear about Miss Nebraska, check it out, and see if it’s right for them.

This year, a 16-year old student from Lincoln Southwest High School did just that.

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MISS DOUGLAS COUNTY’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 STEFFANY LIEN

(Photo courtesy of Jenn Cady Photography)

“Baton twirling is one of the reasons I decided to compete in a local competition for MNOT {Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant}, because of the talent portion of the competition,” Steffany told me recently.

Steffany isn’t just ANY baton twirler, she’s a 5-time world champion.

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“I am on the United States Baton Twirling Team, and will represent the US in Italy this upcoming April,” said Steffany.  The junior is also the feature baton twirler at Lincoln Southwest, and teaches baton and dance to children.  Her performance to win the title of Miss Douglas County’s OT was nothing short of incredible, a routine jam-packed with difficulty, including at one point, twirling the baton on her back.

Yesterday, I tripped standing up from my chair at Panera.

Steffany’s grace and skill are widely known; in February, Miss Des Moines’ Outstanding Teen Sophia Aguirre posted on the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County Outstanding Teen Facebook page: “Steffany Lien is one of my inspirations in the baton twirling world! I am SO happy she was crowned Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen! I wish her and your program nothing but the best!”

A connection spanning state lines (and state pageants!), hopefully the first of many for Steffany.

“I believe the Miss Nebraska Organization is a wonderful opportunity for contestants to make friends, learn critical life skills, and speak about a cause that is important to them,” said Steffany.

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For Steffany, that cause is vision health for children.  The pictures above were taken last September, when Steffany traveled to Peru on behalf of the Peruvian Lions Club Organization, delivering 400 pairs of eyeglasses to those who need them.  She also spent a great deal of time interacting with children at a Peruvian orphanage; sharing toys, dancing and exchanging hugs.

“When I got there, I saw the great need for health care in South American countries,” said Steffany.  “The trip taught me many things about life, including the importance of vision health.  I would like to do my part here, in the United States (starting with Nebraska), by helping people before they have lifelong vision problems.”

Steffany has also embraced partnerships between the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program and local businesses,  benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals, like Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

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Steffany at a local IHOP Restaurant for National Pancake Day, and at a local Dairy Queen for Free Cone Day.  Both nationwide events raised thousands of dollars for CMN Hospitals.

This girl is a PERFECT example of the wonderful, symbiotic relationship between young women and the Miss America Organization.  Someday, the little girl in this photo may compete in a pageant because she met Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Steffany Lien.  Steffany has found another venue to perform an innate gift, all the while growing as a young woman, and person.

 “I have realized it is much more than talent,” said Steffany.  “Preparing for MNOT has improved my speaking skills and confidence, which will help me now and later in life.”

These pageants aren’t about shellac’ing on makeup and waving from the stands; they are about recognizing the young women in our communities who have talent, a passion for service, intelligence AND beauty inside and out.

Do YOU know an Outstanding Teen?

Steffany is.  She’s one of the 11 incredible young woman who want to be the BEST in the state of Nebraska, and will hopefully inspire a new generation of Miss Americas.  They have goals, they work hard, they are driven and they never stop smiling.  That alone should inspire all of us.

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Follow Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Steffany Lien

on the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook.  To contact Steffany for appearances and events, please contact omahadouglascountyOT@gmail.com.

Click here for a special feature on Steffany on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page!

For more information about how to become a contestant, contact Director Kelsey Ellis at 402-980-1984 or by email at omahadouglascountyOT@gmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Kool-Aid Days 2015 Brooke Ludemann

NEXT.. Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Marie Kliewer

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.