Tag Archive | safe driving

Best Friends Forever

How many people, when they hear the word ‘pageant’, think of this?

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Tears through the confetti.  A cat fight over the tiara.

It’s kind of like when people ask me if news is really like this:

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Yes, Rob has many leatherbound books.  NO, we did not brawl with the other stations on the streets of Omaha.  And despite all of the pageants I have watched over the years, I have yet to see a cage match over a crown and sash.  Repeatedly, though, I DO see this:

Competitors who become best friends. Fellow contestants who end up being bridesmaids in each others’ weddings.  Women who lift each other up as they prepare to represent their state.. and continue to reach out long after their pageant days are done.

“The purpose of this competition is to become the best version of yourself. That means preparing in a healthy way. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. That includes lifting each other up and supporting one another.”

That was the message Miss Nebraska 2016 Aleah Peters shared with the Class of 2017 Saturday night, with Miss South Dakota 2016 Julia Olson sitting at her side.  It’s also one of the reasons a contender for the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen title signed up to compete in the first place.

Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Sydny Ridgeway

“Last year, my friend and fellow student was crowned at our local pageant,” Sydny told me.  “After seeing someone I actually know compete and win, I got the idea that I wanted to do a pageant.  I mentioned this to another one of my friends and we started competing last year.”

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Sydny’s venture into something new also became a test of persistence; she competed five times before winning the title of Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen in October.

“It was the best feeling ever,” said Sydny.  “I think that people need to know that doing pageants actually has the ability to bring teens and young adults out of their shells.  It improves a girl’s body image and many other things.  It’s a great learning opportunity.”

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This, from a young woman who has taken advantage of opportunities presented to her throughout her life.  A junior at Gering High School, she’s active on the Poms (dance) team and has danced for Tabor Dance Academy since the age of 3.  A German student traveling to Europe in June, who is also working to become a certified Emergency Medical Responder in her community. Sydny is also a member of the Class B State Champion Journalism staff and has written for the Gering Courier.  Simply put, Sydny describes herself as ‘committed’.

“I am in a lot of things, and now that I was crowned, my life is even more busy,” said Sydny.  “I have been able to find a balance so that I don’t have to stop doing something that I love.”

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In addition, Sydny competes for the speech team, sharing a persuasive oratory on seatbelt laws in Nebraska.  Driving safety is a message she’s extremely passionate about, and her personal platform as Miss Alliance’s OT.

“Last year, my cousin was in a horrible car accident, which caused him to have an acute brain injury and he almost did not survive,” said Sydny.  “If he were to have been wearing a seatbelt, it was likely he wouldn’t have had to suffer the severe brain injury.  I want to put the facts out there that anybody can get in a car accident, but there are also precautions you can take in order to save yourself.  Even if you aren’t driving, you should be practicing the right safety.”

Sydny is sharing that message across her community, as well as advocating for Children’s Miracle Network, the community partner to the Miss America Organization and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.

In the short few months since her crowning, Sydny has taken part in numerous events throughout her community.  She’s volunteered to paint faces, collect Christmas gifts, host Halloween celebrations, and collect donations that go directly to patients at local hospitals, like Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.  She is a constant advocate for service, and hopes to share more about that journey when she competes for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen this April.

“My favorite part of the actual competition itself is the interview portion,” said Sydny.  “Going into a room with five strangers and just telling them about my life is kind of exciting.  I used to be really shy before trying out pageants, and now I am able to talk to anybody.  I believe I owe that to all the interview and onstage questions in pageants.”

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And Sydny Ridgeway is ready to show the judges she is a cheerful, independent, outstanding young woman with or without a title.

“Even if I am in a bad mood or anything where I shouldn’t be laughing, I am.  I am always smiling or laughing; it makes me really happy,” said Sydny.  “My goal for the state pageant is to just perform the best I can and be myself.  Even if I don’t even place in the top, I want to make more friends and just have a great time.”

MORE friendships… in addition to this:

Teenagers from across Nebraska who will meet on stage, side by side with their classmates, contestants, SISTERS, who represent the best, the brightest, the kindest in our state.  Young women just like Sydny Ridgeway.

“I’ve made so many great friends that I probably wouldn’t have if I wouldn’t have done pageants,” said Sydny.  “That has really made my life better.”

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Sydny Ridgeway!

CLICK HERE for more information about the Miss Alliance/Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, or email Director Melinda Cullan at maot.alliance@gmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place April 21-22 in Omaha, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook.  For more information about becoming a contestant, email Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com

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PREVIOUS.. Special Feature: Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev

NEXT.. Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Katie Harris

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!

One Moment In Time

You know you’re a good singer when…

A) You are performing at New York’s Carnegie Hall

B) You receive a full-ride music scholarship to college

C) You know that under no circumstances should you ever, EVER try to sing Celine Dion, Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston at karaoke.  Just don’t do it.

Ok, that last one is one of my own personal rules. But can I get a ‘Heck, yea!!!’ from my fellow singers out there?!?!

I am merely a car-concert performer.  My audience is occasionally my two little boys in the backseat, and the poor souls in my neighborhood who can hear me through my sunroof. (My apologies.)  Today’s featured Miss Nebraska contestant is the REAL DEAL..

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Miss Western Nebraska Morgan Yost

I don’t know how she feels about option C, but Morgan is making A and B reality!  She is a busy young woman, participating in show choir and choir at Western Nebraska Community College, majoring in Pre-Dental Hygiene, all while making appearances throughout her year of service as Miss Western Nebraska.

“Not only does the Miss Nebraska/Miss America organization provide many scholarships and other wonderful opportunities, but it provides real-life preparations,” said Morgan in a recent interview.  “It allows a person to be themselves while serving their state and community.”

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Morgan has been participating in pageants for eight years, encouraged to try her first one at the age of 13.

“To be in a pageant, you don’t have to be pretty or perfect,” said Morgan.  “You have to be yourself, the person who God simply created you to be.  If you put your faith in God, wonderful things will happen.”

Morgan describes herself as a ‘farm girl’ who raises pigs, loves to sing and likes getting dressed up on occasion.

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“Pigs and pageants?? I never would have put those two together,” said Morgan.  “Pageants have made me into the person I am today.  There’s something that has brought me back each and every year.”

As Miss Western Nebraska, Morgan is promoting her personal platform to prevent distracted driving, which she calls ‘Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.’

“Over a year ago, my community and hometown was hit with many fatalities that occurred because of distracted driving,” said Morgan.  “Having to attend funerals of girls who I went to high school with was never part of my plan at such a young age.  I wanted to choose a platform that made an impact on the lives of others.”

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Morgan has teamed up with the Nebraska State Patrol to speak at schools and other civic organizations across Nebraska’s panhandle, encouraging others to not only practice safe driving, but to make it a habit.

“There is nothing that can compare to the possibility of saving a life,” said Morgan.  “Although good things do not come out of every situation, God will be there in the end to answer and comfort your heart.  We must trust in His plans and purposes for life.”

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Full ride music scholarship–check.  Singing at Carnegie Hall–check.  Making a difference as Miss Western Nebraska–check.

Let’s add one final option to the checklist:

You know you’re a good singer when…

D) You’re competing for Miss Nebraska, so you earn the right to sing whatever you want at karaoke!!!

TRUTH 🙂

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Connect with Miss Western Nebraska, Morgan Yost

on Facebook

Click here for more information about the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska pageant.

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The Miss Nebraska pageant takes place June 5-7 in North Platte, Nebraska.  For more information, visit the Miss Nebraska website.

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PREVIOUS POST..  Miss Chadron, Kodi Baumann

NEXT POST.. Miss Metro, Kimberly Brennan!

If Nebraska Had An Ocean..

 I’m going to date myself again, but any readers love the Little Mermaid as a kid?  Anyone? <crickets>

Hey, Brandi.. 1989 called for you…

Let’s recap.  The Little Mermaid is a Disney CLASSIC about a gorgeous mermaid with an even more gorgeous voice who wins the heart of everyone in the ocean and in the end, a handsome prince.

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If Disney ever makes a real-life version, today’s featured Miss Nebraska contestant would be PERFECT for the part.

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Miss Chadron, Kodi Baumann

(Thank you Judy’s Photo for use of Kodi’s pictures!)

The red hair, the passion for singing–she’s perfect!

When Kodi recently replied to my interview request, she included not only pictures of herself, but images showing what music means to her.

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“I love being able to put together a song and perform for an audience,” said Kodi.  “The experience is so exhilarating!  I love being able to share my passion of music with a crowd.  Hopefully it touches someone and they enjoy the music I create.”

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Kodi first started competing in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program at the age of 13, looking for another place to sing.

“This pageant system has become so much more than another stage for me,” said Kodi.  “I have been able to discover who I am and it’s helped me grow into an accomplished woman.  I have had so many doors open up to me because of this system!  It’s singing that is paying my way through college and without the confidence I gained from the Miss America Organization I’m not sure I would be here.”

Now as a student at Western Nebraska Community College, Kodi is part of Varsity Vocalize, along with two of her fellow Miss Nebraska contestants, Miss Western Nebraska Morgan Yost and Miss Scotts Bluff County Brittli Sell.

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“I have also created so many ‘pageant sisters’ that have become fantastic friends of mine,” said Kodi.  “I’m so lucky to call them friends!”

Kodi has also connected with a different kind of sister.  Her favorite part of the Miss Nebraska pageant is the Little Sisters program.

“This is a mentoring program that pairs young girls with a young woman competing for a title in the Miss America Organization,” described Kodi.  “It deals with sharing the importance of the four components of the Miss America crown: style, success, scholarship and service.  I know they have made an impact on my life and I will always think of each of them as my little sisters I never had!”

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Check out Kodi’s online photo album featuring her Little Sisters!

Kodi’s real-life brother inspired her personal platform of service, ‘Fasten Your Seat Belt! Cross Your Heart Not Your Fingers.’

“When I was a freshman in high school my older brother was involved in a roll-over accident,” said Kodi.  “He had a traumatic brain injury, broken eye socket, four broken vertebrae, broken shoulder blades, and a broken femur.  He lost a kidney, suffered a lacerate spleen and liver and had to relearn how to walk.  I want to spread awareness about wearing seat belts because not only did it affect my brother, it affected my entire family.”

Kodi maintains a Facebook page, devoted to her platform.  Check it out here!

FOCUSED, HONEST, ADVENTUROUS

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Kodi is honest about her feelings regarding the Lifestyle and Fitness portion of the Miss Nebraska pageant, also known as the swimsuit competition.

“I am someone who will always tell the truth,” said Kodi.  “I can’t help but feeling like [swimsuit] is a large hurdle for me to overcome for me and many others I’m sure.  I’m sure many can relate!”

(Blog author contribution… PREACH, KODI!! PREACH!!)

“But once you overcome that obstacle you realize that you can do anything!” Kodi added.  “Swimsuit is a very important part of competition.  It shows the physical fitness of all the competitors and plays a huge role in reflecting the woman’s confidence and pride in themselves.”

Kodi says she is focused to achieve that goal and others.

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And adventurous, the kind of girl who loves to travel and experience new things (like here, kissing the Blarney Stone!)

Kodi sent me one final quote, not necessarily about music but everything to do with her..

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Pretty sure Ariel had a t-shirt with this quote on it.

Nebraska may not have an ocean or any Little Mermaids, and Kodi doesn’t have time to search for the handsome prince.

She’s getting ready for Miss Nebraska.

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Connect with Miss Chadron Kodi Baumann

on Facebook and by email at crossyourheartnotyourfingers@gmail.com

Click here to get more information about Cross Your Heart, Not Your Fingers

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The Miss Nebraska pageant takes place June 5-7 in North Platte, Nebraska.  For more information, visit the Miss Nebraska website.

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PREVIOUS POST..  Miss Panhandle, Mindy Schreiber

NEXT POST.. Miss Western Nebraska, Morgan Yost!