Last week I attended three appearances: the first was at Divine Providence Catholic School in Westchester, the second at Northern College in Dekalb, and the third at the River East Art Center in Chicago.
At Divine Providence I had the opportunity to speak with two groups of students -- one group age K-4 and the second 5-8. The younger kids were soooo cute and very attentive. It felt great speaking to them and was so much fun answering all of their questions! I'm just glad none of them asked me if I lived in a castle like the girls at Kelly's birthday party did, lol! The older kids intimidated me a little bit because I feared they wouldn't care about anything I had to say. Instead, it was just the opposite. They listened very closely and seemed to be taking everything I said to heart. They asked really great questions and some have even sent me messages since then letting me know that I have inspired them! Some even want to know more about the pageant as well as other things I do in my "normal" life. Its soooo rewarding to think that I may have influenced these kids in a positive way. Again, it reminds me why I wanted to be Miss Illinois USA in the first place!
Later in the week at Northern College, I attended two basketball games (one girl's and one boy's game) between two rival high schools -- Dekalb and Sycamore. It was a lot of fun! With over 6,000 people the crowd was rowdy and the energy was high. I was delighted to get to walk out to mid-court to present the trophy to the winning teams and also hand out some of the awards to the different sponsors at half time. I even got to use the big microphone to speak to the crowd while I was there, something I had never had the opportunity to do at such a large event! It was really exciting! I got to meet with a lot of young children as I signed autographs and took pictures ... and I truly felt like a celebrity as they yelled to me, holding out and waving around their arms to try and meet me as I made my exit at the end of the night. It really was an amazing event with a lot of truly wonderful people.
One funny story I have about the event in Dekalb though ... just to prove that Miss Illinois USA isn't perfect!! At the half time of the boy's game, they had asked that I walk down to the court so that I could hand out some awards. I made my way down there, with my mom and a few security people following in line. As I got to the court level I walked behind the hoop, past about 50-100 high school girls and boys all dressed in yellow to cheer on their schools' basketball players. They were cheering at me, yelling and screaming things like, "Hello Miss Illinois, over here!! Hi!" I turned to wave to them, but continued to walk toward the court. As I turned back forward it was time for me to "step UP" to the main court, not realizing that there would be any kind of difference in level of ground and completely tripped in the most obscene and obvious way ... in front of the whole stadium, including all of the high school kids! My first thought was, "Well, maybe I just got this out of my way now so I won't do it at the Miss USA Pageant!!!" After I presented the awards on the court I lead the line to EXIT, making an extreeeeemely dramatic step DOWN, just to sort of make fun of myself, creating light of the situation and letting the kids and the audience know that it is OK to laugh at yourself sometimes. They applauded and smiled, and I think all ended well :)
And finally, to wrap up the week I attended a benefit for Pediatric Cancer at the River East Art Center in Chicago. This event was neat because it was a group of over 500 people between the ages of about 25 and 35. We ate hors doeuvres including fruits and things from a chocolate fountain, and I sipped sprites and kiddy cocktails as I walked around the gallery space meeting the guests and taking pictures. At the end of the night, the announcer decided it would be fun to auction off a kiss from Miss Illinois USA to benefit pediatric cancer. I ended up raising $150 by giving someone a kiss on the cheek and a personalized autograph and picture. Yay!
So the week went well, and I'm looking forward to the three events I have scheduled for Thursday and Sunday of this week. I'll be giving a talk at another school, attending a benefit for diabetes, and then heading off the children's memorial hospital to make valentine's day cards with the kids! It should be another great week, and I'll be sure to tell you all about it as soon as I can!
:) Happy Tuesday!