Thursday, November 18, 2010

The end of another chapter...

As the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end". On Saturday night, I passed on the title, the job responsibilities, and the crown of Miss Richmond County to my successor. Wow, what a surreal moment...

The Miss Staten Island Pageant took place at its usual home, New Dorp High School, on November 13th. This was a special event as the organization celebrated its 45th anniversary.The Miss Staten Island Pageant is one of the longest local pageants in the Miss New York Organization. It is such an honor to be a part of this milestone as a former Miss Staten Island. As a little girl, I looked up to all the Miss Staten Islands as my role models, my big sisters, my inspiration. I wanted to be just like them; to grow up to one day become Miss Staten Island. And it finally happened in 2009. That crowning moment was something I have been waiting for my entire life. The opportunity to represent my hometown was an exhilarating feeling and an unbelievably experience. You can imagine I had the same excitement as Miss Richmond County. To have a legacy as the first Miss Richmond County to compete in the Miss America Organization is an encomium I will never forget. I also feel honored to be a part of new traditions not only for the Miss Staten Island Pageant, but for the borough of Staten Island. This was the first year the pageant crowned FOUR winners: Miss Staten Island, Miss Richmond County, Miss Staten Island Outstanding Teen, and Miss Richmond County Outstanding Teen. It is a wonderful opportunity that now two native Staten Islanders can represent the borough. I was ebullient to do so, and I know that future generations will appreciate the legacy that began with me.

Borough President James Molinaro and Jerry Ruggiero, President of the Miss Staten Island Pageant

Crowning my successor: Amanda Alicea, Miss Richmond County 2011

Amanda Alicea, Miss Richmond County 2011; Maria DeSantis, Miss Staten Island 2011; Shreya Jain, Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen 2011; Victoria Dugay, Miss Richmond County's Outstanding Teen 2011

Olivia Devoti, Miss Richmond County's Outstanding Teen 2010
Shelley Jain, Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen 2010
Kimberly Cantoni, Miss Richmond County 2010
Jennifer Scacco, Miss Staten Island 2010

Miss Richmond County 2010 and 2011

Miss Staten Island 2009, 2010, and 2011

Claire Buffie, Miss New York 2010

Jeoffrey Watson, Mr. New York 2010

All the local and state titleholders present at the pageant

My blog would not be complete without a post about my platform. November is National Lung Cancer Awareness month. Most lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking; it's the cause of 87% of all cases and is the direct factor of 90% of lung cancer-related deaths. Around 8.6 million are affected by serious illnesses associated with smoking, including: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, heart disease, pneumonia, acute myeloid leukemia and abdominal aortic aneurysms. Smoking may also lead to other cancers, such as of the throat, bladder, esophagus, cervix, stomach, pancreas, and kidneys. There are crucial short and long term reasons as to why smokers should quit. However, the clincher of reasons to quit: it's as simple as to save your life.

Today marks the 35th annual Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Smokers are encouraged to make a plan to quit or quit smoking today. The Great American Smokeout challenges smokers to stop using tobacco and helps them become more aware of the tools they can use to quit for good. Tobacco use remains to be the world's most preventable cause of death. So let's start to end this epidemic by help smokers quit the habit, and educating non-smoker (especially our children) to never start smoking. Students from PS 29 on Staten Island submitted short stories and poetry to the Staten Island Advance about the Great American Smokeout. Here is a poem that struck my interest, proving that children do know what smoking is and the dangers it causes:
"If you never smoked, please don't start!
And if you have, you'll tear yourself apart.
Listen up, don't ever smoke,
Because what I'm saying isn't a joke.
When I pass a smoker, there are tears in my eyes.
I hope he has said his last good-byes.
If you've never smoked, please don't try it.
If you see it in the store, please don't but it.
If you think it's cool
You're a fool."

Before I wrap up my blog I wanted to share an exciting announcement that I'm happy to share with you all on my last blog post...drum roll please...THE MISS NEW YORK PAGEANT IS COMING TO STATEN ISLAND!!! Words cannot describe how happy I am that the Miss New York Organization has chosen Staten Island as the new home for Miss New York. Here is the press release in the Staten Island Advance. You can also check out all the amazing things Staten Island has to offer at SINY- Proud of It!
Well, the time has come to say good-bye as your Miss Richmond County. It has been an amazing journey, one that I am happy I had the opportunity to share with all of you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Marriage Can Be Murder

Howdy y'all!!! I had an amazing weekend in Warrensburg, New York at the Ridin' Hy Ranch. Kill-Her Entertainment presented a three day murder mystery extravaganza titled Marriage Can Be Murder. The object of this show is to have the audience figure out who is the murderer, what their motive was, and the evidence. Clues were provided during the show and on certain activities to help audience members solve the crime. The person who correctly guesses the murderer, motive, and evidence wins a gift certificate to the ranch. My character, Jilly Bean, was the maid of honor to her Bridezilla sister Betty Lou. I had a blast playing Jilly mainly because I was a suspect in the murders! (don't worry I didn't do it). I also got to teach the audience the Boot Scootin' Boogie line dance. The cast did get a chance to enjoy everything the ranch had to offer during some much needed downtime. We even got to go horseback riding! My horse, Shortcake, was adorable but clearly wanted to go faster than I was allowed to ride. The weekend was truly successful, leaving with a set date for next year and some very excited patrons who cannot wait to see what we have in store for next year.


Teaching the Boot Scootin' Boogie

Boot Scootin' Boogie

The Wedding Scene

The Cast with the Winner of the Murder Mystery

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Smoke Alarm

I was reading this week's Time Magazine when I came across an interesting article about thirdhand smoke. Unlike secondhand smoke, which is the toxins nonsmokers inhale when someone is smoking nearby, thirdhand smoke can remain long after the cigarette has been finished. Research has shown that the harmful compounds in tobacco residue that get embedded in clothing, hair, furniture and almost any other exposed surface may still be active enough to cause health problems, especially sudden infant death syndrome as well as asthma, allergies, and other respiratory ailments in young children. Nicotine levels are relatively constant in a room where a smoker lights up regularly. This is because the residue does not dissipate along with the smoke. It is also proven through the Berkeley National Laboratory that children living in apartment buildings who have smoking neighbors but no smokers in their own unit have double the level of cotinine (a remnant of metabolized nicotine) in their blood compared with children living in single family homes without smokers. The current evidence surrounding thirdhand smoke should be enough to convince parents that no level of cigarette smoke exposure is safe for their children, let alone themselves. If you are still unsure if thirdhand smoke is actually that dangerous to your health, "here's a bit of advice for the families of the more than 22 million children in the U.S. who are exposed to smoke in the home: it's not enough to have smokers stand outside on the porch---unless they're planning to take a shower and change their clothes before they rejoin the party in the living room".

Don't forget that today is ELECTION DAY! You still have time to get out to the polls and HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reduction in Smoking-Related Deaths

Happy Halloween! In the spirit of this festive day, I wanted to share a real treat for New Yorkers. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported on Thursday that there are fewer New Yorkers dying from smoking. Smoking-related deaths dropped by 17% over much of the last decade. Some 8,700 residents were killed by smoking-related illnesses in 2002, compared to about 7,200 last year.

Quitters can look forward to more immediate benefits, according to the National Cancer Institute. Levels of carbon monoxide in the blood, which restricts the travel of oxygen through the body, begin to fall within hours. Circulation picks up within weeks, and in that time quitters are coughing and wheezing less, and producing less phlegm. Heart rate and blood pressure start to decline to normal levels, as well.

Over the long term, stubbing out the cigarettes cuts heart disease risk and cancer. The younger you are when you quit, the lower your chances of dying from those diseases. Stopping by age thirty reduces your risk by 90%; stopping by age fifty lowers those chances by half compared to people who continue to smoke.

The damaging effects of smoking may be more permanent for people who pick up the habit in their teens because their bodies are smaller and therefore get more exposure to the toxic chemicals in cigarettes. This fact solidifies my platform's message on the importance for kids to never start smoking. However, five to ten years out from quitting, the risks for cancer or heart disease or stroke are pretty much the same as for a nonsmoker. So, it is definitely worth it to quit smoking.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Media Attention!

Remember when I participated in Miracle Jeans Day with Silver Lake Specialized Care Center? Well, WE MADE THE NEWSPAPER! We were featured in Sunday's Staten Island Advance. Here is the picture and the caption straight from the local paper:


Staffers at Silver Lake Specialized Care Center, Brighton Heights, participated in the second annual Miracle Jeans Day. Kimberly Cantoni, Miss Richmond County 2010, and staffers teamed with the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System Foundation to "go casual for kids by trading their business attire for jeans. Miracle Jeans Day was developed by the Children's Miracle Network, an international non-profit organization that raises funds for more than 170 children's hospitals. Nearly $26,000 was raised for the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, which has partnered with CMN.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hauntingly Health Fair

As my year as Miss Richmond County draws to an end, so does my appearances throughout Staten Island. Today I made my last appearance as Miss Richmond County. I was invited to promote my platform as the Staten Island University Hospital North Kids Health Fair at the Irving R. Boody, Jr. Medical Arts Pavilion. Kids from the ages of 2-12 enjoyed a day of helpful tips in order to stay fit and health. Not only did I have the opportunity to talk to the kids about living smoke free lives, but I distributed over one hundred of my T.E.A.C.H. packets. Other activities for the kids were dental screenings, speech and hearing screenings, crafts table provided by the Staten Island Children's Museum and Staten Island University Hospital, fire safety, face painting, and even a magician. This appearance was a rewarding way for me to round out my year. I was able to start and end my reign promoting T.E.A.C.H., my national recognized platform that has been a positive impact to children throughout New York. Every time a child says to me that because of T.E.A.C.H. he/she will never start smoking, it is a constant reminder of why I am involved in the Miss America Organization. Being Miss Richmond County has given me a voice to project all of my issues of concern, to make a difference in my community, and to be a role model to everyone whose lives I have touched.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk

Sweet Sixteens are always a special occasion that mark a milestone. The American Cancer Society Staten Island Region marked another milestone by celebrating its Sweet Sixteen for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. The annual walk took place at its usual destination, Clove Lakes Park. I was the Team Captain for Silver Lake Specialized Care Center, which raised $441 for the event. There were some familiar faces present at the walk that included Shelley Jain (Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen 2010), Christina Moore (Miss Brooklyn 2011), Martha Price (Miss Bristol 2010) and my beautiful Alpha Delta Pi sorority sisters. Many Staten Islanders come out to this walk year after year, rain or shine, to remember those women and men who have lost their battles with breast cancer and to honor the courageous ones who have survived. Luckily, it was a gorgeous day to come out to the park and walk to create a world full of more birthdays, more milestones, and more hope for a cure.

Team Silver Lake

Christina Moore, Miss Brooklyn 2011

Shelley Jain, Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen 2010

My Alpha Delta Pi Sisters

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Class of 2011 is Underway!

The Miss New York Class of 2011 is starting to flourish as local pageants are beginning to crown their new titleholders. Congratulations to all the girls and much success during your year of service. Here are the titleholders who so far make up the Class of 2011:

Miss Thousand Islands 2011: Morgan Bocciolatt
Miss Buffalo 2011: Desiree Wiley
Miss Forest Queen 2011: Allison Carlos
Miss Brooklyn 2011: Christina Moore
Miss Kings County 2011: Carmen Mendoza

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Parades and Picnics

Another busy weekend! My day started at the 20th annual Staten Island Columbus Day Parade in New Dorp. This is my third year participating in the parade as a titleholder. However, I have been dancing down New Dorp Lane with several dance studios for a number of years. This parade means a lot to me because it gives me the opportunity to celebrate my Italian-American heritage. Shelley Jain, Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen 2010, joined me down the parade route. The parade was sponsored by Borough President James P. Molinaro and co-sponsored by Councilman James Oddo.

Congressman Michael McMahon

SI Live Photo

This was the first year that the SIPE (Staten Island Pride Events) was represented at the parade. Which brings me to my next appearance...the Coming Out Picnic in New Brighton. The LGBT Community hosts their annual picnic at the Unitarian Church. Once the parade was over, I headed straight to the picnic to join in on the festivities. Claire Buffie, Miss New York 2010, was one of the guest speakers. Her platform, "Straight for Equality:Let's Talk", focuses on the equality amongst youth, teens and adults. Jennifer Scacco (Miss Staten Island 2010), Jeoffrey Watson (Mr. New York) and members of the Miss New York Organization as well as the Miss Staten Island Organization were among the attendees.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Borough Hopping

What an eventful day! It all started in Brooklyn at the Miss Brooklyn Organization's Flapjack Fundraiser. I went to Applebee's in the Atlantic Terminal Market to enjoy some pancakes and bacon (YUM!) while supporting the Miss Brooklyn Scholarship Organization. Besides Mallory Hagan (Miss Brooklyn 2010) and Joelle Bracco (Miss Brooklyn's Outstanding Teen 2010), joining me at the event included Claire Buffie (Miss New York 2010), Alison Stroming (Miss New York's Outstanding Teen 2010), and Hannah Wright (Miss Metropolitan 2010).

After the fundraiser, Claire, Hannah, and I headed into Manhattan to participate in the American Cancer Society's LGBT Relay for Life. Now, I have been involved with Relay for Life events for a number of years. However, this was the first Relay for Life dedicated to the LGBT community. The event took place inside the World Financial Center Atrium. We were surprised that the event was indoors instead of outdoors; usually Relay for Life takes place outside. Nevertheless, we had a great time and met some amazing people.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Miracle Jeans Day

The second annual Miracle Jeans Day is a one day Children's Miracle Network nation-wide event where employees and local businesses are invited to go casual for kids. Since I am a big advocate for the Children's Miracle Network, I organized my own Miracle Jeans Day at Silver Lake Specialized Care Center. My fellow employees and I raised donations by selling the Miracle Jeans Day button. Everyone had a blast dressing down for this great organization. We partnered up with the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System Foundation. All proceeds went to the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park. It is one of the ten Children's Miracle Network in New York.