Saturday, June 26, 2010

Miss New York-Day Six

Saturday had finally arrived!!! But way before the final competition, we made an appearance at the Colonie Center. We participate in a fashion show with wardrobe provided by the Red Carpet Pageant and Prom, one of the wonderful sponsors of the Miss New York Organization. Each of us strutted our stuff down the runway and got the chance to talk about our platforms. The fashion show was hosted by Mr. Delaware 2008, Chris Saltalamacchio.

Once the fashion show was over, we all headed to have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Unfortunately, we had to rush through lunch because the teen pageant was starting at 2pm (so no cheesecake for us).

At the Performing Arts Center, we cheered on the teens as they competed for the title of Miss New York's Outstanding Teen. I was excited to cheer on all the girls from Staten Island: Jordan Kolwalski, Miss Liberty's Outstanding Teen; Olivia DeVoti, Miss Richmond County's Outstanding Teen; Shelley Jain, Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen; and Joelle Braccio, Miss Brooklyn's Outstanding Teen. I was also extremely proud of Kara Kolwalski, Miss New York's Outstanding Teen 2009. She has had an amazing year and it was an honor to accompany her on some of her appearances. She has been an excellent role model for teens throughout New York. Congratulations to all the girls, especially Alison Stroming- the new Miss New York's Outstanding Teen!

Finally it was 8 o'clock....SHOWTIME!!!!! I was pumped, fired up, and excited for the night ahead. After performing the opening number in our fabulous orange dresses, it was time to announce the Top wait hold on actually Top 11! Due to a tie, this year a Top 11 was announced! Jessica Lynch Renzi, Miss New York 2003, began to name the lucky eleven. As the first three girls were called, I could feel my heart racing hoping that my name would be next. Sure enough, Jessica named the fourth contestant: "Kimberly Cantoni!" AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I was a little girl, I used to travel to Watertown where the Miss New York Pageant used to take place. I remember how happy the Top 10 were as they stood side by side; knowing they still had the opportunity to become Miss New York. I always wanted to be one of those girls and now, finally, it was my turn. This was one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life. Knowing how hard I worked this year, this was a defying moment for me. And now, the competition continues. Staying opened minded, positive, and focused, I competed in Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit, Talent, and Evening Wear all over again. And just like the night before, I felt confident about everything I did on that stage.

After intermission, it came time to announce the Top 5. Despite how great I felt about the way I competed, my name was not announced. I was disappointed that my journey towards the job of Miss New York came to an end. However, I was proud that I had overcome this roadblock in my life and was part of the lucky few who got the chance to compete again. It was also refreshing to see some of the girls from the Miss New York Class of 2009. Hearing them tell me how proud they were of me to be able to come back and make the Top 11 was so supportive.

Congratulations to all the girls, especially CLAIRE BUFFIE, THE NEW MISS NEW YORK!!!

Here are the very beautiful, talented, and extraordinary Top 11: Faren Collins, Amanda Mason, Keelie Sheridan, Jennifer Scacco (3rd Runner Up), Mallory Hagan (1st Runner Up), Claire Buffie (Miss New York 2010), Hannah Wright (2nd Runner Up), Inga Schlingmann (4th Runner Up), Kimberly Cantoni, Katie Martin, and Jackie Holmes.

Also during the night, I was the recipient of the Miss America Community Service Award. This award is given out to a contestant in each state who has been committed to promoting her personal platform and the Children's Miracle Network. It was an honor receiving this award from Marc Angeli, the Director of Field Marketing for Miss America.

My recognition for my commitment to community service continued at the afterglow party, where I was awarded as the Children's Miracle Network Miracle Maker for New York. This was the second consecutive year I was named the recipient of this award. It is given to the contestant in each state who has raised the most money for the Children's Miracle Network. Now many people have inquired how I was able to raise over $5,000 for CMN. One of the ways I was able to raise money this year was with the help of my high school Principal, Douglas McManus. He gave my the opportunity to organize a dress down day at Moore Catholic High School that raised a total of $2,690 for the Children's Miracle Network. $2,000 went to the Children's Miracle Network, an $690 went to the Haitian Relief Fund- the Staten Island Rotary matched the donation making it $1,380.

Receiving the Children's Miracle Network donation from Moore Catholic High School Principal Douglas McManus and Vice Principal Amelia Panfilo
I want to say a special thank you to my family, friends, sponsors, and the Miss Richmond County Committee for all their love, support, guidance, and advice. It is because of you all that my year as Miss Richmond County thus far has been a successful one. Also, thanks to the Miss New York Board of Directors for making this week a memorable experience. Your hard work and dedication is truly appreciated.
Heather Karlsberg, Miss Richmond County Committee Member

Amanda and Courtney- some of my amazing friends

My wonderful family who I would be nothing without

Looking back on this past week, I can honestly say that I can leave this experience with no regrets, doing everything I could have done right. I had a blast hanging out with the Class of 2010. I enjoyed every minute of the week. It's sad and hard to believe that "pageant week" is over. However, my responsibilities as Miss Richmond County are far from it. The job of Miss Richmond County will not end for me. I will go back to Staten Island and continue making an impact in my community until it comes time for me to crown my successor. My journey in the Miss America Organization isn't over for me as I have one more year to go- one more chance to achieve my goal. Until then, stay up to date with the remainder of my year as Miss Richmond County.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Miss New York-Day Five

Well, the Preliminary competition was upon us. But before we strutted our stuff on stage, we visited the Children's Hospital at the Albany Medical Center. The Albany Medical Center is one of the ten Children's Miracle Network hospitals in New York. We had the opportunity to visit the pediatric ward and a seventeen year old boy named Doug who was injured due to a car accident. The moment that made a powerful impact for me was when we visited a newborn in the NICU. He was only a pound...yes that's right one pound. Seeing this little baby made me think of all of my volunteer/fundraising efforts for CMN. For the past two years, I have been committed to promoting the Children's Miracle Network, raising a total of $5,007 for the organization. Those children make our efforts worth it. To see first hand how influentical we are as spokeswomen for the Children's Miracle Network is absolutely remarkable. We represent those children, who cannot defend themselves against illness. I am honored to be involved with this organization and cannot wait to continue my partnership with CMN in the future.

Several hours and a rehearsal later it was showtime!!! I have never felt so confident and calm during a pageant until tonight. By staying in the right mindset, I completed the night on a high note. I did not win any Preliminary awards, but I felt strong in every phase of competition.

Congratulations to all the Preliminary winners: SWIMSUIT: Claire Buffie and Faren Collins, TALENT: Hannah Wright and Jennifer Scacco, EVENING WEAR: Claire Buffie and Mallory Hagen.

Also, a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friends Inga and Hannah!!! We celebrated with cupcakes from Crumbs (which I am guilty of eating...half though).

Visitation was the first opportunity for me to see and talk to my family, friends, and committee. Their feedback was nothing more than positive and supportive. Many people approached me expressing their excitement for me; telling me how much I improved from last year. See, unfortunately I did not make the Top 10 last year...and I was devastated. I left last year's pageant feeling confused and lost. I had put my whole heart and soul into this organization and my platform, and for some reason the judges didn't see it. This past year I used that experience as motivation to not only rise above that adversity, but to also face my fear of history repeating itself. Keeping a clear head, I felt great about everything I had done tonight. I was truly proud of myself; and was looking forward to the final night.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Miss New York-Day Four

It's 8:45AM at the Community Center. I take a few last breaths and close my eyes, visualizing the event that is about to happen. The doors open in front of me, and I begin my long walk to the podium. Smiling at the judges as they greeted me, I began to feel this excitement throughout my whole body. Once I hit the podium, I was ready to begin what I had been waiting for all year: my interview for the job of Miss New York. The judges were clearly enthusiastic to learn everything they could about me. We talked about how I could market the Miss New York Organization, my platform T.E.A.C.H., my career ambitions, and some current events just to name a few. I felt this personal connection with each judge. With a blink of an eye, my interview was over. I walked out of that room feeling confident that I had expressed my passion and devotion to my platform, the Children's Miracle Network, and the Miss America/New York Organizations. I literally clinched my fists together and said "YES!" knowing I had conveyed everything I possibly wanted to discuss with them. This was honestly the best interview of my life!

With plenty of down time until rehearsal, I spent the rest of my morning working out at the gym, sorting through my competition stuff, and had lunch with the girls. The rest of the day was spent at the Performing Arts Center for rehearsal. You could feel the anticipation in the theatre was building as we perfected Friday night's show. We were all ready and excited to continue showing the judges what each of us had to offer to the Miss New York Organization.

**Congratulations to my sorority sister, Martha Price, who was the Preliminary Talent winner at Miss Connecticut!!!**

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Miss New York-Day Three

Today was all about rehearsal...and a little bowling. Our morning started with perfecting the opening number, learning our patterns for swimsuit and evening wear, and working on the production numbers. Lunch was held at the Town 'N Country Lanes where we did a shoot for Art's television show. I was a little nervous about the bowling mainly because...well...I'm not exactly the greatest bowler in the world. Actually, if I could bowl with the bumpers on the lane then I would be in great shape! However, despite my score of 41 (see I told you I wasn't the greatest), I had a lot of fun with the girls. I even got a spare, and I was so proud!

The remainder of the day was spent rehearsing on the stage at the Performing Arts Center at the University of Albany. All I have to say is that the stage looks INCREDIBLE! Rehearsal went so well that Kent let us end early so we could get a good night sleep for tomorrow morning...Interview!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Miss New York-Day Two

We began our busy day volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. I went with half of the girls to the restoration site where we painted, fixed up furniture, and baked cookies. My task was to paint the top section of the wall, and the only way to get there was by climbing up the scaffolding. I also worked with my predecessor, Jen Scacco, on fixing the doors of a cabinat. I had never worked with Habitat before, so it was exciting to have this opportunity to get involved with the organization.

We cleaned up during lunch and headed to the Capital, our second appearance of the day. We had photo ops on the million dollar staircase and met with many of our District Assembly Members and State Senators. I had the chance to talk with my local politicians: Assemblyman Matthew Titone (61st District), Assemblyman Lou Tobacco (62nd District), Assemblyman Michael Cusick (63rd District), and State Senator Diane Savino (23rd District). I even ran into Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer (60th District) as she was rushing to the meeting. We were honored by being introducted on the floor of the Assembly. During the introduction, I remember looking around the room at all the smiling faces of the Assembly thinking about how proud they were of us. Having this opportunity to represent them at the Miss New York Pageant is truely remarkable.

Our last appearance for the day was with Girls, Inc, a non-profit organization that empowers girls to pursue their dreams and become leaders of tomorrow. They asked us some great questions about the Miss America Organization and even got to try on our crowns and sashes.

Back to the Community Center for dinner and our first rehearsal with the fabulous Kent. Opening number=complete and looking amazing! Can't wait to work on the rest of the show!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Miss New York Week Begins

Sorry it took me a while to post about my week at Miss New York. I figured that the best way for me to explain each day in detail was to separate them instead of writing one big blog post. So here goes.... At 7:30AM, I drove up to Albany with my parents with one thing on my mind- the excitement and anticipation of pageant week. I had been preparing for this week for a long time (since I became Miss Richmond County to be exact). I was ready to take on the week in full force while remaining positive and focused. Once I arrived at the Empire Commons, the apartments that the contestants lived in for the week, I unpacked my things, said goodbye to my parents, and headed to orientation/lunch with all the contestants. It was great to see all the girls again as we geared up for an unforgettable week.

Our first appearance in Albany was on the Albany Aqua Ducks Tour, a land and sea tour of the history of New York's capital. My favorite part was when we sailed along the Hudson River. After the tour, we went back to the apartments to get ready for dinner. We headed to Angelo's 677 Prime by trolley where we were greeted by the New York State Board of Directors and the local media. I enjoyed probably the BEST sea bass of my entire life! The food was amazing!

Our day concluded with a meeting with Kenny Mack, the Executive Director, and the rest of the board. We discussed the job description of Miss New York, reviewed the schedule for the week, went around the room mentioning how many years each of us has been competing in the Miss America system, and participated in a survey that had interesting results:

~How many girls were born in New York state: 10 out of 2
~How many girls have competed in another state: 4 out of 20
~How many girls are aging out: 7 out of 20
On that note, the board gave each of us a goodie bag filled with Miss New York/Albany memorabilia before heading to bed.