Hey everyone!! Make sure to tune in to the Utica Children's Miracle Network Radiothon today and catch my on-air interview! I got the chance to speak a bit about the Miss America Organization's involvement with CMN and why I feel CMN is such a great organization. There are miracles happening at these hospitals every day. Be part of the miracle, support your local Children's Miracle Network Hospital!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Just finished up lunch with the South Shore Rotary on Staten Island. It was great to go back to the place where my journey began, and to personally thank some of the people who were such key players in making Staten Island the home of the Miss New York Pageant.
I want to thank today's speaker, Jamie DePasquale, Director of Development for Special Olympics New York. Thank you for giving your afternoon to inform us about the work being done through your organization. My family experience helped me learn from an early age how important programs like this can be for not just those living with disabilities, but entire communities. I must further thank Special Olympic Athlete Luis Lopez for sharing the story of his 40 year journey with the organization. He got involved at age 6, when he had no parents and was living in a group home. He is now a multi-sport athlete and major voice for the organization. He even met his bride-to-be, a multiple gold metal winner at the International games, through Special Olympics (congratulations, Lisa!!) His attitude is enviable. At one point he explained how his disability may be a weakness, but it is outweighed by the skills and strengths he has discovered and developed in himself. He does not let the lack of an ability define him. Would not every man benefit from a dose of this perspective? Like I always said about my siblings, their disabilities are scratches on the surface of a much bigger person inside.
Big thanks to the South Shore Rotary for welcoming me as a guest, and to Jamie and Luis for speaking so beautifully about your work... I look forward to getting involved!!
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011
This evening I celebrated the launch of new fashion line Beloved Star at the Dream Hotel in Manhattan. Designer Priya Scroggins has created a line of Indian inspired beach and resort ware that incorporates luxurious detail and makes every woman look great.
How do I know this? Besides the poolside runway show, Priya had herself and her many friends wearing her new designs throughout the night so that guests could see up-close the detailing that went into each design. I am big on the details. Too many designers slap on some stones and call it finished, but not Priya. More impressive was how all of these women, each of different age and body type, looked amazing. She used her fashion expertise to create a line that is inclusive of all women, celebrating the unique nature of the female body. Congratulations, Priya, for creating something that speaks to all women!! All the best as you move forward with this wonderful line, and it was a honor to be there supporting you!!
Huge thanks to Priya for the wonderful party, the Dream Hotel for the gorgeous venue, Tom with CelebrityMagnet.com for bringing me out, the weather for playing along so nicely, and all my fellow guests who came out to show support!!
In The News:
Beloved Star Launch at the Dream Hotel The New Pastiche
BET Founder and Guests Party It Up with Beloved Star RuthlessBlogs.com
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Sunday, July 24, 2011
This morning I joined Urban Girl Squad to volunteer at the Achilles International Saturday workout. Achilles International is an organization dedicated to enabling people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics in order to promote personal achievement, enhance self esteem, and lower barriers to living a fulfilling life. Today was a workout event where kids with various disabilities come together to play games that get them active. Urban Girl Squad, a social networking organization for young women living in the NYC area, linked me up with this event, and it was one of my favorite so far!
The day started with meeting my new friend, K.E., an Achilles Kid who comes early every week to set up. I swear he did almost the entire gym himself, pasting moons and stars all over the walls. Can you guess what the theme of the week was? K.E. and I became buddies for the day and got ready to launch into the final frontier. Slowly other kids began to arrive, and each one came running out to grab their favorite volunteer and a basketball. The energy in the room was to die for.
I have mentioned before that my brother Peter grew up with Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, which is similar to autism in its symptoms. I can speak firsthand to the importance and impact of programs just like this, as I have seen how they shaped my brothers life. As the day went I never stopped smiling.
I was so impressed at how Megan, the program leader, created such detailed and thematically impressive activities for us all day. We ran shooting-star laps, relayed moon rocks (glass beads) using space gloves (oven mits), and did a team relay where we had to stick as many plants and stars on the poster board as possible, running across the gym and back to tag in the next astronaut. I was lucky, because K.E. is a heck of a runner. Our galaxy turned out beautifully, and you better believe that K.E. called it and said we would win. See the gold? You guessed it...shooting stars. Brilliant!
This day was all about the kids, so I waited until the end of our workout to pop on the crown. It was a perfect surprise! They had no idea that Miss New York had been playing with them the whole time! We took lots of pictures and talked with lots of excited parents about the wonderful kids with whom I had spent the morning.
I watched a child in a walker race to tag out a friend in Duck, Duck, Goose. I saw a boy too shy to speak start to roar with laughter at the sight of our tinsel stardust. Each Achilles Kid was incredibly different than the other, yet at no point today did these differences matter. The environment was such that everyone felt safe to be themselves. For these two hours everyone was treated with respect, love, and support. There were no winners or losers. From the kids to the volunteers to the parents...this program is a shining example of how coming together can lead to everybody winning.
Thank you to Urban Girl Squad for hooking me up with this great event, to Achilles International for organizing such a wonderful program, to all the volunteers who gave up their Saturday morning for a wonderful cause, and most of all...to all the Achilles Kids!!! I can't wait to come back and play again soon.
Check out full photo coverage of the event.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tonight was my first glamorous night on the town. I was a celebrity guest to the Children Of The City Annual Gala held at the Chelsea Pier.
The event is an annual fundraiser for Children Of The City, an organization that helps children in Brooklyn dealing with poverty. They provide education and outreach to guide local youth, serving the community for 30 years. I spent a good part of the evening on the dance floor with several young ladies involved in the program.
I had the privilege of presenting the evenings honoree, Vickie Del Toro . I fell in love with this woman the minute I walked in the door, before I even knew she was the honoree! Her beautiful spirit was clear from the smiles and laughs she brought to everyone around her. Her passion for Children Of The City has been paramount in its successes this year.
I joined ranks with follow guests Doctor Ruth (Pretty surreal to meet her, she is so lively and took me by the hand around the room to meet her friends,) NY Senator Marty Golden, Superbowl XLII Champion David Tyree, Olympic boxing champ Eric Kelly, Victorias Secret model Selita Ebanks, Nip Tuck star Dylan Walsh, Mad Men actor Bryan Batt, Lights Out star Holt McCallany and Anthony Mackie of The Hurt Locker. A seriously star studded evening!
The beauty of this organization is that although children do not get to pick what they are born into, they do get to pick their future. That is what our country is based on, it's the "American Dream" right? Children Of The City is facilitating dreams every day.
So during the live auction, I got so excited to help raise money that at the last minute I offered to donate an evening of my time for dinner with the highest bidder. A battle ensued, with the win going to none other than our honoree's son! That was another $700 for Children Of The City! Plus the winner, Peter, and I are huge food junkies so everybody won!!
Thank you so much to Children Of The City for letting me join you to celebrate and support your beautiful organization!
Check out full photo coverage of this event.
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Thursday, July 14, 2011
This is the lastweekend to wrap up my Miss America paperwork, so I apologize for the lack of posts and responses!! Once everything is in I will be able to catch up with you and share updates on some exciting new things coming up!!
Meanwhile, have you heard about Facebook's cyber bullying options? Now when you click "report post" there are additional options pertaining to the material being hurtful, not just illegal. It's a little know but terrific resource that's helping users to instantly respond to bullying, even when they are not the victim. That's right, I was testing it out tonight and one of the options was "its harassing a friend." I love this! It certainly makes those being cyber bullied feel valid and recognized in their concerns. Once reported, messages will guide a user through advice and options for dealing with the material. With great power comes great responsibility, and I am thrilled to see Facebook stepping up to explore options that can assist those dealing with online harassment. A huge step towards creating community commitment to end bullying online!!
If you or someone you know is dealing with a cyber bully, please share this with them. Even if you don't know someone, share it anyway. You never know who is silently hurting, and you might become the solution!
Ok, back to my paperwork...see you next week!
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Monday, July 11, 2011
ABC is not only the home network for the Miss America Pageant, but it is also becoming a key player in the world of anti-bullying. This Sunday, ABC Family will premier the original movie, Cyberbully. It is a two hour drama that tells the story of a girl who gets bullied online, and the terrible effects it has on her life. Even if you don't watch, tune in to give them high ratings so they can see how important this issue is to us!
I am so excited to see our beloved parent network taking on the issue of bullying. In the Miss New York pageant, my onstage question was about ethics in cable networks, and this is exactly what I meant when I said that media networks with power can use their influence for good causes and stand for something important. ABC is also teaming up with Seventeen Magazine this week for their Rally to Delete Digital Drama on Thursday in California (which I am DYING to go to!) It is pretty clear that ABC is taking a stand to end bullying by opening the discussion. Sometimes just talking about bullying will help a victim realize they are not alone and that there are others who can help them.
Congratulations to ABC for what I am sure will be an important movie for many across America.
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Saturday, July 9, 2011
Today I was absolutely thrilled to be a special guest at the Empire State Pride Agenda's Hampton's Tea Dance. This event is one of the organizations major annual fund raisers, and notorious for being a great time. Took me less than half a second to figure that out! I joined the record-breaking crowd to celebrate and meet the many New Yorkers who came to show their support.
Empire State Pride Agenda is a state-wide LGBT advocacy group here in New York. They work to support equality and justice for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. They do work in the political field as well as within communities. ESPA is among the leading organizations of its kind in the United States, and it is an honor that they call New York their home.
Graced by beautiful weather, this year's event boasted the highest attendance in it's 18 year history. Many of the guests had come to celebrate the recent passing of New York's new Marriage Equality Act. A pretty darn good reason to celebrate, right? It was so incredibly heart warming to talk with so many people about how this Act will improve their future. New York is now a place where love can be truly blind, free of the boundaries of gender. The day was full of pictures, laughs, new friends, and lots of dancing. Even Lady Bunny came out to play! I was thrilled to meet so many wonderful guests whose support today will help ESPA to support millions in the future.
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Friday, July 8, 2011
Today I got the most brilliant hair cut and coloring of my life! It was my first session with my hair sponsors at Vartali Salon. Vartali has some of the best talent in the industry and it is an absolute an honor to be working with them this year!
I have had my hair cut in a professional salon maybe a handful of times, usually at a Super Cuts, and have only gotten color twice. Michael Stinchcomb started me with color. Many of you may have seen the literal line in my hair where it went from natural to a more orange, 6-years-of-box-dye color. Michael washed the whole thing in a warm brown and it looks like heaven. Then Vartan, the owner, throw the scissors to my head for a cut. Ok, not literally, but you wouldn't believe how quickly he chops and snips! He definitely got me nervous for half a second, but then I just started giggling. I was utterly tickled at his talent, and the idea that I am getting styled by one of the best!
How did it turn out? As perfect as I could have imagined. Alas, my Kelly Clarkson style giant blonde highlight in the front is gone. So long, old friend. How you got in my hair will forever remain a mystery.
Thank you to Michael, Vartan, and everyone at Vartali for the amazing hair and a great time!! I can't wait to see you again soon!
Ok, a quick funny hair story from my life. My sophomore year of college I was just dying to go blonde (nice pun.) So, somehow I convinced myself that I could do it from a box. So I bought a box dye and my friend came over to help. This is the moment in life when I learned that sometimes you really should read instructions. When we washed it out, my roots where as white as paper. The rest was highlighter yellow, like a road sign. I walked out from the shower and my friend started to scream. I looked in the mirror and also started to scream. We started running around the room as if we were going to find a solution hidden somewhere. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. As if things weren't bad enough, my date for the night was here to pick me up for dinner. I throw my body against the door and told him that I just needed a minute. I eventually stopped stalling and let him in. He made the most guy move of all time: "I don't really notice. You look nice blonde."
I was back to brunette within 36 hours. All evidence has since been destroyed by yours truly. It was mortifying, but hey...life would be boring if it always went according to plan, right?
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Thursday, July 7, 2011
Today was my first visit to Miss New York tanning sponsor, Beach Bum Tanning. I was so excited to get my glow on with what I know are some of the best products in the business. My competition tan is but a distant memory at this point, and who wants a sallow Italian girl running around?
I had a wonderful time. Owner AJ took me around and showed me all the magical machines I can use to keep myself glowing. My favorite? The spray tan booths! I have never gotten a professional spray tan, and am thrilled to be able to stay looking great while keeping my skin healthy.
Thank you to AJ and Claudine for welcoming me to Beach Bum and your continued support for the Miss New York Organization! I will rock your tans proudly this year!
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Monday, July 4, 2011
Even the weather was playing nice for the holiday! I hope everyone got outside and celebrated the good ol' USA with friends, family, and lots of food. I was on Staten Island, performing with the USO Liberty Bells in a parade and show. I eventually escaped to Long Island to relax with friends, where I shocked even myself by winning a game of "horse" against two fellas in my third interaction with a basketball since grade school.
Every single 4th of July, without fail, my family would watch 1776. Yes, the musical starring none other than Mr. Feeny himself, William Daniels. That means I have to find a few hours to sit down and pop in my DVD, because I just can't miss it. It was my mothers way of drilling into us the idea that this holiday is not about me or my freedoms, but about the men and women who gave up everything to create this world we know, and so often take for granted. Our founding fathers were heroes, for I cannot imagine standing up against the greatest world power to fight for something you have never actually known or experienced. Yet freedom was their dream, and today we can all pursue our own American dream because of what they did over 200 years ago.
Today, thousands of young men and women put their lives on the line in the continued defense of that freedom we were given. This holiday is not about freedom itself, but the continuous journey we are on to maintain this beautiful and unique human condition of liberty. We were given a beautiful gift that we must cherish and protect. While you and I do the cherishing as we take a day to celebrate, there are thousands at work doing the protecting at this very moment. Take a moment to thank a member of our military this week, for they are truly the keepers of our independence. Every day they are doing things to protect us that we will never know. Thank their husbands, wives, and children. I have been blessed to spend so much time with our military and their families thanks to my work with the USO (I highly recommend looking up your local USO and volunteering!) I have met children as old as 5 who have never met their fathers or mothers, spouses that raise kids alone, and men and women who have slept in 200+ lbs of gear on desert floors to protect our ability to wake up safe the next morning. I am forever moved by their constant commitment to something more important than themselves, and work every day to follow in their footsteps of selfless service.
Thank you to all those who do work each day to make tomorrow better! From the military, to the charities and organizations helping our neighbors in need, to big businesses that turn profits into support for good causes, to the individuals who stay at home to raise a child; we may all live different lives, but we can all come together under our universal belief in a better world!
Happy Birthday, America!
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