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Saturday, 05 May 2012 11:59

Newly Crowned, Always Ready


Miss Washington County 2012 Twila Tschan takes Newberg, Oregon’s motto to heart. From a young age, she understood that her hometown “is a Great Place to Grow.” The newly crowned titleholder has seen her share of adversity and meets challenges head-on.


In 2011, Twila and her family received the shocking news that the pain she had been experiencing off and on since high school was caused by a cancerous tumor near her spine. They were told that immediate removal of this synovial sarcoma was necessary, but the surgery would leave Twila permanently without function or feeling in her left hand. Twila went home and changed her Facebook status to: “Already have the title of my memoir:  Coming to Grips: How One Woman Single-Handedly Saved the World. Miraculously, two surgeries, six weeks of radiation, and months of physical therapy later, she has basic use of her left hand and is now a one-year cancer survivor.


From this experience, Twila gained a deep understanding of the challenges families of children with severe medical problems face. Through involvement in the Miss America Program and the opportunity to promote the Children’s Miracle Network, Twila is excited to spend her year as Miss Washington County supporting children and families as they hope for their own miracle.


Twila has been a featured speaker and performer at various fundraising and awareness events, most notably at the Bowl’s Reading and Literacy day which awards more than $19,000 in Savings Bonds to fifth-graders who demonstrate proficiency in reading and writing. It was from these events that Twila was inspired to adopt Read Across America as her personal platform, and hopes to encourage the love and joy of reading as Miss Washington County 2012.


Last summer, Twila was selected to participate in a Quaker United Nations Office program in Geneva, Switzerland, where she was able to confer with various ambassadors and other high-level officials, as well as experience firsthand the inner workings of the United Nations, the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.


Twila’s plans for the future include attending graduate school in either law or diplomacy, and working for the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, or a humanitarian NGO. Before writing the next chapter, however, Twila is looking forward to seeing how the story of Miss Washington County unfolds.


Source and photo: Miss Washington County Scholarship Organization

Published in Headline News
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 11:14

Reaching Out

Posted Friday, December 03, 2010

Hello, faithful readers.

This week, I received a letter from Carol Henry, the ED of the Miss New Mexico pageant. She shared a very touching and serious story with me that I want to pass on to you:

Two years ago this week, Reagan Kenyon, then 6 yr. old daughter of Molly and Clifford Kenyon, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called a "Wilmes Tumor." She was rushed to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas where she underwent surgery removing a very large tumor along with her kidney. Her surgery was followed by many months of chemotherapy. After several months of being "clean," the beast returned, this time in Reagan's lung. Now at 8 years old, she is once again undergoing a very toxic form of chemo to rid her little body of the "ugly beast."

This past summer, several of the Miss New Mexico contestants attended a "Run for Reagan" event to raise money for the overwhelming expenses that the family has incurred. Much to everyone's surprise, a robust little Reagan also walked the course along with the others! Almost a picture of health, she was all grins as she posed for pictures with the Miss New Mexico ladies! Sarah Richardson, a 2010 contestant and Reagans "big sis" in the pageant, provided Reagan with a Little Miss crown attached to a ball cap to accomodate the crown staying on Reagans head!  It was a great day for all of those who attended the event.

Because Reagan was scheduled to have a chemo treatment the week of the Miss NM pageant she was unable to be presented on stage during the program last June. So, the crafty technicians who worked with the sound during the Miss NM pageant, were able to skype Reagan in from her hospital bed so that she could wish everyone a cherry hello during the preliminary competition! It was a moment that made everyone realize that life is fragile and that we should be thankful for every breath that we take and prayerful for those moments that take our breath away as this one did.

But the story gets better! Madison Tabet, Miss NM 2010 and I attended the teen pageant this summer in Orlando. I'm sure that most of you have seen the long long line of taxi's available outside of the Rosen Centre and have probably utilized one now and then. Madison and I needed a ride one evening and randomly choose a cab from the line. During the usual chit-chat with the driver, it was revealed that he had recently been in New Mexico in a small town named Ft. Sumner. I mentioned that I had also been there for a fundraiser for a small child who was ill with cancer. The driver (named Singh) tilted his head in deep thought, then replied, "I know of this child. Her name is Reagan. Her picture is all over my computer and my wife and I pray everyday for her recovery!"

Well, you can imagine the shock on our faces as this story unfolded. Singh had family in Ft. Sumner who had all shaved their heads in honor of Reagan's hair loss, and their pictures, along with Reagans, were on his computer! Madison and I are still in awe that we were somehow chosen, (perhaps by divine guidance?) to accept this message, all the way in Florida, and with the remote chance that we would choose Singhs cab! We realized at that moment that Reagans health was important to people everywhere!

Madison and I feel that there was a "purpose" in that conversation with Singh the cab driver in Orlando, Florida. We just don't know, yet, what that purpose was. We are counting on Reagan's health allowing her to be on stage in June with all of the other Little Misses. And with a full head of gorgeous hair so she can be crowned a "Little Miss."

Reagan was the honored guest at a "toy drive" this past month, put on by the Roswell Elks. As you can see by the pictures, hundreds of toys are piled up for delivery to the hospital in Lubbock, Texas, the facility where Reagan is treated. Madison Tabet, Miss NM 2010 was also a special guest at the toy drive, and she and Reagan spent the evening dancing way into the night! Still stoic and a picture of health, we honored this special child with a MOAT t-shirt filled with the signatures of all 2011 Miss contestants names and well- wishes. You can just see the excitement in her eyes as she proudly wears the t-shirt at the fundraiser!

The Miss New Mexico board and contestants are working hard to get the funds to make sure that Reagan gets to the 2011 Miss America pageant this January. Reagans dream is to attend the pageant and we want to make sure that dream comes true for her. I hope you will have the privelege of meeting this charming young lady. She will steal your heart away!

Please pray for Reagan's continued health, and maybe one day, we will see her on the Miss America stage, living and breathing to tell her compelling story of how she survived the "beast."

I know that I am going to keep Reagan and her family in my heart. I encourage all of you to do the same.

Published in Pageant Blog