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 GoDaddy.com 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
Each year the U.S. Dream Academy's Power of a Dream Gala attracts and recognizes celebrities, political figures, corporate executives, community leaders, and this year Miss America Royalty. National titleholder Laura Kaeppeler was honored this week by the academy for her personal platform work with children of incarcerated parents.
To date, the gala event has raised $11 million for educational means to address children of incarcerated parents. The mission of the Dream Academy is to make a difference for at-risk children of incarcerated parents. The academy is an afterschool program that offers academic and learning opportunities to engage children and help them realize goals and ambitions.
Among others recognized at this year's gala were Lars Houmann, President & CEO Florida Hospital; Mark Ingram, Jr., Heisman Trophy Winner New Orleans Saints of the National Football League; Hilton O. Smith, Sr. Vice-President, Community Affairs Turner Construction Company; George Allen "Pat" Summerall, Former National Football League Player and Television Sportscaster; and Kathy Victor, Board of Directors Chairman, Independent Business Owners Association International.
Source and photo: MAO
When a young woman approached Debi Wilson at her gym in 1984 and asked her to chaperone a week of pageants, Debi didn't realize that her participation would lead to twenty-nine more years of service with the Miss Delaware Pageant.
Today, Debi has held several years worth of board positions, and this past April, she was voted in for her fourth term as executive director.
"It was overwhelming, and sometimes it still is," says the Wilmington native. But she wouldn't trade her time spent with the contestants.
Sitting in the audience watching the contestant for whom she chaperoned walk across the state, she was hooked.
"My life has been changed for the better by knowing and working with each and every Miss Delaware. It truly is a family."
"It all came together when I saw her on stage. I thought, this is all about making her feel her best, win or lose, as long as she feels her best," she says.
Debi officially kicked off her work in the organization in 1985 when she was asked to be an auxiliary board member, a role she played for two years. In 1987, she became a "full-fledged" board member, which gave her voting rights on things like fundraising ideas, scholarships, and scheduling. The only two positions she's never held are treasurer and choreographer. She leaves those to the experts, she says.
Debi's capacity as executive directed expanded her involvement in the Miss Delaware pageant. She oversees the organization and preparation of Miss Delaware for the Miss America pageant, and all that it entails.
Miss Delaware 2011 Maria Cahill describes her relationship with the executive director as more familial than professional. Maria says she relied on Debi heavily after she won the title because it was her first Miss Delaware competition. Maria and her family looked to Debi to learn the ins and outs of the organization.
"I was lucky because we live close to each other. Whenever I needed someone to talk to, and a phone call wasn't good enough, I would literally drive over to her house. A lot of times it was overwhelming for me. She helped me stay grounded," Maria says.
Time has seen Debi develop into a well-rounded communicator. Her dealings have made her into a better public speaker and leader, and written communication comes easier to her at this point than it did in the beginning. But her life is not the only one that has changed because of the organization. To be involved is to improve one's being.
"The lives of those who volunteer with the Miss America Organization are also changed as they benefit from helping young women reach their goals. The communities in which we all live are beneficiary of the hard work that all contestants commit to their platforms," Debi says.Subscribe to fourpoints to read more about Debi Wilson and the Miss Delaware program!
Miss America Laura Kaeppeler is in New York today kicking off the 2012 Great American Cleanup. Laura will take the stage in Military Square with members of the Keep America Beautiful organization and other city officials. The group will recognize National Volunteer Week and encourage the entire city to focus on environmental cleanliness and sustainability through recycling and volunteering.
There are more than thirty thousand community improvement events throughout the United States made possible by millions of volunteers. Today's event will put these workers in the spotlight and celebration their dedication to keeping the earth clean and green.
Laura will sing the National Anthem tonight at Yankees Stadium. Tune in to your local station to see her and the game! It will air on YES Network and MLB Network.
Sold out–two words that everyone in the show, from the producer to the performer, loves to see. Imagine looking out from behind the curtain during your pageant and seeing a sea of smiling, excited faces. It's a wonderful dream, but reality often doesn't match up. Bill Haggerty, co-executive director/executive producer for the New Hampshire Scholarship Program, and Michelle Metzger, executive director of the Miss Texas program, know the value of filling seats.
What is the value of ticket sales to scholarship programs?
Bill Haggerty: Ticket sales for the pageant are substantial for helping to support the program cost and the cost of the show–and for making a profit besides. The first thing you need to do is set a reasonable price for your tickets according to your demographics. The price they charge in another place may not be appropriate in your area.
Michelle Metzger: Ticket pricing has to be attractive for a family of four to attend the event. Also, implementing some revenue sharing arrangement with local charitable organizations can help incentivize them to sell tickets and attend themselves.
BH: I can't emphasize how important the contestants and their families are, especially with the advent of social media. Miss America kicked it off two years ago when they began to use online voting to put contestants into the top fifteen. That has opened more avenues for ticket sales.
What other new ideas are you using to increase ticket sales?
MM: One idea suggested by our host facility was to use local Girl Scout, Boy Scout, and charitable organizations to sell our tickets and allow them to keep a portion of the proceeds for themselves.
BH: One event that has been successful for us we modeled after media days at the Super Bowl. We invite the media to come to a rehearsal of the program. They don't see the entire show, or even finished sets and costumes because of how far it is ahead of the show, but they'll be able to see the opening act, along with another production number, for photos and video.
What are some of the more "traditional" strategies that you use?
BH: We try to get information to every weekly paper in our area. We also work with the local cable TV stations. Again, the local, smaller stations are more willing to work with you.
MM: In the past, we have relied on "pageant family" patrons for our tickets, and from my observation, we have sold a very small percentage to the general public. Also, sponsors were given tickets they may or may not use, and usually these were the best seats in the house. We plan to have sponsor tickets converted into vouchers that can be used to redeem at the box office then have the sponsors in a suite box above the main audience.
As a judge, Valerie Hayes has heard contestants make some really bad gaffes during their interview. The worst interview answer she ever heard was given by a stunningly beautiful and talented contestant who impressed the judges with her winning look as soon as she entered the room. However, when asked what made the Miss America Organization special, she said it was the fact that it was owned by Donald Trump and that the winner got to go on to compete in Miss Universe.
Winning the crown is more than beauty and talent alone. You have to develop your content and demonstrate that you're an intelligent woman who can represent the title, Valerie says. Contrary to popular belief, no one votes for an airhead.
Without question, the biggest mistake contestants make while preparing for their interview is under-developing their personal platform. What makes the Miss America Organization a leader is its commitment to community service. As the local, state, and national titleholder, you will be making appearances promoting and marketing your platform, but many contestants spend more time selecting their competition wardrobe than they do strategically planning and developing their platform. You won't be able to get appearances, discuss your marketing plan in the interview room, or compete at the state or national level if you don't correctly develop your platform for your local competition.
You need to sit down at the beginning of your pageant season and really plan out and fully develop your platform. Make sure you have a platform that is unique to you and helps you stand out as a contestant. Don't follow trends when selecting and developing your platform. After all, Miss America is about community leadership, not community, "followship." Really think through how you can make a difference through your platform and what type of appearances people will actually book you for. "Education and awareness" on your topic just isn't enough. Everyone is doing that, so why would you want to do that, too?
Source: Valerie Hayes
Rebecca King Dreman, Miss America 1974, tells fourpoints about seeing her daughter compete on the Miss America stage!
fourpoints: What was it like to be the first Miss America to see her daughter compete on the Miss America stage?
Rebecca King Dreman: When Diana won at the state level, I was excited for her. I knew this was history in the making. Then at Miss America, when she was on stage, I had so many emotions because I had been there competing. I knew what she was going through. Diana is a wonderful young woman and…she is a great Miss Colorado. I am so proud of her many and varied accomplishments.
fpts: How did you help Diana make the right decisions about competing? How much did you influence her choice?
RKD: As parents, we always mentored our children, helping them find their moral compass, helping them make good life choices. However, I didn't encourage her to be in pageants at a young age. The first time she competed was the first year of Miss America's Outstanding Teen. I told her at that point I would support her–with her guidance.
fpts: On stage, Diana mentioned that being there was so special for her. What do you think made it so special?
RKD: She knows and understands what being on that stage has meant for thousands of young women, so she couldn't help but be proud of her accomplishment–to be one of fifty-three special young women. Friday night, she wore one of my dresses, the gown I gave up my crown in. It was very touching for me. The entire experience had a lot of meaning for her, one that I lived to share with her.
fpts: How did you help her with her platform?
RKD: I'm a living example of the value of the American Cancer Society. Diana has lived with cancer, with me, as one of my care givers. She remembers the day we were told I would likely live for only a few more months. But she has done all of the work for her platform. She has done all of this is her own way, made her own contacts, promoted research and legislation, participated in fundraising events, and when she speaks to people, she can say, "The research of the American Cancer Society, the scientific progress, has helped my mother survive."
To read more about Miss America 1974 Rebecca King Dreman and her mother-daughter pageant experience, subscribe to fourpoints.
Heather French Henry is Miss America 2000, and now she's a designer! We asked Heather to give us the skinny on pageant style.
fourpoints: What is your opinion of the old adage, "white always wins"?
Heather French Henry: I can count on one hand the number of Miss Americas who won in white over the past two decades, so, I definitely believe white doesn't always win. When choosing a gown, I believe it's more important to choose a gown that fits "your" style, "your" body, and "your" coloring.
fpts: What is a cost effective way for girls to afford evening gowns?
HFH: I had this very problem when I was competing. I had three jobs, and was a full-time college student. I do feel that great gowns are worth saving for. When you go for quality, then you can use one gown many different ways. It can go from your evening gown to talent gown to eventually a walk-on gown. One gown can last you several years if you choose well.
fpts: How do you keep a teen contestant looking like a teen?
HFH: It is important to look "age-appropriate" in a teen competition. I had difficulty here because I always looked older. I feel sticking with a soft color palette in the wardrobe can help was well as toning down the make-up and hair.
fpts: How can contestants incorporate their personal style into the pageant wardrobe?
HFH: This is the one area most judges complain about–the contestants not choosing their own wardrobe. I believe guidance is good, but in moderation. The beauty of the Miss America system is that all of our contestants are unique in style as well as opinion and it should show.
fpts: Explain the concept of styling and outfit.
To read Heather's answer and more styling advice from the former Miss America, subscribe to fourpoints!
As we all know, the Miss America Organization is one that embraces women from past, present, and future, and Anna Mae Schoonver is quite possibly one of the last people alive who participated in the earlier generations of Miss America.
Anna Mae was born in Seattle on February 9, 1917, and grew up during the depression. She moved with her family to a farm in eastern Washington to survive the depression years where she picked strawberries with her mother and sold them at a penny a basket. She claims that hard times like those made her strong and practical and were the inspiration for a book she wrote later in life call Picking Up Pennies. At 95, she's still a hard-worker, up every morning at 7 a.m., industrious, does her own driving, cooking, and cleaning, and makes time every day to read The Wall Street Journal cover to cover.
Anna Mae–who later shortened her name to Ann–won her first pageant in 1938, and then went on to compete for Miss Washington–and won again. After a summer of appearances as Miss Washington, Ann went to Atlantic City. She won the talent contest with a dramatic reading. She won the bathing suit contest. And she came in as second runner-up in the Miss America contest. At the time, she was engaged to James Clough Danly, and when advised during the competition to remove her engagement ring, she refused. She married James in November of 1939, spent her honeymoon in Hawaii, and moved to Chicago where they raised eight children.
Ann had offers from modeling agencies and film studios, but it wasn't until her last child was in high school, that she visited modeling agencies in Chicago and became very busy in her 60s as a model in print and media, taking on age-appropriate roles as a grandmother, a country-club socialite, and advocate of health and beauty products for mature women.
When James retired, he and Ann moved to Naples, Florida, where Ann got busy in another calling, writing. She wrote two novels and a non-fiction book on thrift called Picking Up Pennies. The books were sold at local CVS pharmacies and Amazon.
Ann is in excellent health. Her husband passed away in 2005, and she says she counts her blessings everyday that she married that wonderful man and had sixty-six "blissful" years with him.
To read more about Ann, subscribe to fourpoints!
Miss America Laura Kaeppeler is on the road speaking to centers and organizations about her platform–Circles of Support, Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents. Most recently, she attended a YMCA Safe Place Services fundraiser at Mellwood Art and Entertainment Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Laura spoke to more than 500 guests about her experiences as a teenager with a parent in prison.
"I know what it's like to be one of those children, I know what it's like to walk down that road and in those shoes," Laura said.
But to Laura, organizations like Safe Place Services make a positive impact on children whose parents have been or are still incarcerated, and by participating in their programming, kids can break away from negative stereotypes.
Some clients of Safe Place Services were present to hear Laura speak. Clayton Marshall, who is now 22-years-old, started participating in the Safe Place Services when he was 14-years-old. With a mom in and out of prison for drug charges, he said his involvement in Safe Place helped improve his outlook on life.
Laura spoke March 19 and 20 at Safe Place Services centers, and she met with the Domestic Policy Council in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to discuss her platform.
Sources: MAO, WHAS11 Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana News