Free the Girls is an amazing organization that fights human trafficking and gives women the power to create their own success. This event was benefitting the hardest work there is out there. The women I met, along with my dear friend who helped organize the event, are such true inspirations. There are so many women and children living truly unimaginable lives, right under our noses. All I can hope for my career is that I am able to persevere as these women have. I plan on doing much more with this group and I hope to someday see that I, too, have cleared a path of hope and empowerment.
Erin Feltes and I met through pageantry and were Galaxy queens together. She was Mrs. Colorado Galaxy and I was Miss Colorado Galaxy. Competing together was one of my favorite experiences ever, and at BRAlapalooza we met a fellow Galaxy sister queen, Miss Italy Galaxy 2015. Pageantry has introduced me to such wonderful women and such empowering experiences, I am just so humbled and grateful to have these opportunities.
We have launched an amazing new program in Colorado that mirrors my Michigan All-American Starz program. CO Starz is a cheer, dance, pom and leadership team that uses dance to teach character skills such as responsibility, compassion, courage and perseverance. The girls will pay for their own uniforms with fundraisers and the team has “adopted” it’s own charity; Moms and Mutts Animal Rescue for Pregnant and Nursing Dogs. The girls will volunteer as puppy cuddlers every Wednesday before practice and we will help with local adoption events. Our most important contribution to MAM is going to be fundraising. This organization works so hard to take care of these moms and puppies, and it is very expensive work. We are working on organizing fundraisers in addition to supporting the events they already have planned.
This team is an extension of my Compassion Over Reaction platform and is based on principles of empathy, personal responsibility and community support. We will be adding a Littleton team and I see great things ahead for this program!
To officially announce my national donor campaign, Dare to Donate December, I was invited to be a guest speaker at Children with Hair Loss’s Annual Gala. Families, wig recipients, board members, and the rest of us supporters gathered for one of the most beautiful and well planned events I’ve ever attended. Every detail was perfect. The girls got to put on a fashion show and at the end of the night they announced the girls could keep their attire!
I got to give a speech about my campaign and it kind of turned into a heart to heart with a few hundred of my new closest friends. I live broadcast the speech on facebook, because at the heart of my campaign is starting a dialogue about donation.
CWHL is the ONLY hair donation program that never charges the families for the hair pieces, provided a new hair piece every year until the child is 18, and accepts all healthy hair (including color treated and grey). This organization is so inspiring and just makes my heart happy. This is the beginning of a long relationship between myself and CWHL.
On my mama’s birthday, I took my family to Colorado Christian University to watch the King Cougar Men’s Pageant, where I was the judge. There were 18 contestants and they each got a runway walk and talent. Each one was more entertaining than the last! From a waffle eating contest (that ended in a syrup shower), to a water ballet that was basically college boys spitting water at each other, to singers and dancers. I laughed the entire way through and just had a blast. I was especially impressed with the choreography, which was done by my friend, Casey. Boy, did she nail it!
Of all the appearances I’ve done, this was the funniest and most filled with laughter. What a treat. It’s good to be Queen.
Years ago I started my dance program in Montessori Peaks Academy in Littleton, CO. I returned to teach Thriller to a gym full of kids at MPA and it was like going home. I love teaching dance. I love big groups. I especially love Thriller. But today was special because I had such a hard time getting there. October has always been a tough month for me since my car accident in October of 2003 nearly ended my dance career. It was a significant enough event in my life that I repeated the anxiety annually without even knowing it. This fall, after my family had moved from Michigan to Colorado, my step children went back to school in Michigan and my old struggle with October came back with a vengeance. I crawled in bed and stayed there. When I am not doing well, I do everything counterproductive to feel worse. I know I’m not the only one to do this, and we all know better, yet we do it anyway. For me, it’s food. I have food sensitivities to wheat and dairy and they make me feel awful all around. Yet, when I am under the weather all I eat is pizza. Genius, right?? I only talk about this because it makes me feel crazy, yet I know we all do some version of this so I’m hoping by sharing it can make people reading this feel less crazy. What IS crazy is how we all feel so alone in these types of behaviors when, in fact, we all have some version of this; something we do when we feel bad that makes us feel worse, yet we continue to do it.
So I wasn’t doing well. I had a rough night of suffering the consequences of my actions and almost didn’t make it to this appearance. I was actually supposed to do my bully prevention program the same day, but we decided to just do the Thriller since it was Halloween, and it was better than cancelling altogether.
I went. I felt like death and was beating myself up for creating this situation for myself, but I went and taught. I started rough, feeling short tempered and crabby, but quickly became aware of my unusually short fuse and was able to let it go and enjoy their chaotic energy. I was silly with them, I joked with them, and I taught them Michael Jackson’s Thriller; the one dance you should learn if you only learn one dance.
I had a great day and felt great afterwards. I have felt better ever since and feel like I’m moving back towards “normal” me. The clouds are parting and I feel hopeful and invigorated again. All because I put on a Wookie suit and went and taught dance for an hour.
Sometimes our life changes not because we do something grand, but because we decide we are going to live it.
Thriller is an annual tradition and I made a trip to Michigan to do a Thriller camp with my Starz. These girls are my heart. They work so hard and have such kind spirits. I am a big proponent of “Giving What You’ve Got”. I love being able to donate dance. Since our family had to relocate to Colorado I haven’t gotten to have my weekly practices with the team, so these camps are really important to me. I am trying to work with the team one a month, and they are always excited to see me!
One of the first team events I ever did with the Denver Nuggets Dancers was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, back in 2000! The alumni coordinators invited all the alumni back to participate again this year. I love these ladies. What a great group of women. I was so happy to meet up with them and wish them well on their race. However, I choose not to participate because I do not donate to Susan G. Komen. I believe our donation dollars have power and we need to put them behind organizations doing the most good. I do not feel the use of donations or the salary structure of the Susan G. Komen organization is a good use of my donation, and I feel that directing that money to better organizations can send a message that we demand better accountability.
Where ever you put your money, make sure it reflects your own ethics and goals. Each dollar is like a vote of confidence. We have the power to shape our society by where we choose to spend our consumer dollars.
A lifelong goal of mine is to create a “Cruelty Free” label for meat and animal products, so that our consumer dollars can change the marketplace towards a kinder, more humane process. I believe the only way to change an industry is through buying power and if we can create enough of a financial motivation for things to change, they will.
Be smart with your money, but no matter how I feel about this particular organization- I support the survivors and the families affected by breast cancer. You are all working for the good and I applaud you!