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!
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.
Along with Racing for Paws, I spent the day accepting donations of items and raising money and awareness for Longmont Humane Society. Any event with shelter animals is right up my alley, but this was a special one because I was helping my friend’s organization, Racing for Paws. My sweet sister queen, Jamie Klenin, along with her race car driving husband, started Racing for Paws to help rescue animals. She works so tirelessly to help, I was just thrilled to help in any way I could.
What was great about this shelter (besides the fact is has been remodeled and is just amazing), is how much they work to end breed discrimination. There are signs everywhere about how unreliable visual id is for identifying a dogs breed, especially bully breeds as those tend to describe common features rather than a lineage. As a bully breed advocate, I love seeing the science behind the message. They did experiments with visual id followed up by DNA testing, and bully breeds were by far the most inaccurate. Just remember, when adopting a dog, look for temperament and other personality factors that fit your family. Not simply head shape.
I also noticed there was a conference room at the shelter and now I am hoping to host my book fundraiser at a local humane society so that the funds go back to the cause I am promoting! That event will be coming in January. Stay tuned!
On a day I happened to be struggling myself, I was given the opportunity to help others suffering. The best way to help ourselves is to help others, and this event gave me a greater purpose and got me out of my own head. I met a woman named Connie who’s young daughter had committed suicide after relentless bullying from her peers. Heartbreaking to imagine this young life ended over the carelessness of others.
I gave a quick speech about reaching out to those in need, checking in on friends and sharing positive energy, but the real gift I received from the event was connecting with Connie. I will be joining her suicide and bullying prevention in Pueblo later this year and also speaking to her group of girls about body image and self esteem. She and her family are doing amazing work and I am so honored to be helping them. Her husband just so happens to run some ComiCons, as well, which made my Spidey Senses tingle! I see us having a long road ahead of us, but now I can offer them my support.
You just never know who you’re going to meet and how they will change your world completely.
Several donations came in the form of supplies and empty backpacks. Plus, after seeing the devastation, we needed more. Valerie, Mrs. Colorado, and her parents took us shopping to purchase more supplies. We were exhausted and hilarity ensued. So many people donated money to help us purchase supplies, and even food for ourselves during the trip so we wouldn’t have to carry that burden while away from home. The generosity of people really makes me feel connected to humanity.
I was able to visit the poorest school in the district. The families who are already struggling. I spent many years as a single mother, and I know what that is like to be so close to not making it all the time that a financial set back of any kind can snowball into something overwhelming. I also know that parents who are struggling financially are probably also drained in every other way. The stress, the long hours, the burden we carry every day. It is really hard to also be everything our kids need. So when these families lose everything, starting over can feel even more overwhelming. Giving these kids the best of the backpacks, loaded with supplies, socks, treats and clean water, made me feel like we were delivering hope. That taking that pressure off will help the whole family. All parents will tell you that when your child is happy, everything seems easier.
This work was important. My crown lit up their faces and my hard work made things happen. I never would have been on that trip if it hadn’t been for Mrs. America. Competing in pageants helps you become the person you always wanted to be, even in ways you didn’t expect. I was so grateful to be there for those students and those families in a time of need. Turns out, I needed it, too.
I always saw myself as the Peace Corps type. Jetting around the world, helping. Turn out that is my sister. I am the have a child right after high school and stay in the same zip code for a decade type. Don’t get me wrong, being a single mom and professional dancer at age 19 is an adventure! But I have always longed to get my hands dirty in service of those in crisis around the country and even beyond our borders.
So here’s the thing; years ago I sat and waited for nine, long days to get in contact with my other sister during Katrina. I was terrified and helpless. As Irma headed for my father in Florida, I felt that dread setting in once again. It was a category 5 and we were preparing for him to lose his house and where to be safe from projectiles so he can swim in the surge. Serious stuff. I was going out of my mind.
Then I was given an opportunity to do something. To be of service to those affected by Harvey. To not have idle hands while we waited for Irma. Mrs. Colorado, Valerie Daly, organized a backpack and supply drive for the students of Goosecreek, Texas. She rallied sister queens from across the country and collected backpacks, school supplies, sanitary supplies and clothing items for over 3000 kids! #BackpacksforHarvey was a huge operation that involved a dozen trips to cargo to pick up deliveries of backpacks and supplies. Many came ready, many needed to be assembled. I loved rolling up my sleeves and getting to work!
After delivering our backpacks to schools, we were given tours of some neighborhoods that had been severely affected by Hurricane Harvey. People had already gutted the damaged materials and hauled them out to giant piles in the street. I cannot imagine how exhausting it must have been to haul wet wood and mattresses after getting through a storm of that magnitude. They have lost so much. I am so honored to help.
I loaded up the kids and the pup and headed to the Boulder County Fair for the Mutt Strut 5k and Dog Yoga benefiting Max Fund Adoption Center. Rosie, our rescue pup, did her first 5k! The kids were awesome and my stepson even ran ahead and finished ten minutes before us. The dog yoga was a hoot. We we doing downward dog- with our dogs! Then they showed us how to do doggy massage. So our dog got to socialize with lots of other dogs, walk a 5k, got a Paw Bender custard and then got a massage. All to benefit a worthy cause. It was an awesome day.
I love when supporting animal rescues can involve my family. It’s so important to me to show them my service work so they learn to give back. Thanks for the invite, Camp Gladiator!