What. A. Weekend.
I got to spend the weekend with some of the most unbelievable women around, and as I said in my earlier post, ladies that will most definitely be friends forever.
It was a whirlwind of a weekend, celebrating the homecoming of our new Miss America (the first time she's been home since that fateful weekend at the end of January!). She has traveled across the US with only her two suitcases she packed for Las Vegas departing January 14. They kept her super busy all weekend leaving us only a few moments with her. We were really busy, too. But one of the Indiana hosts quickly observed that if he wanted to find us he just had to look for the food. Scary but true. I'm posting a video somehow, somewhere that will make you giggle. Think 12 passenger van, Wendy's drive through, 11 state titleholders after Miss America.
Friday night we were able to participate in the Miss America "Talent Show" AND we saw the new Miss Indiana crowned. Congratulations, Megan! We were then whisked off to a reception that evening at a former Miss Indiana's home, put on in honor of Katie by all former Miss Indianas. They had it beautifully catered, but somehow we all ended up around the chex mix that incorporated candy corn. It was BALLER.
Saturday we were up and at 'em early, making an appearance at a boutique, flower shop, and then a delicious lunch. Thank goodness we ate protein, we would soon find out that we would need the stamina ... between 650 and 700 people attended the autograph signing and they were allowed 2 autographs a piece, but some asked for more. And believe me, you can't tell a little girl dressed up as Cinderella no! Too cute. After slight hand paralysis, we fixed ourselves up and headed over to the Renaissance Hotel to have an intimate celebration for Katie. The Miss Indiana Organization is made up of so many outstanding individuals. We were all so impressed by your selflessness and support. So, thank you!
After a brief delay in the airport (slightly reminiscent of my 9 hour delay leaving Miss America), I got back to NYC and headed to the two preliminaries held in NYC on Sunday evening. Congratulations to our new titleholders, Claire Buffie, Amanda Mason, Danielle Roundtree, and Inga Schlingmann. I can't wait for Miss New York, it's going to be a tough competition!
During the first preliminary Bethlene, Miss New York 2006, asked me what my most memorable moment had been as Miss NY. It really is impossible for me to dwindle it down to just one, but there was a day that changed me. So, in an effort to back track so you know what I've been up to, I'm going to close with this story ...
On December 1st, World AIDS Day, I drove up to Albany with Kate Shindle. That morning I went to the AIDS Council of Northeastern NY and took a public AIDS test. After living in South Africa for two summers, and doing HIV/AIDS education for one, I understand the sheer reality of this epidemic. That it is literally wiping out villages. But you see, it's not just in Africa. It has taken our communities into it's grips. It is imperative that everyone knows their status. It doesn't matter where you come from, or who you are. AIDS does not discriminate. After I took my test we headed over to City Hall where we had a press-conference. I met the Mayor of Albany and after telling him what we had been up to that morning he said, what an idea! I'm doing it next year (tip to Miss New York 2009- take it with him!). Then we ran into the Albany health reporter, told her our story, and immediately after the press conference she went straight back to the AIDS Council of Northeastern NY and took an AIDS test on camera!
After lunch we hopped in the car and drove back to the city. I then made my way down to City Hall where Housing Works had set up 5 podiums with a microphone, binder, and flashlight. For 24 hours people read the names of those from New York City that had died of AIDS. The binders were made up of pages and pages of names and were about 12" thick. As I began to turn the page I heard someone from another podium say, "Bryan Smith". That's my brother's name. I froze. We are losing our brothers, mothers, and children to this disease. It's unacceptable. So, on that note, I think you should join my AIDS Walk NY team and help me kick AIDS in the face!