One cold, snowy night in January, as my boyfriend and I were enjoying an incredible dinner at Opus Restaurant and Loungue in Syracuse's downtown Armory Square, it dawned on me: Today marks the beginning of my last month as Miss Finger Lakes! It's been a long, incredible year, but all good things must come to an end. I wasn't giving up my title without a fight, though. I still had some time, so I decided to get myself as involved as I could possibly manage during this last month as Miss Finger Lakes.
On February 9th, I took a day off from classes to cruise out to Elmira, NY to tape an interview for their Community Focus program that airs on Sundays throughout the entire Southern Tier. I like to think of this as my "exit interview," my last chance to get my voice heard and to promote the upcoming pageant. I got to sit down with Staci-Lyn Honda for a full 12-minute interview and we talked about my platform, "Fighting Back Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault," the upcoming pageant and some of the funny, stereotypical perceptions of pageants. I had a great time, and it was good practice for the upcoming locals I will be competing in next month!
Later that night, I had the honor of attend the Father Daughter Valentine Ball to benefit the Golisano Children's Hospital, Syracuse's local Children's Miracle Network hospital. When I arrived, I was in absolute awe of what I saw: hundreds, at least 300, fathers and daughters talking, laughing, partying, and dancing the night away. There were about 30 items available in their silent auction, some going for as much as $250! There was a magician, who was the life of the party, and hundreds of gorgeous little girls dressed to impress. I had the opportunity to crown some of these little ladies "Father Daughter Valentine Ball" Princesses.... of course, every girl in attendance got a sash and crown, because every girl that night was truly a princess. I never got the final count on how much was raised that evening, but I know that the evening was a huge success, both for the patrons and for the Golisano Children's Hospital. I had a ball (excuse the pun) that night and I hope to attend next year as a 2010 titleholder!
Last Sunday, I was invited to sit down with Marcus from Juice and Java, a Syracuse University talk showed that airs on the CitrusTV network here. I got to meet one of the behind-the-scenes members of the crew, Hilary Levin, who was going to be competing in the Miss Finger Lakes pageant this Saturday but withdrew... because she won a local in New Jersey! I was excited to chat with her for a few minutes, and offer my help and support as she prepares for the Miss New Jersey state pageant. When I finally got down to the interview, Marcus made it a point to focus on my platform for the 4 minute-slot that we had. I was very grateful to be able to address some very serious issues that I experienced as a college student, so that the SU community would be aware of the seriousness of sexual assault and domestic violence. I hope that even after my reign ends, the message of my platform will be long-lasting.
When I thought all was said and done that Sunday, I received a phone call from one of the managers of the local IHOP: They would LOVE for me to come in on National Pancake Day to help out! You see, National Pancake Day is a national Children's Miracle Network fundraiser through IHOP, who is very big supporter and sponser of the Miss America Organization. I got to go in for a couple of hours and take names at the front desk (and thankfully, there were a LOT of names to be taken!), and walk aroudn the restaurant chatting up customers. One little girl, Giavonna, told me she wanted a crown like mine. I told her maybe she can win a crown one day, to which she replied "No, I want one right now!" Ahh, a woman after my own heart. This year, IHOP's goal was to raise $1.5 million dollars, so that their fundraising efforts on this day would total $5 million over 5 years. I'm sure the final count of how much was raised will be released soon, so keep your eyes open for that! Overall, it was a great day and I even got to take home a free short stack!
And so, thus ends my reign as Miss Finger Lakes. I have been put in charge of choreography for the entire pageant this Saturday, so I have been kept pretty busy, but it's still very bittersweet to know that the end is so close. I can't say enough how incredible this experience has been for me. I've changed so much since I heard my name called that night one year ago, and I am so excited to crown the new Miss Finger Lakes 2010 because I know, whoever she is, she will carry on the legacy that this organization has built. I hope to hear my name called again, for another title in the future, but I know in my heart that I will always be Miss Finger Lakes 2009.
On Sunday, I am going to post the text of my farewell speech on here, just for my personal records. Other than that, this will be my last post on this blog. Thank you for being faithful readers, and for following along on my journey.
All my Love, Lorna Rose, Miss Finger Lakes 2009