Sunday, August 29, 2010

Before I leave....

I can't believe it is finally here. I leave in two days for Mrs. America. It is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am so honored to be representing Oklahoma in this amazing adventure. The following is a post I wrote back in June. I thought I'd post it again because I know a lot of people will probably visit my blog during the week at Mrs. America and this is what I would like all of them to know.....

Why do you want to be Mrs. America? That was a question asked on my Mrs. America paperwork. Unfortunately, my answer could only be fifteen seconds in length because it will be recorded and possibly played the night of competition - if I make the top ten. While I'm content with my answer I gave, there is so much more I wanted to say. It's not that I expect all the judges will be web-surfing the contestant's blogs before the pageant, but let's just say they are.....What would I want them to read here that would give them better insight into why I want this title so badly - into why it means so much?

I can't really describe to you what it's like to be told your child's life will probably be cut short. For me, it was a combination of numbness, disbelief, fear, desperation and many other feelings I can't put into words. When my daughter was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth, I didn't know what to do other than to hold her, rock her, love her, and pray - pray that God would heal her of the horrific disease that I was learning more and more about each day.

When she was a couple of weeks old, however, something inside me shifted. I still wanted to pray and hold and rock - but there was a new desire inside me -a desire to fight. I made a decision that a life-expectancy of 36 was not ok with me. I made a decision that I was not going to let my daughter become a statistic. I made a decision that I was not going to be ruled by fear, but that, instead, I was going to get out and do whatever it took to change my daughter's fate.

I threw myself into volunteer work for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, flying to Washington, D.C. for conferences, chairing our gala year after year, attending walks, all the while telling everyone I could about CF and what they could do to help. This past year, however, I came to a point where I felt I had gotten about as far as I could as "Hayden's mommy". I needed something more - a title that could get me into the public eye. That is how I was led to enter the Mrs. Oklahoma pageant.

I need the job of Mrs. America. There are so many wonderful things I could do for my cause with the title. I have plans in my head for appearances on Ellen, The Today Show and Good Morning America. I have an entire hour planned for Oprah on orphan diseases with an emphasis on CF. I need to stand before Congress to fight for the Clinical Trials bill. Without it, many people have to choose between entering a trial or having health benefits. I need to encourage more people to become organ donors. Many people with CF are waiting for lung transplants and liver transplants. We have a boy in my local CF community waiting right now for the latter. Every two months when Hayden has a check up, I find myself holding my breath as the doctor feels her liver and checks her blood oxygen levels. Now matter how well she is doing now, I always have it in the back of my mind that it could be her someday - it could be her depending on an organ donation to live.

There are so many things I could do with this title. Not for me, and not even just for my daughter, but for the entire CF community. I want to have an active role in saving my daughter's life. I want her to grow up and know that her mother did everything in her power to make a difference on her behalf. That is why I want to be Mrs. America.

Edited to add: Since writing this post, Congress passed the Clinical Trials bill! It will now go before the House of Representatives. Thank you so much to those of you who helped me write letters to our members of Congress!

Payne County's Got Talent

I had so much fun last night! I was asked to emcee the Payne County's Got Talent competition at the Payne county fair. The fairgrounds are a few miles East of Stillwater. I wasn't sure what to expect but it ended up being a very special night for me.
You don't go to The Country Kitchen at a county fair and NOT take the pie they offer you! That would just be wrong!I felt my Cowboy boots were appropriate for this event. I think I was correct considering there were cows and other livestock directly behind the stage! Some of the cows became very loud during the performances. Maybe they were wanting to compete?!
How precious is this little violin player???

Now came the most special moment of my evening. I looked off the stage to see that our second contestant was having some stage fright. Rylee is seven years old and has downs syndrome. Her mother was trying to coax her onto the stage. I went over to her and introduced myself. I was trying to get her comfortable with me so I started asking her some questions. One was "What song are you singing?". Her mother told me Rylee had planned to sing "Mighty To Save". Out of all the country and contemporary songs being sung that night, this precious girl was going to sing one of my favorite praise and worship songs! I told Rylee that I sing that song in my church. As soon as her mother that, she asked if I would go up and sing with her. She was singing to the background vocals track. She needed someone up there to give her confidence. I asked Rylee if she would come up there with me if I sang it with her and she nodded her head.
I sang, not into the microphone, but only where Rylee could hear me. She started out the song tentatively, looking over at me many times to make sure I was still there and singing. Then she became confident and starting singing full-out into her microphone. She started putting movements with the words. As a worship leader, I cannot tell you how moved I was by this special moment I was getting to share with this precious and very special little girl. It was true worship - it came from such an honest and pure place. I will never forget Rylee and that special moment I was blessed enough to share with her. I can only imagine how proud her parents must be of her.

After all the performances were finished, I had to kill time while the scores were tabulated. I started talking to the crowd about my daughter, Hayden, and her disease, cystic fibrosis. A lady shouted out from the audience that, if I took off my hat, she'd pass it around and collect money for the CF Foundation. I was blown away by the gesture and could not believe it when she set the hat back up on stage. It was FULL of money! In a matter of minutes, that crowd had donated over $120 to the foundation!

Before I left to head home, I had to take some pictures of the animals because I had promised Hayden I would. Her request was that I take a picture with a cow......It was a wonderful night! One I won't soon forget!

Balliets Fashion Shoot

Balliets is an amazing, upscale store in Oklahoma City. They recently opened their gorgeous new store on the Classen Curve and I've been dying to check it out. So I was very excited when they asked me to come do a photo shoot to highlight some of their new fall merchandise.
Here are some of the pictures from the shoot. Be sure to also look at the pictures I took of the new store toward the bottom of this post.
I was IN LOVE with the Burberry rain jacket!This outfit by Etro was beautiful! So classy! Check out these AMAZING over-the-knee boots!Oh, and these boots?....don't even get me started!This David Meister gown was gorgeous in person! So sparkly!This beautiful Ralph Lauren dress was sooo comfortable!Balliets has THE most amazing shoe department in OKC and the sweetest shoe buyer ever! Go see Betsy and she can help you find the perfect shoes for Fall!
Have a formal event coming up??? They have an amazing selection of gowns.Jewelry and Bags!!!!
Balliets has a clothing selection to die for!

My favorite area of the new store is upstairs!!! Just look at the new cosmetics area!!! It makes my heart skip a beat!
Fragrance wall!
If you live in OKC or are ever in town, you simply MUST come see the new Balliets. You can find it on the Classen Curve at 5801 NW Grand Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73118. Please check out their website as well to get more info and see even more fashions and pictures from the store.

Send-off Party for Mrs. America

I had an amazing time at my send-off party this past Friday night! Heather Rouba, Mrs. Oklahoma 2009, along with the help of my friend Bill Crouch, completely planned and put together every aspect of the evening. As people arrived I was there taking pictures and signing autograph cards. Sasha Townsend, Oklahoma's Mrs. Green Country 2011, put together a photo album for me of family pictures and pictures from my reign. She also had cards for people to write me well-wishes that fit in the back of the album. It is such a keepsake and it meant so much that she worked so hard on it.
After people had time to munch on hors-d'oeuvres, a fashion show began featuring models and yours truly. We all wore interview attire followed by beautiful pageant gowns. My beautiful Frankie Couture gown for nationals is being tailored so I wore a loaner.

After the show, I performed a couple of songs and gave a speech on cystic fibrosis followed by a video I put together on the same topic. Once that was finished, everyone enjoyed some chocolate cake while looking a silent auctions items. The event was $10 at the door and all money raised that evening went to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We raised over $1200!!!! It was such a wonderful evening and I felt so blessed to be surrounded by so many loving friends and family members. I hope I do them proud in Tuscon!

My awesome cake provided by Mrs. Oklahoma 2010 contestant, Joy Rose Murpy

With my husband, Ryan

With my dear friends, Molly Crouch and Whitney Molder

With Mrs. Greater Edmond 2011, Melinda Meadows
With Teresa and Quin from Avalon Correctional Facilities. Avalon is a major sponsor for the CF Foundation each year.
With my neighbors, Tiffany and Carson Wooster
With my awesome friends, Sandra Larby and Kelli Dupuy

With my cousin, Ginger, and her little girl, Addyson.With Mrs. Green Country 2011, Sasha Townsend
With friends Graham and Adrienne Turner. Graham is one of my daughter, Hayden's, favorite babysitters!With Hannah Reid. Hannah was a student at my fine-arts preschool I used to own when she was five. I can't believe she's in 5th grade now!!!
With Alana Hill and Winston Banta. Winston was my director and Alana was on the board when I was Miss University of Central Oklahoma in 2001.
With some of our favorite people - Carol and Chris Palmer
With my great friend from high school, Stacy Nance
With the director of the Oklahoma City chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Celia Palmer.
My mom, Cheryl Baldwin, with her BFF's, Glee Bertram and Donna Stevens.
With friends ,Drs. Quentin and Kelley Lobb.With my mom, Cheryl Baldwin
I promise I only had three bites of this cake! It was sooo yummy!
With one of the models, Stacy Saunders. She will be competing soon in Miss Oklahoma USA.
With my trainer, Brian Attebery, and his wife, Jennifer.
With model, Taylor Upson. Taylor is also a former Miss UCO!
With my friend Heather Rouba, Mrs. Oklahoma 2009

Bethel Idol Competition and Mock Interviews

I recently was asked to participate in two very fun events - both of which required me to be a judge!
My first job was to judge singers at the Bethel Foundation's All-American Idol auditions at Quail Springs Mall. The Bethel Foundation supports single mothers and this competition is their main fundraiser. I will be one of their celebrity judges on finals night as well.
Then I was also asked by Heather Rouba, Mrs. Oklahoma 2009, to judge some mock interviews for her. She is training six girls for Miss Oklahoma USA. I was able to interview each girl for four minutes then give my critiques at the end. I had a wonderful time meeting these beautiful young ladies and it was actually great practice for me! Here I am with the other judges:Those are just a couple of things that have kept me busy recently! There's more to come!