Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2014 Iowa Pre-Teen, Carlie Jo Ahrenstorff Says Farewell

Small package, big stuff.  

As the smallest contestant in the preteen age category last year, I hope that I can inspire someone to not let what anyone says stop you from becoming the best you, you can be! I have always believed that; but National American Miss has solidified it for me. This organization changes lives one "pretty foot" at a time.  

Just two years ago, when I entered this pageant world, I did not know what I was in for! I just thought it would be fun, and I would meet some new friends that I would hang out with for the weekend, and that would be it. But my first experience at NAM in 2013, I placed 4th runner-up, and went to California to compete in the All American pageant. And......I was hooked. Who knew Rebekah and I would "just happen" to be in the bus line to Disney at the same time, and now...I'm pretty sure she'll be in my wedding party someday! Fast forward, year 2 at the Iowa state NAM pageant and I said to my mom, "Do you reaaaaally think I could win??" The answer from my parents has always been "Yes! But if you don't that's ok too. You have to learn something from every experience".  
And...I WON! I was so happy I cried! An extra bonus was that I won the state Actress title! So, back to California to compete this time in the Queen's pageant and I placed 3rd Runner-up in the nation! I LOVE acting, and was also honored to win the National Actress title!! Soon after nationals I shot my first television commercial. Anaheim was beautiful & I met so many wonderful people. (I believe I may have found another bridesmaid in my friend, Grace :) 
Throughout this year's reign, there were many volunteer opportunities; but the one that meant the most to me, was when I handed out books at Sanford Children's hospital. I was able to sit and talk with the children receiving treatment. One little girl was really eyeing my crown, so I asked her if she wanted to put it on! As I got face to face with her and lifted my crown onto her head, you should have see the look in her eyes. It melted my heart. She got to feel happy and take pictures for a few minutes; but I think I got more out of that day than anyone else. Volunteering just does something to your soul.  
The best part of having multiple Miss Iowas, all from different age groups, is that you have an automatic family. These sister queens have been amazing. I love each one of them and know that God has BIG plans for them all. Deut. 31:6 Be strong and courageous...
Breanne and Ryan Ewing, (I know you hear this all the time); but you are awesome. Being with you helping at the other midwest state pageants was a great learning experience! To be honest, sometimes working at pageants is long hours and hard work. A few tired days I just needed a hug, and Breanne was always there to give me one. I love you! Your story of overcoming fears inspired me from day one.  

To the Mayes, thank you for your dedication to this large NAM pageant organization. The values and the skills that we learn are practical and will help in real-life. And as we sat at the beautiful banquet on Thanksgiving Day, we felt so blessed to even have a prayer of Thanksgiving by Mr. Mayes. God is good. 

To all the contestants, at any age and stage in your life...
Be brave girls! Be brave.  
Be yourself.
Run for your dreams.
Achieve what you believe.
Value yourself.
Encourage others. 

Thankful does not describe enough of how I feel about this year's opportunities. As I take off this crown, the memories and the friends I have made will never be erased. But I also know that God has big plans for me as well. So I move on, and look for the path that is already prepared before me. Jeremiah 29:11 

I am your 2014 National American Miss Iowa Pre-Teen,
Carlie Jo Ahrenstorff.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Looking Back at Iowa Jr. Pre-Teen, Mya Leilanni Chup's Year of Service

As my mom has always told me, the symbol for Laos is the three headed elephant which symbolizes that God sees everything. So in my case, 3rd times the charm. I competed in my first pageant ever in 2012 and placed 4th runner-up to the Queen. In 2013, I placed in top 10. And finally, I won the title in 2014 as your Miss Iowa Jr. Pre-Teen Queen. That’s when I shifted gears and began my journey.
As I put the gear in drive, I donated money and joined the MS Walk to support Mica Wills, my mom’s best friend, who was recently diagnosed with this horrible disease. A couple days after that, I donated books and supplies to ChildServe. Kaylene Steele, volunteer coordinator, gave me a tour of the building and introduced me to the staff and kids. Seeing all those smiley faces melted my heart. Next up, the most memorable moment was seeing all my sister queens and cover girls for the first time for our photoshoot! That was such an amazing, fun-filled day. Thanks to Ana Leigh Photography, who is my sister queen Abi’s sister, for taking the time to do our shoot. As I cruise on to the next event, I donated money and walked to find a cure for the Heart Walk. Best of all, I learned how to perform CPR on a dummy and take pictures with Fred Hoiberg, ISU basketball coach. As I’m still cruising along, I finally got to meet our governor, Terry Branstad, in person- in his office- and even shake his hand! 
Zooming to my next event, my sister queens and I volunteered to help pack food at Meals from the Heartland. It breaks my heart to know that 1 in 6 Americans face hunger daily. But my heart feels fabulous knowing I changed the world to save the starving by packing 12,800 meals! Placing the gear in neutral as I take part in our Iowa State Fair Parade with my queens and cover girls. Although it was a cold and rainy day, we still managed to decorate and keep going. We took turns giving our speech throughout the parade. As Walt Disney once quoted, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Making another stop at The Children and Families of Iowa on Christmas Eve to pack and load boxes of Christmas gifts to families in need. Seeing the happy tears in people’s eyes as they picked up their gifts made me realize that people do struggle in life and how little things mean a LOT to people in the world.
As I set the gear in park and arrive in sunny California…..Nationals! Ahhh, sunny California! Reunited with all my Iowa sisters and cover girls. It feels so gooood! I spotted my state director, Mrs. Ewing, and had to take a selfie. Then another selfie with Steve Mayes. I even tried to get him to do duck lips, but that wasn’t happening. I enjoyed the day at Disneyland with my family and friends. I even had a blast shopping and walking down Hollywood Boulevard. Then we cruised on down to Santa Monica beach. Perfect day to relax and spend time with my NAM girls. As Nationals came to an end, all my hard work and dedication paid off, I placed 4th runner-up to the National Queen! My journey doesn't end here as I shift my gear back to drive. To this day, I still continue to serve my community, volunteer my time, and keep things rolling for the future…
Special thanks to the founders, Steve and Kathleen Mayes- Such an A-Mayes-ing program to help girls like me build self-confidence, poise, leadership, and public speaking. To my state directors- You guys rock, thank you for helping me throughout my year. Especially Mrs. Breanne Ewing, we take good selfies together. Mom, Dad- Big hugs to you for guiding me through my journey. I wouldn't be the girl I am today without you guys. Thanks for the opportunity in helping me DREAM BIG! To my brother, Kayto- Thanks for your encouragement and believing in me. And to my baby sister, Jayda- Thanks for practicing with me and being my little shadow. I know you will be the next Iowa Princess. To my sister queens and cover girls- You ladies will always have a special place in my heart. My heart beats for all of YOU!
Best wishes to all the Jr. Pre-Teen contestants. Be true to yourself and you will have an amazing time!
To my successor- Hang on tight, time flies, take tons of pics, make the most of it, and enjoy the ride! One more thing, cherish every moment. Every moment is a Kodak moment!
I am your 2014 Miss Iowa Jr. Pre-Teen Queen
Mya Leilanni Chup

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reflecting on the Year of Izabella Arndt, 2014 Iowa Princess

Izabella Arndt : Miss Iowa Princess 2014-2015

To quote Cinderella’s Mother -- “Have courage and be kind. When there is kindness, there is goodness. When there is goodness, there is magic.

I believe in Fairytales.  You see,I was born in the ancient country of China with a hole in my heart. I lived with my China Mommy and Daddy until I was 1-year old.  
Just 4 short years later, I was crowned Miss Iowa. When they put that crown on my head—I realized I was living a fairy-tale. Only my hero isn’t a handsome prince. It’s two strangers with big hearts that I now call Mommy and Daddy.  And it was clear I had two very special fairy-god parents, that I now know are my State Directors Breanne & Ryan. Together, they created this magical place in Waterloo Iowa, where they transformed my dreams to reality – not just for me, but for thousands of girls.
And what a magical year it’s been -- I was honored to spend my year as Miss Iowa , traveling and making a difference with my sister queens by:
--helping pack over 500,000 meals at Meals of the Heartland,
--thanking military veterans for their service at a special parade and ceremony,
--raising money and walking in the Heart-Walk to help doctors do life-saving heart research,
--meeting with Governor Brandstad and our West Des Moines Mayor to share about the need of orphans around the world—they even agreed to proclaim one-day “Orphan Day” to help with orphan awareness.
--assisting Children and Families of Iowa deliver Christmas gifts
--serving a picnic lunch to the amazing volunteer nurses and doctors at the FREE CLINICS of Iowa Volunteer Event.
--encouraging people of all ages along parade routes in West Des Moines, Ames, Lake Park, and the Iowa State Fair.
--speaking to our community leaders at our School Leadership Day, where I encouraged them to partner with kids—to make a difference in our community. After all, just because we are young, doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish big things.
And finally—I flew to California to compete at Nationals in Disneyland—where I brought home much more than a trophy, crown and banner—I brought home new life-long friends and so many memories I’ll never forget.
All of that was magical – but God had more than magic in mind when he blessed me with FIVE very special Big Sister-Queens and it was my very favorite part of my year as Miss Iowa. They are everything I ever dreamed a big sister would be, they are my role models. They are the sisters I will never have. And--one extra special, un-expected blessing was my Sister-Mom’s—their “mommy love and support” is addicting, I can’t get enough.
I couldn’t have done this without the amazing support of friends and family. They believed in me and supported my fund-raising efforts that made my journey to Waterloo possible.

This all wouldn’t be possible without my parents. I affectionately call my Daddy “BaBa” (the word for father in Mandarin). He is the most amazing Pageant Dad ever. As we traveled thousands of miles across Iowa and to California, he always, got us there safely, screamed the loudest, made me laugh—loudly, and loved me wildly, win or lose. My Mommy has given me strength and courage to be “me” no matter what others may think. Her love is like the magic that makes my hearts dreams come true.  I’m so glad God found me her!

To all the beautiful young girls competing this May—to quote Cinderella, “If you keep on believing-- the dreams that you wish will come true.

Never give up on your dream, no matter how bad things might look. Always walk confidently--you are a winner--no matter what happens or the judges decide.  

You can do the impossible—so, don’t walk “sprint” to your dreams—with confidence, laughter and joy.
As I move through this amazing journey as NAM Miss Iowa Princess, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. It was and always will be an honor to be your 2014-2015 Iowa Princess. From the not so ancient land of West Des Moines, Iowa, I am Izabella Daniellei Arndt.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saying Farewell To Iowa Teen Cover Girl, Haley Meyers

Being The Iowa Teen Cover Girl has made this the most amazing year of my life. I have learned and grown so much throughout this experience, and I have acquired skills that will carry me for years to come. 
I started my year of by walking in the American Heart Association Heart Walk, which is close to my heart because my father had suffered from heart disease. I also donated school supplies to my local Boys and Girls Club. I was in the Ames 4th of July parade along with helping at Midnight Madness in Ames and the Clay County Fair to honor our veterans. 
Before I knew it I was traveling to Hollywood to spend Thanksgiving week with my NAMily. The week of nationals was easily the highlight of my reign! My first time at nationals, I came home with the National Cover Model Title, I can honestly say that I had the time of my life and made memories with new friends that I will truly never forget!
There are so many people to thank for this journey and I know I will leave out a few, but know that you are all in my heart. First, to my Mom, you have been my biggest supporter throughout this roller coaster ride. I want to thank my dad for all of his support on and off the stage. And to my sister Alyssa, thanks for all of your love and support. 

To Breanne and Ryan thanks for being such great directors. Without this experience I would not be where I am today.
To my beautiful sister queens, you made this year incredible. No matter where we go we will always be sisters. I love you guys! 

To my successor cherish your time with NAM. This year will be over before you know it. 

Your National American Miss Iowa Cover Girl,
Haley Meyers

Thursday, April 23, 2015

2014 Iowa Jr. Pre-Teen Cover Girl, Addison Opheim Says Farewell

Hi Everyone, I'm Addison Opheim, my friends call me Addi, you can too! I'm your Iowa Jr. Pre-Teen Cover Girl and National Cover Model. It's been so much fun this past year with my fellow sisters. When we got home there was a welcome and congratulations party in my school. The next year would fly by.
When I got back I got to donate hats and mittens to all the children who would go through the school year with out. We also collected goods for our soldiers and did an "Operation Sweetness." I got to show them my crown and banner and tell them about my journey.
I got to ride in many parades throughout my area. One of them was The Veterans Day Parade in Spencer Iowa. My sister queens joined us for the day at the fair and we all went to a concert.  
Starting in the fall I did more fundraisers and gathered more goods to donate. My brother Aidyn and I worked at our fairground where we packages meals in bags to send to Honduras. We were the youngest kids who helped out. We also volunteered at the Midnight Dash in Ames where we handed out Popsicles to all the runners. 
Next my journey was to head to Nationals. My brother Aidyn, my mommy and daddy came with me. Boy were those two weeks a blast! It was a lot of hard work but we also go to play. I got to meet so many girls from all over the United States. When your a small town country girl this was a big journey to the big city! My mom always tells me "no matter what your dream is you can achieve anything as long as you believe princess! Because I believe in you" my mommy told me over and over my hard work paid off. I won the National Cover Model! 
As my year ends I've had so much fun and so many fun memories that will last a lifetime. Always be who you are and dream to the stars! Thanks to my family, friends, and my parents for allowing me to dream big!

Love Addi
2014 Iowa Jr Preteen Covergirl
2014 National Jr Preteen Cover Model

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jr. Pre-Teen Queens Have a Girls Day Out

National American Miss is all about friendship and family.  We always love when girls become best friends and take time out of their busy lives to spend time together. National American Miss Jr. Pre-Teen, Tatum Pearlman, and Wisconsin Jr. Pre-Teen, Lupe Pena-Nigh, became very close friends at Nationals, and recently got together for a girls day to go shopping. This truly is what pageantry is all about, making friends for life!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Illinois Cover Girl Organizes St. Jude's Benefit

Before heading to Nationals, Illinois Princess Cover Girl, Ellie Bennett organized a fun run to help raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In February, her local newspaper ran an article featuring Ellie, how she got started with National American Miss, her contributions to St. Jude, and her many accomplishments. Check out the article below!

Slice: Shy girl-turned-pageant princess Ellie Bennett organizes St. Jude's benefit

Sunday, April 12, 2015

National Actress Winner Films Commercial

At this year's national competition, we watched Iowa Pre-Teen, Carlie Jo Ahrenstorff place third runner-up overall and take home the National Actress award. Now you can watch her on your TV. In February, Carlie Jo filmed her first commercial with Mediacom. She has signed with the Peak agency in Des Moines, Iowa and is looking forward to many more acting opportunities.  Watch her commercial below!

Friday, April 10, 2015

NAMtastic Wedding on "The Knot"

Last August I was honored to stand next to two of my best friends, Breanne and Ryan Ewing, as they said "I Do" in the most amazing way possible. Clearly I'm not the only one that thinks it was incredible. They made it onto "The Knot" website! Check out the link below. Thanks for letting me be a part of your special day!!!
Love, Brooke Hughes aka bridesmaid number three

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Former Kansas Winner Produces Show on HGTV

We always love to here when former titleholders are hitting amazing milestones in their chosen career. Today is a HUGE one for former Kansas titleholder, Kassidy Knowles. Kassidy works as a producer for the popular HGTV show House Hunters International and tonight the first complete episode she produced airs! Tonight's episode follows a young couple who are moving from San Francisco to Helsinki, Finland. Make sure you tune in to HGTV at 10:30 eastern/9:30PM central!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Utah Jr. Pre-Teen Speaks at Annual Holiday Luncheon

Utah Jr. Pre-Teen, Miah Green spoke with Miss Weber County, Lexie Larsen, with the Miss America Organization at the Annual Let’s Do Holiday Luncheon for the Christmas Box House. Miah and Lexie spoke alongside Richard Paul Evans, New York Times Best-Selling Author. This annual event has an attendance of 300 people with speakers, silent auctions, business check presentations, amazing stories of kids helped through the Christmas Box House mentor program and of course, lunch. This is one of their biggest events of the year and Miah was thrilled to be a part of it.