Monday, April 9, 2012

August 2011

August was the month of miracles! I found myself on the first day of the month back in the studio with Dolly to record a PSA for a late August Miracle Treat Day in Mandan ND. The second day of the month I got soaked while sitting in a dunk tank to raise money for the United Way and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. I Also signed autographs and watched our other state youth queens get dunked in the tank as well! So what does a Miss ND look like soaked from head to toe, makeup, sun dress, and all? I posted some of that video on on my video blog Miss North Dakota 2011 (or Ariana Walker blog).

As soon as I was all dried off I was off to Fargo for the weekend! On Friday I met with Jill at the Fargo Ronald McDonald House. That day we toured both homes in Fargo and I got to meet some of the staff and volunteers that help keep the homes is top notch condition for the families that stay there. Each year these two homes serve 900 families. My favorite part about the homes is that every room is decorated differently. Even the play rooms at each home have a different theme… I liked the pirate ship best!

The next day I got to do what I do best… SHOPPING! I set out with Mark early in the afternoon and from my hotel we went to Downtown Diva, Allen Evan’s Bridal, Little Black Dress, and the mall. I found some great outfits for rehearsals at Miss America and for appearances. We also met up with Katie Ralston, Miss North Dakota 2009, who gave me some great advice! On Monday I set off for KX for the noon show with Marci Narum. We talked about the upcoming Miracle Treat Day and what I was doing to promote the event in Bismarck and throughout my state. August 9th was the Miss America Contestant Lottery. I chose my spot in the Alpha group as contestant number 4. This spot is exactly where I was for Miss America’s Outstanding Teen in 2008 so I was very excited!

August 11th, the big day was finally here, Miracle Treat Day to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals was being celebrated at Dairy Queens across the Nation! I woke up early for two radio interviews. I met with Phil Parker and Jason with KFYR 550AM. There is never a dull moment when I am in the studio with the two of them; they kept me laughing. It was a fun start to an eventful day. Next was an interview with Dawn Scott of KQDY FM. I got to listen to some of my favorite country songs and promote Miracle Treat Day.

That morning, after my interviews, I went to the Dairy Queen in my home town of Bismarck to hang up posters and eat my first blizzard of the day. After taping a spot for the afternoon and 6:00pm news I went home to get ready for the night. For four hours that night I signed autographs and spent time with Hannah. Hannah is a Miracle Child who survived cancer when she was only 15 months old. She is a bright and fun-loving young girl with a great future ahead of her.

I was up early the next morning and off to Williston again to see my directors and spend the day delivering letters of appreciation to the businesses that sponsored the 25th annual Miss North Dakota pageant. Driving around with Marilyn I was so surprised by how many sponsors there were and I was delighted to be able to personally thank every one of them! It’s amazing to think of how many people make the pageant possible every year. I am proud to be the 25th Miss North Dakota crowned in Williston! The next few days I packed up all of my clothing for MAOT and spent some time at Spa D’Athena in Bismarck with Pat McCollum who generously donated a manicure and eyelash tint before my trip! On the 16th I was off to Florida with my mom, Renae, to cheer on Kylie Helm, Miss North Dakota’s Outstanding Teen as she competed for the title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen!

When we touched down in Orlando, Florida I had a sense of desha voo. As Miss ND’s Outstanding Teen in 2008 I had my own once in a lifetime experience at MAOT and so many of those memories came flooding back to me. The wonderful Miss Minnesota, Natalie Davis, was my room mate that week and we had such a blast! I also got to meet all 52 of the Miss America contestants for 2012 and I was delighted to make so many new friends so quickly. My first day in Florida I met up with the former MAOT girls, who are now MAO state titleholders, and we spent some time at rehearsals before the first preliminary night. A tear caught my eye when I saw Kylie up on the same stage that I had called home for the week of my own MAOT experience. She was beaming from ear to ear even though I am sure she was exhausted from all the rehearsals. The first prelim might went off without a hitch and Kylie looked stunning in her evening gown!

My second day in Florida I spent the morning with the Teens in Training Camp for a Q & A session. Tawni Darby has done an incredible job with that program, and I could tell that all of those teens had so much potential. Who knows one of them could be the future Miss America’s Outstanding Teen or a future Miss America! That night I co-hosted the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant sports wear preliminary. Never thought I’d be back on that stage to host just like Miss America would. Surreal moment… I think so! Thursday morning I woke up early but that didn’t bother me one bit! It felt like Christmas morning because I was going to meet with the fabulous Regalia Magnificent Apparel to select my Miss America gown! I won’t say much more except that Davis and Carry are so wonderful and my gown is STUNNING!!!

In the afternoon the former MAOT girls had a photo shoot with Jenn Cady in the trade show area. After the shoot I was off to visit with Artistry by Amway, the official make-up sponsor of Miss America, the make-up artists gave me some great tips and a bag full of products! Thank you Artistry! After the make-up lesson I taped my viral video shoot that will air sometime in early December. I really enjoyed meeting Marc Angeli, MAO Director of Field Operations, and the Tall Pony Production team! Before the final night of preliminaries all of the contestants had dinner at Maggianio’s Little Italy with the MAO Board hosted by the beautiful Mary Sullivan and Regalia.

Friday brought even more excitement as all the contestants traveled to Disney World for a day at the park! I have never seen the park completely empty it was a sight many never get the opportunity to see. All day long we rode the best rides and experienced Disney as VIPs. We even had lunch in the prop house at Hollywood Studios and almost got trapped in the Tower of Terror. I decided to take a short nap on the bus ride back to the hotel because the evening’s events were right around the corner. The MAO Gala was held in Longwood, FL, hosted by the Miss Florida Organization at the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Siegel. The evening was so glamorous, the people were very nice, the food was delicious, and the entertainment was great!

Just when you’d think my mornings in Florida could not get any more eventful… the morning I had been waiting for had finally arrived! The MAO contestant orientation! It was a great opportunity for all of the girls to get together and ask questions about the Miss America Pageant and learn about what to expect come January.  Before the final night of competition all of the contestants signed autographs and met the public as they entered the auditorium. This was my last night to spend time with the friends I had made and cheer on Kylie! Although Kylie did not make the finals she still did an amazing job representing the state of North Dakota! I am beyond proud of her for all she accomplished and seeing her on stage made me think of how amazing it will be to watch her compete for Miss America one day! Congratulation to the New Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, Elizabeth Fechtel, from Florida! I hope you have an amazing year and may God bless you on your journey!

Leaving Florida was bitter sweet. I know I will not see the girls until January but I am excited to get back to my state. I cannot thank the MAO Board, staff, and volunteers enough for the unforgettable week in Orlando. I found my gown, designed my dance costume, and shot my viral video; three more things to check off my list when I get home.

On the 23rd I greeted all of the teachers in Bismarck back to school at the BPS staff workshop at the Civic Center. That night I signed autographs for another CMNH fundraiser at the Mandan DQ. The next day was my first day of school as Miss North Dakota, yes school, I am about to try to attend college and prepare for Miss America 2012. Wish me luck!

Ariana Walker
Miss North Dakota 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

July 2011

July seemed to be the month of parades as I drove off to Dickinson for Roughrider days. I arrived at 9am and was greeted by a golf cart waiting to take me to my morning radio interview with KDIX. After my interview we drove back to the marshaling area so I could quickly change into my dress and hop onto the convertible right as the parade was starting.  The weather was perfect for the parade and for the rodeo following it. There I met up with Miss Dickinson 2012. I enjoyed talking with Cassie Ridl while we were signing autographs at the rodeo. She has an incredible personal connection with her “heart health” platform and I know she is going to have an amazing year!

July 4th brought the annual Mandan 4th of July parade. Like every year, we had hot weather and a big crowd. All of our state title holders from the youth division are from Bismarck this year and it was so nice to have them all together. I rode behind our Miss North Dakota’s Outstanding Teen, Kylie Helm, and Jr. Teen Miss North Dakota, Shae Volk. Once the parade was over, I went to visit my great grandparents at their home in Mandan. That night I spent time with my family and later watched the fireworks at the State Capitol with my dad and Levi. It was a perfect end to the day!

On the 7th I visited Sid Hardt at Clear Chanel Radio to record my PSA for Miracle Treat Day on August 11th. On the 9th I was back on the road to Selfridge, ND for the Centennial. This small town is where my dad was born and raised. He was so proud to have me attend the celebration, ride in the parade, and sign autographs. I was asked to introduce the fashion show and later in the day I rode a mechanical bull. Getting tossed off was more fun than I expected it to be, but I had a soft place to land! I met so many new people when I was in Selfridge and had the chance to spend time with family I do not see often because many of them no longer live in ND. Thank you to the Centennial committee for inviting me.

For the next few weeks I studied for finals in my two summer classes and finished my homework for the summer. On the 21st I traveled to Medora to speak to the Class A School Superintendents on my platform of Ronald McDonald House Charities. I felt so blessed to have an audience with these individuals and asked them to invite me into their schools to speak to students about raising awareness, funds and hope for RMHC. When my meeting was over, my dad and I went to the Badlands to do a photo shoot. Hiking in heels turned out to be more difficult that I thought it would be, but we got some great pictures of me in sky blue gown surrounded by spectacular scenery!

On the 22nd and 23rd Miss ND’s Outstanding Teen held a car wash to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. Over two days Kylie raised more than $1,000. Later that week I was invited to the Ronald McDonald House Charity Golf Tournament at the Apple Creek Country Club. I had dinner with Kathy Keiser and her husband, spoke to and thanked the participants and people who donated to the event, and handed out door prizes. On the 28th I visited the summer theater I was a part of for 4 years. Sleepy Hollow is a program that allows youth to express themselves through musical theater. I was so grateful to be invited back as a SHST alumni to speak before the last production of “Bee Hive.” I had a blast that night with my mom as we watched the show. The singers were amazing and I loved that they included the audience in the songs!

I have no idea where July went! Already I have spent over a month as Miss North Dakota and it gets better every day. God truly blessed me with a wonderful month. Here’s to 10 more!

Ariana Walker
Miss North Dakota 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

JUNE 2011

“You must give up the life you had planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you” - Joseph Campbell

From the instant I heard the words, “And our new miss North Dakota is ….,” my life has been forever changed. Since being chosen as Miss North Dakota 2011, I have been on the ride of my life. I was thrilled to have so many family members and friends in the audience Saturday night to share that special moment with me. Being crowned Miss North Dakota is a dream come true! After attending the pageant for years and watching so many take their first walk as the new Miss North Dakota, it was surreal to finally be on the other side of those curtains after they closed on finals night.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling like the whole night had been a dream, but reality soon set in when I realized I had a busy few days ahead of me. My first stop was a breakfast meeting with the judges where I learned some valuable tips to take to Miss America in January. I was interviewed by radio, TV and print media in Williston. And I was named an honorary Rotarian for the year!  I also met with my wonderful board of directors and received a large amount of Miss America paperwork to take home with me after spending ten days in the great city of Williston.

I came back to Bismarck to a schedule quickly filling with appearances and events. My first day back I had an appearance at Rib Fest with my Culture Shock dance studio family, and I ate a lot of BBQ with my boyfriend Levi! That Saturday, my family and I packed the car (we never really unpacked it) and made our way to Glendive for the Miss Montana pageant. There I performed a revised version of my Orange Colored Sky dance solo and welcomed a new sister into the MAO family. Taryn Chuter was crowned the new Miss Montana! She is a beautiful dancer and such a smart young woman. Thank you to the Miss MT board for making me feel so welcome!

June 20th was another busy day. In the morning, I was welcomed back to KFYR radio 550 to talk about the Miss ND pageant and my plans for the year ahead. It was a blast talking with Phil and Jason. I always leave the studio laughing! That afternoon, I participated in the United Way Day of Action helping the YMCA Day Camp kids plant sunflowers and paint pictures of gardens. The theme for the day was growth.  That same week, I met with my college advisor to re-work my class schedule for the coming school year and continued to work on MAO paperwork. On Saturday, my mom and I traveled to the Miss Dickinson preliminary pageant where I had the chance to co-host the pageant with Miss Dickinson 2011, Jessica Obritsch, and spent some time talking with former Miss ND Annette Olson. Congratulations to all of the girls who competed that weekend! I am excited to say we already have three new 2012 local titleholders.

June 27th had me off to Williston again to finalize some paperwork and have my official Miss ND photo shoot with Terri Rider of Terri Rider Photography, followed by a wonderful dinner with Renee and Jerry Rogness and a good night’s sleep at the Haugen’s, my host family. The next morning I finished up some Miss America paperwork with Marian and Liz and met with Basin Printers to pick out my personalized stationary, appearance brochures, and autograph cards. Driving back to Bismarck, my dad and I went through Minot and witnessed the devastating flooding first hand. My prayers are with the thousands of Minot residents displaced by rising waters.

June has been a month to remember as I continue welcome the life that is waiting for me. Looking back, I realize I am so lucky to have the support of my family and friends. In just one month, I have met so many new people who I know will play a huge role in my life. I am grateful to have everyone on the Miss ND Board of Directors helping to guide me. I am honored to have the wisdom and advice of all the former Miss North Dakotas. I am blessed to have my faith to keep me strong and my family to keep me level-headed. I know in my heart that this is going to be a year I will never ever forget!

Ariana Walker
Miss North Dakota 2011