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