“It Takes a Village to Raise a Queen”
I’m back in New York after a long weekend with my family in Opelika, AL. Although busy, my visit was one I will never forget. My parents and community members threw me a Homecoming party, I received a Key to the City (Opelika) and I got to wish my dad a Happy Birthday in person. I couldn’t be a happier camper!
Getting to Alabama was a bit of a task. Wednesday I made my way to LaGuardia Airport to find out that my flight was cancelled due to some incoming weather. Soon enough ALL flights were cancelled and the next one out was Friday morning. Uhm…?? Plan B: Drive to Philidelphia and fly home from there…at 6:00 am. Lordy!! (Can you tell i’ve been in Alabama?). Thanks to my “Fairy Godmother,” Linda, I made it to Philly around 1:30 am and slept in the airport before my flight that was also delayed! Joy. BUT! I made it home and didn’t waste a moment’s time before I hit the ground running- full throttle.
First stop was Mom’s hair salon for a little root repair since I wasn’t able to make it to Vartali and my hair grows at the speed of lightening! After quickly getting some love for my locks, my Mom and I flew down the interstate to Columbus, GA so I could appear on the Dee Armstrong Show. I thought I was all done after Dee, but as Mom and I headed for the door, I was quickly redirected to interview for WLTZ 38 News. TV twice in one day? Who am I?
On to the Columbus Regional Hospital, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, that serves roughly 25 counties across the Georgia and Alabama border. We were met by Kim Samson, Director of Children’s Miracle Network at The Medical Center, for a personal tour of the Pediatric and Neonatal Units. The best part? There were no kids!! Although it would have been nice to put a smile on a few faces, it was better knowing that no one was sick. I had the opportunity to meet many of the Columbus Regional doctors and get a few photos, though. They were all so happy to see ‘Miss New York!’ Overall, it was a wonderful learning experience and really put in to perspectie where the CMN money Miss America raises will go. There were so many cute babies in the Neonatal unit and it was insane to learn that just one of their incubators cost roughly $35,000.00. So, Miss America ladies, we have a lot of work to do!!
When our tour was complete, Mom and I headed to my house (that was sans air conditioner) to drop off my luggage and head to my counsin’s, Cayson and Camden, T-ball game. Cutest. Thing. Ever. To end the full day, we decided to do dinner at one of Opelika’s newest restuarants, MaFia’s. The food was delicious and we were able to celebrate my little sister, Heather, and my dad’s birthday all at once. It was a long, but fantastic first day in good ole O-town.
Friday was a bit less hectic. I had the opportunity to visit East Alabama Medical Center and a majority of elderly and pediatric patients. My favorite patient, though, was Kelvin. Coming in to the medical center, Kelvin weighed over 800 lbs and in the past four months he has lost over 150! I went by his room to say hello and help him pump some iron, but most importantly to encourage him to keep working hard. I was a little jealous of him, though… he had a photo with Auburn’s head football coach, Gene Chizik!
The best part of my whole trip home was the incredible Homecoming party my parents and the community threw for me! I could not have been more humbled by the overwhelming support of the Opelika-Auburn area. It was so wonderful to see so many people who have supported and encouraged me in all of my life endeavors. The Opelika City Schools Superintendant (and my Opelika Middle School Principal), Dr. Neighbors, was there along with City Council President, Eddie Smith, to present me with…drumroll please….
A KEY TO THE CITY!!!!
I feel so honored and blessed to have so many people who love and care about me. There were roughly 18 people who hosted the event and a little over 100 that attended. Thank you everyone!! It was something I will never, ever forget. Aside from the amazing decorations and food, I was presented with a scrap book full of photos and signatures from those who attended. In addition, I was able to sell t-shirts with “AL <3′s Miss NY” to benefit CAPP. Score!
The rest of my weekend was filled with rest and relaxation. I spent some much needed time wtih my friends Ali and John Mark and, in addition, was lucky to have my family friend Carla host us for some pool time complete with Boston Butts and potato salad!!
I enjoyed every second of my trip, but I will say I am quite happy to be back in the Big Apple. I start CrossFitNYC today (they agreed to sponsor me-yes!) and I cannot WAIT to get going….so….i’m off.
Catch ya later, alligators!