This past weekend, I was blessed with the most amazing opportunity to compete in the Mrs. Pennsylvania International Pageant in Altoona, Pennsylvania. (For more info on the International Pageant system visit www.mrsinternational.com) It was truly a wonderful experience, one that I have walked away from with new friends and fond memories! While I would love to thank everyone individually, it would probably take me the rest of the year to write them all out. Instead, I hope everyone can see here just how thankful I am for the entire village that took part in this event!
My Family: To my husband George, thank you for you unending love and support! To my brother Christopher Polk and his living donor Megan Allman, thank you for inspiring me to get involved and motivating me to continue raising awareness for organ and tissue donation! To my grandmother, thank you for raising me to be confident, ambitious, and for always encouraging me to follow my dreams. Also…thank you for my gorgeous evening gown! Mom, thank you for always being my coach, stylist, and sounding board. For steaming my dresses, going on jewelry hunts, and for my amazing opening number outfit. Dad, thank you for being my biggest cheerleader! To my mother and father in law, thank you both for not only allowing me to marry your amazing son, but also for constantly filling my life with love and support…and pretty flowers!
The Gift of Life Donor Program and Donate Life Pennsylvania: Thank you for allowing me to volunteer with your organizations and for allowing me the opportunity to advocate with you. I am so proud of the things we have done, of what we will continue to do, and the fantastic things still to come! I have new ideas…so get ready. Susan Koomar, thank you for facilitating so much of this and for being such a great cheerleader. I’m looking forward to a fantastic year ahead working together.
My Sponsors: To everyone who helped in some way with financial support (The Joyce Agency, Sally Smith, Julie Williams, Jen Kindler, & my amazing colleagues at WVIA), advertisements (The Gift of Life Donor Program & Geisinger Health System), or donations of goods or services, thank you so very much! This was truly an undertaking that would not have been possible without your support.
My Supporters: To everyone who has reached out in person, on social media, through text or phone, thank you for all your kind words and well wishes. I love you all so very much, and cannot believe how blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life.
Jodi and Scott Cessna: Thank you for organizing this amazing opportunity and for welcoming me with open arms into the International system. I can now understand your passion and enthusiasm for this system, and I am so happy it’s what has brought us together. Looking forward to continuing to get to know you better and hopefully one day becoming an official part of #TeamCessna!
Our Judges: Thank you for putting us at ease and for taking time out of your very busy schedules. I do not envy the difficult decisions you had to make since so many of our contestants were just wonderful .
To my ladies “backstage”: Julia, thank you for being my cheerleader and helping me get my “stage face” on! Camille, thank you for being awesome, doing hair and makeup, and keeping the mood light even when we’re all nervous as heck. Barbara, thank you for the gorgeous hair (even when I’ve basically shellac-ed it to my head, you knew what to do!). Debbie thank you for helping calm each of us down before interviews and giving us the great advice to breathe…I almost forgot that! Rachel, thank you for keeping everything running smoothly in the dressing room and for rocking some fabulous wrist candy bracelets! Sami, thank you for handling our rehearsal so efficiently, for being the MC with the mostess, for allowing me to coo over your little bundle of joy all weekend, and especially for helping me pick out my jewelry wardrobe. Jean LeSegne Designs is THE go-to place for all your jewelry and shoe needs!
The 2015 Teen, Miss, and Mrs. Pennsylvania: Mary, I am so inspired by your bold creative nature. You are the perfect fit for FIT, and I look forward to seeing all the amazing things still to come for you! Kailey, you are such a beautiful young woman filled with heart. Thank you for the cute plush from your platform (Cuddles for Kids), and thank you for all the amazing memories! And to my newest mentor and inspiration Cheryl, I adore you! YOU are a true example of a servant leader and I’m so looking forward to the next time we can get together and catch up!
Mrs. Delegates: Patty and Katie, ladies you are some of the most intelligent, sweetest, and passionate women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I wish we had even more of a chance to spend time together and really get to know one another, but I hope each of you consider competing again in the future. Each of you deserves that crown!
Miss and Teen Delegates: Girls, seriously. You ladies rock! I wish when I was your ages I had your intelligence, poise, grace, and beauty. I cannot wait to see what you lovely women accomplish on your journeys through life! And I have to do a special shoutout to my pageant sister, friend, and “coach” Kristina Marinkovich. I have no words to even begin describing how fantastic I think you are. Thank you for your friendship, your advice, and your kindness. I am so blessed that we’ve been brought together on this journey and I am even more excited to continue it throughout life!
To our Brand New 2016 Teen, Miss, and Mrs. Pennsylvania: I am so excited for each of you. Madison, Sherri, and Erin you are about to have the absolute best year ahead and each of you absolutely deserves it. Shine bright and share yourselves and your passions with the world this year just as you’ve shared them with me and it will be a better place! Congratulations and I can’t wait to follow your amazing year!!!!!!
This was my first adult pageant. I had no coaching and no experience, but I absolutely had fun. Oh, and I also managed to snag two awards: Most Photogenic and People’s Choice. Not bad for a complete beginner right? I’ll take it. You see folks, I truly believe it’s all about the journey, not just the destination. This journey has been truly amazing, and is far from over! God’s delay is certainly not his denial, so Erin…have a fantastic year. But make sure to get a step stool for the crowning March 18, 2017…I’m going to be wearing heels!
THANK YOU EVERYONE!