The next four weeks as Miss SD were memorable. It started with my first school visit of 2019. I was off the Dakota Prairie Elementary to see the 1st graders. We talked all about saving, spending, wants, needs, and how to prioritize our spending. It was particularly special because it was a family affair. Yes, you read that right. My brother, Clark, came on the visit with me.
You see, I have a Mr. Money $heep mascot costume. However, it requires a person to wear the suit. Brother of the Year goes to . . . CLARK WINTLE. My brother put on the Mr. Money $heep costume and came on the school visit with me. The kids LOVED it. Not to mention, Clark was perfect because he knew every dance the kids asked him to do. We had a Q&A session with Mr. Money $heep. Almost every kid asked him to do some cool, hip dance all the kids are doing nowadays. Having a life-size Mr. Money $heep there was epic. To share the experience with my brother was priceless.
The next week I was off to warmer weather. Immediately after Miss America, my sisters tossed around the idea of having a reunion mid-year. Miss Louisiana was an entertainer on a cruise line for several years, so we decided a cruise would be the perfect trip. The only problem, I had always said I would NEVER go on a cruise. I was the type of person that immediately thought of the JAWS theme song or Titanic any time I was in a boat or near water. However, I was not about to miss out on a reunion with my Miss America sisters.
So, I packed my bags and headed for New Orleans. Twenty, TWENTY, of my sisters decided to go on the reunion. The ship left port, was at sea for a day, landed in Cozumel, went back to sea for a day, and brought us back to New Orleans, safe and sound. The highlights were spending quality time with some of the most incredible women I’ve met, letting a parrot sit on my head, and snorkeling with the fish. This has been a year of firsts. I am thankful to have sisters that push my comfort zone to new limits.
Once I returned, I was home for only a few days before my dad and I flew to Groton, CT for the commissioning of the USS South Dakota. It was particularly special to share this experience with my dad. He served in the US Army for 20 years and has an immense appreciation for the military. I loved learning more about the newest, most advanced submarine in the Navy fleet. Not to mention, seeing it in person. After the commissioning, my dad and I went to a restaurant in a harbor with some incredible seafood. I wasn’t about to be on the coast and not get my share of seafood. One of the best parts of this year has been sharing it with the people that love me most, my parents. My weekend in CT with my dad was nothing short of remarkable.
Another memorable, first time experience I had to kick off 2019 was attending Night to Shine in Rapid City, hosted by Bethel Church. I had heard of the event before, but never experienced it firsthand. Night to Shine is a one night event for people with special needs. It is a prom and party to celebrate the lives of some astonishing people. I went with Jessica and we were paired with a young man named Mason. Throughout the night we danced, took pictures, walked the red carpet, played bean bags, and rode in a limo. The night was a big party, celebrating God’s love for His children. Thank you, Bethel Church and Keith Culver, for planning an unforgettable evening.