“On Christmas night of 2009, Nebraska was in the middle of a severe snow storm. My grandpa and hero suffered his sixth heart attack.”
Imagine the terror this young woman and her family faced that night. Trapped in their homes, isolated from the help they desperately needed.
“The ambulance used chains to drive through the streets safely. Though my family and I were very anxious and scared, relief came knowing the emergency workers were moving quickly to assess the situation and stabilize him.”
Morgan Holen will never forget that night, or the sacrifice made by those emergency crews, working on Christmas and ultimately, saving her grandfather because of it.
“The following year my family started a Christmas Eve tradition in honor of these wonderful people by buying dozens of donuts and delivering them to fire stations, emergency rooms and pharmacies, thanking them for working and serving others on Christmas.”
To Morgan, this is simply a random act of kindness. Later this month, it’s a mission she will share with the country as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teenager.
(Thank you to photographer Jenn Cady for the photo!)
What the heck is Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen?!? Think of a younger Miss America. Teenagers from across the country compete under the same guidelines as the “Miss” contestants do, only these titleholders are 13-17 years old. (Check out my previous blog post about this year’s Miss Nebraska ‘Teen’ contestants and what the program is all about.) Morgan, who was crowned Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen in October, won the state title the same day as Miss Nebraska Megan Swanson.
(Photo courtesy of the Miss NE’s Outstanding Teen organization)
“Hearing my name was one of the best feelings ever,” Morgan told me recently. “It showed me that all the hours of preparing talent, checking current events, and maintaining a balanced diet and exercise was completely worth it!”
The Elkhorn South student says she’s happiest when she is busy, already active in honors classes, SADD, Pep club, show choir, dance team and student council (whew!) Morgan certainly added to her workload with this new honor; she’ll head to Orlando in just weeks to compete for the title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (the ‘little sister’ to Miss America.)
You could say Morgan has royal blood in her veins; her mom, Jodi Miller-Holen, was Miss Nebraska 1988.
Morgan is following in her mother’s footsteps in more ways than one; she is also an award-winning dancer, trained under the same woman who taught Jodi, ‘Miss Kitty’ Dahlberg. Dahlberg passed away last July after teaching thousands of Omaha dancers in a career spanning 50 years. Morgan dedicated her talent performance at Miss Nebraska’s OT, a lyrical dance to ‘You Raise Me Up’, to Miss Kitty.
Morgan competing in 2012.
“I have been dancing for 13 years and I have performed on many stages,” said Morgan. “I have to say I feel the most comfortable on a stage performing. I am excited to show America a talent I have been working on for so long!”
Morgan may have a few celebrity fans rooting for her as well; she’s taken classes from multiple ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ contestants and choreographers, including Stephen ‘Twitch’ Boss.
(Complete disclosure: I FREAKED OUT when Morgan sent me this!! I die!!!)
Morgan hopes to make ALL of her fans proud and says she is focusing her energy on preparation to represent Nebraska on this national stage. When Morgan wakes up August 3, she says she will continue to spread awareness of her personal platform, Random Acts of Kindness, whether it’s just in Nebraska or across the entire country as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.
“Throughout my year of service I want to go to schools and other places to promote kindness through my actions and words,” said Morgan. “People do not always remember what you do or say, but they do remember the way you make them feel. Anyone, no matter what age, can perform a random act of kindness. It does not take a certain amount of money or time, it can easily be part of our daily life. It will be my mission to try and spread this message and encourage people to participate.”
If you’re asking WHY, Brandi, WHY are you profiling another pageant girl?!?!? Because this young lady is LEGIT–she is the epitome of who I wish more young people, scratch that, MORE PEOPLE OF ANY AGE, were like. She is smart, hard working, gifted, beautiful inside and out, and KIND. These are the people who deserve the headlines.
Following Morgan on Twitter and Facebook since she was crowned in October, I’ve never seen a mean ‘tweet’ or status update about other kids, or a questionable, immature post about herself. The pictures she shares show a young woman unafraid to try new things or to work hard to achieve what she wants. And as I wrote in this post after Miss Nebraska, Morgan truly has a gift when it comes to dance; just as she hopes to spread kindness as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, she transmits sheer joy every time she steps onto a stage to dance. She is the whole package.
“I want people to know how much I love the state of Nebraska and that I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to represent our state,” said Morgan.
I venture to guess the guy who inspired it all, Morgan’s grandpa, couldn’t be more proud of the young woman his granddaughter has become.
Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place in Orlando, Florida July 27-August 2.
NEW THIS YEAR: The Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization is pleased to announce that the 2014 Competition Finals will be broadcast LIVE for first time! For a $10 donation, you can watch as the field of 53 is narrowed to only one, MAOTeen 2015!
To follow Morgan’s journey and to learn more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program, follow on Facebook and on Twitter, or check out the program’s website. You can also follow Morgan on Instagram.
To request Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Morgan Holen for appearances and events, contact Director Rachel Daly at firstname.lastname@example.org.