As a journalist, you hope your work matters. You want to make a difference in the world. Often, the stories I write and share have the incredible KETV platform; they are seen by tens of thousands of people (sometimes more!) and I rely on several team members like photographers and producers to put them together.
This blog is a little different.. while it started as a connection to KETV viewers while I was on maternity leave, it’s evolved into more of an independent outlet for me. Here, I can share stories that don’t always make the news, or the ‘behind the scenes’ parts of stories that didn’t make it to air. This is just ME; my crazy brain and the words it kicks out. Still, as much as my on-air stories, I want my posts to matter. I hope they mean something to the people I write about.
Last year, after I’d written about each of the Miss Nebraska contestants leading up to the 2014 pageant, I wasn’t sure of the impact or the reach. These young women were so busy and had spoken to any number of people about their journeys, why was I any different?
But one night, after preliminary competition, I felt truly special. One of the titleholders, surrounded by her friends and family members, spotted me, broke into a HUGE dazzling smile, and held out her arms to hug me as if we’d been friends for years. She made ME feel appreciated, like I mattered.
She’ll be back at Miss Nebraska this year.
MISS WESTERN NEBRASKA 2015 CHRISSY TOWNSEND
“I’m there for the job,” Chrissy told me recently. “I’m there to be the role model that I always looked up to as a little girl. I’m there to create and keep friendships and professional relationships for all of my later life adventures. I’m there to create my own legacy whether I win or not.”
Chrissy has already made her mark on the Miss Nebraska program, holding ‘Miss’ titles for four years, and competing in pageants since the age of 12 (including for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.)
“I’m not the same person I was then, nor am I the same person that I was two days ago, but that’s because I’ve grown and matured through pageantry,” said Chrissy. “I want nothing more than to carry on the job of Miss Nebraska with the utmost class and honor.”
Chrissy is already demonstrating that across the state, specifically for her platform, Make-A-Wish.
“I have been a part of Make-A-Wish for five years now, starting as a volunteer with my college sorority, Chi Omega,” said Chrissy. “It become more personal when my best friend’s younger brother became a Wish child. I am now a hotel room decorator for Wish children and their families (this is their first impression of how much fun Make-A-Wish wants them to have) and I am also an airport greeter (which gives you a really personal connection.) It’s amazing to be able to sit down with [them] and just talk to them about what they are looking forward to most. For children and their families to be able to escape from everything for even just a few days, it’s really extraordinary.”
Service is the most important part of being Miss America titleholders in my opinion, being leaders and role models. However, Chrissy is arguably one of the most exciting representatives of another point in the crown: style.
Chrissy is my ‘Academy Award’ nominee on this red carpet. I am always eager to see what she will wear! YES, there is SO MUCH more to Miss Nebraska than strutting around in beautiful gowns. NO, the winner shouldn’t be based on who can buy a pretty dress. (A–Evening Wear only comprises 20% of a contestant’s score, and B–many of these ladies network to gather support from sponsors and/or donors to help pay for their wardrobes) But the Miss America pageant, as well as Miss Nebraska, is also a SHOW–a presentation of the most incredible young women in our state–and it’s FUN to see these amazing women in these gorgeous gowns!! Chrissy has also modeled in the past, and watching her on a stage is like seeing a pro walking the runway in New York. At Miss Nebraska 2014, she was simply breathtaking (click here to read my ‘Best Dressed’ list from the 2014 pageant!)
And then there’s this… talent. Chrissy TRULY has a gift. Click here: Chrissy told me last year as Miss Lake McConaughy about her love of dance, something she’s taken part in ‘since she was in the womb’, according to her mom. Most recently, Chrissy competed on the nationally ranked dance team for three years at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
“I’m always a very giggly, happy person and my talent is lyrical dance,” said Chrissy. “It’s a very heartfelt, emotional style of dance because it’s based through the words in the song that you are performing to. You melt and breathe through every move. I want the judges and the audience to feel what I feel when I perform. [My talent song] is the song I eventually want to dance to with my dad at my wedding.”
Chrissy & Miss Omaha 2015 Megan Gould volunteering at an Omaha IHOP for National Pancake Day to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals ** Miss Panhandle 2014 Mindy Schreiber, Chrissy and Miss Crane Festival 2014 Lianna Prill after the 2014 Miss Nebraska pageant ** Chrissy and many of the other 2015 Miss Nebraska contestants volunteering at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital Rainbow House on Miss America Serves Day
“The women of the Miss America Organization are the most talented, giving, intellectual and beautiful women in the world,” said Chrissy. “These women are going to be your future doctors, lawyers, state officials, news anchors, trainers; the list could go on. They’re dedicated to making a difference in the world and in the lives of others. They educate about current issues and they advocate for all of the causes that mean something to them. It’s being a role model when society doesn’t leave you with much else to look up to. A real woman with a real cause and a real message can change anything within this organization and that’s powerful enough to keep this organization relevant.”
As Chrissy prepares for her final adventure at Miss Nebraska, she’s also reflecting back on her memories as a titleholder.. the garage sale she held in her driveway to raise money for pediatric hospital patients.. hugging her parents after a pageant was over.. dancing with the ‘little sisters’ who look up to her and want to be just like her.
“I won’t say that I’ve always been proud of all of my ‘losing’ moments but that’s because I let them be just that, ‘a losing moment’,” said Chrissy. “I’ve learned that coming away from an experience having learned something about myself or having made a difference in someone’s life is more important than a crown and sash.”
Maya Angelou once wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Most of the girls who take part in the Miss Nebraska system spend their year or years devoting their time and energy to making people feel special. That impact is far reaching–the causes they promote get more attention. The organizations they raise money for get a financial boost to then support others. The little girls in that photo with Chrissy will likely remember that neon dance party for years, maybe even be inspired to compete in Miss Nebraska someday and inspire MORE girls. For one night last June, I had a few moments where I, too, got to sense how wonderful these young women make others feel.
Today at KETV, we are covering an Amber Alert, issued for a little boy the day after his 11-month old brother was found naked but alive in a dumpster, their mother found dead in an Omaha neighborhood. Again, we hope the stories we write and share today make a difference; that they lead police to a suspect and find this little boy unharmed. Too often, these are the stories we tell in news, not by choice, but because they exist. Bad things happen in our world.
Chrissy, and the girls who participate in these programs, inspire us to focus on the joy and light in the world rather than the bad. They are reminders of LOVE, not hate. Sometimes, when we desperately need to see there are GOOD people out there, people like Chrissy remind us.. sometimes, with just a smile and a hug.
THAT work matters, and Chrissy Townsend isn’t finished yet.
Follow Miss Western Nebraska 2015 Chrissy Townsend
To contact Chrissy for appearances and events, click here to visit the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska Pageant Facebook page.
For information on becoming a future contestant, contact Director Heather Hayes at 307-340-0601 or by email at Heather.Hayes@chartercom.com.
The Miss Nebraska Pageant will take place June 3-6, 2015 in North Platte. Click here to visit the organization’s website, to visit the pageant on Facebook, to follow the pageant on Twitter, and to follow the pageant on Instagram.
To read more about the Miss Nebraska Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.