Once in awhile here at KETV, we share a story that really strikes a chord with our viewers.. and with us. Earlier this month, Julie Cornell spoke with Ralston Superintendent Dr. Mark Adler about the death of his son, Reid. The 15-year old was described as positive, friendly, a joy to be around both for his friends and his parents and sisters.
January 7th, Reid took his own life. His parents learned later Reid had been bullied and threatened for months.
This story rattled me. I’m a mother; I cannot even bear the thought of anything happening to my children. Dr. Adler told Julie he and his wife had an indication Reid was unhappy and immediately got him help.. he is the superintendent of a major school district, sees students and knows what to watch for.. and there was no way to see this coming. I strongly encourage ALL parents, or anyone who works with children, to click here and watch Julie’s story on KETV.
I simply cannot imagine what the Adlers are going through, and yet they have found strength to share what happened to their son to try and help other students. They’re fighting for Reid to prevent other kids from bullying and BEING bullied.
So is Miss Omaha 2016 Aleah Peters.
Aleah grew up in Millard just a few miles away from the Adlers. Just like in Reid’s pictures, her photos show constant smiles while surrounded by friends. Happiness.
Aleah told me a few years ago how much that smile hid when she was a teenager.
“When I was in high school I was bullied by a group of girls,” Aleah told me in 2014. “I feared going to school, attending sporting events or even answering my phone.” (Click here to read my entire interview with Aleah.)
Now, Aleah has made it a personal mission to prevent bullying, specifically cyberbullying. She calls her platform ‘Cyberbullying Prevention: Make Kindness Viral.’
“I have had the opportunity to work with multiple schools in the Omaha metro area and even conduct a critical analysis on the evolution of cyberbullying,” Aleah told me recently. “I understand how it feels to be alone. I can relate to people who have experienced or are experiencing this pain. Victims of cyberbullying usually have some type of psychological vulnerability making it difficult to defend themselves. I want to stand for the silent and change the culture of schools.”
While Aleah knows how harmful words and actions can be, she also knows what a positive impact kindness and leadership can have. Growing up, her role models were her baton teachers and coaches at the world-renowned Stepperette’s Baton and Dance, young women who were also titleholders in the Miss Nebraska Organization.
“I remember looking up to them and admiring them,” said Aleah. “When I was a junior in high school I competed in the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program and ever since then I have been hooked. I’ve realized the opportunities that have been available through the Miss America Organization and that competing for Miss Nebraska is really my opportunity to have a voice about issues I am passionate about and serve my community.”
It’s also another venue for Aleah to share her talent with a crowd, although performing for big groups is nothing new for this 3-time world champion baton twirler and the former featured twirler for the University of Nebraska.
“I love twirling baton and getting the crowd excited,” Aleah told me. “Almost everyone asks if I will light them on fire in reference to the movie ‘Miss Congeniality’, then follow with a sigh of disappointment when I tell them that unfortunately, it’s a fire hazard, but if I had the option to I would love to!”
Aleah is completing her senior year at UNL, majoring in Communication Studies with minors in Psychology and Leadership Communication. She’s a member of Mortar Board (a national senior honors society), Sigma Alpha Lambda Honors fraternity, and Alpha Phi, most recently serving as President. She has represented the Huskers on several fronts, including as family representative for Dance Marathon, as a Greek Ambassador for the University and now as an employee at the Office of Admissions.
If she becomes Miss Nebraska 2016, Aleah wants to represent the Miss America Organization, fighting the stereotypes many have about it.
“Not only have I had the opportunity to push myself to achieve my full potential in every phase of competition but I have also had the chance to serve my community, and grow as an individual,” Aleah said. “I would explain that the women in the Miss America Organization are women that care enough to make a difference. These women believe in something and are the ones willing to work hard enough to create change. I explain why I compete and the opportunities that I have had because of the crown on my head. Most importantly, when I interact with people I am REAL. I want people to get to know me and relate to me.”
And who is Aleah Peters? She is a young woman who wants to share not just her accomplishments, but the challenges and trying times she encountered along the way. She’s competing for Miss Nebraska for the family and friends who she describes as the most important part of her life.
She’s competing for herself, to show those ‘mean girls’ they FAILED to dampen her spirit.
“Beauty is the opposite of perfection. It’s about confidence, charisma, and character.”
And Aleah Peters is competing for kids like Reid Adler. She wants to show anyone who is bullied, kids who are sad, people who feel alone, that they are NOT. That there is MORE. That people CARE. And that whatever they want to do, whether it’s to become Miss Nebraska or just to be HAPPY, there is HOPE.
“I am confident that I can change the culture of schools and relate to the people I am working with,” said Aleah. “I want to meet people and change their idea of what a ‘pageant girl’ is. I know I would be a positive representative for the state of Nebraska. I am passionate about this organization, the Children’s Miracle Network (Miss America’s national platform), and Cyberbullying Prevention. I am determined to make a change.”
CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Omaha 2016 Aleah Peters
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ALEAH?
For more information about the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County Pageant, visit THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER. For information on becoming a contestant, contact Executive Director Marianne Grubaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 402-330-8033.
To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!