Tag Archive | Breast Cancer

Cover Girl

Maybe you’ve seen her on TV.  Maybe you’ve seen her face while checking out at the grocery store.  Maybe you saw her story here on KETV.


Photo courtesy People Magazine

Lincoln native Ashley Graham made history earlier this month, named as Sports Illustrated’s first size 16 model on the cover of the annual swimsuit edition.

CLICK HERE to see the cover, and read KETV’s story about Graham!

I LOVE this story.  Ashley is simply jaw dropping STUNNING, and this cover is absolutely beautiful.  I believe God made us in all shapes and sizes, and as long as you are healthy and happy, rock on!!  In addition, Ashley is NEBRASKA; she grew up here, went to high school here, still has family here.  She was ‘discovered’ by an Omaha photographer while shopping at Omaha’s Oakview Mall.  She’s also appeared in Vogue, Elle, on The Ellen Show, and has modeled for Jennifer Lopez.  It always excites me to see OUR people make it REALLY big in their chosen fields.. it proves to anyone else dreaming big that YES, it can happen to you, too!

I’m not sure if runways in New York or photo shoots in Belize are on THIS young woman’s radar..


Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

..but if they are, Savannah Rave is on the right path.  The 19-year old is the current Miss Douglas County 2016, and she’s been modeling for years, appearing everywhere from the cover of Omaha magazine to national TV.


Photo courtesy Bill Sitzmann for Omaha Magazine; CLICK HERE to read the article!

You may notice Savannah’s props in this cover shoot.. the Miss Nebraska Teen USA sash and crown she won in 2014.

“I fell in love with everything the pageant world has to offer during my reign,” Savannah told me recently.  “I got involved with Miss Nebraska because I value that it is  a scholarship pageant that shines a light on education of women and their ability to do so much good with their title.  I am excited to be involved with Miss Nebraska because I enjoy the opportunity of being able to have my voice heard at not only a state level, but also a national level.”

It’s not uncommon for young women to compete in both the Miss America and Miss USA organizations (CLICK HERE to read more about the differences between both, from the current Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Hollins)..especially for young women like Savannah who also love to perform.

“I sing,” said Savannah, who held starring roles while attending Elkhorn South High School.  “For the Miss Nebraska Pageant I will be performing a musical theatre vocal.”

Want a preview?  Click here to watch and listen to Savannah singing, a link she provided on the Miss Douglas County 2016 Facebook page!

Still, Savannah’s favorite part of the competition is the phase that spans both systems, Interview.

“I enjoy getting the chance to be face to face with the judges and informing them on my beliefs and ambitions,” said Savannah.  One of those priorities is her personal platform as Miss Douglas County, ‘Spread The Word To End The Word.’


“My platform focuses on stopping the derogatory use of the R-word and creating a more respectful environment for people of all abilities,” said Savannah.  “I chose my platform because of a connection I made with a young boy with down syndrome during my high school years.  I believe it is important for people to be politically correct in the terms that they use each day.  I believe in inclusion and in all abilities and want to spread the word in order to create a chain reaction in which people all over begin to monitor what they say, pledge to end the word, and become allies for those with intellectual and physical disabilities.”


Savannah on Facebook: ‘I spent my evening at Night to Shine which is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and was hosted at Harvest Church in Norfolk, Nebraska! I had a blast with my prom buddy, Debbi, and we danced the night away. I admire the goal of this foundation and event and its ability to bring people together in such an uplifting way.’

  Savannah is also a passionate advocate for kids, volunteering with the Children’s Miracle Network (partner of the Miss America Organization), Nebraska Students for Young Children, the UNL Children’s Center and the Friendship Home.  She’s majoring in Inclusive Early-Childhood Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she’s VP Recruitment Chair of Alpha Chi Omega.

Savannah on Facebook: ‘I am feeling so blessed to be a part of two amazing organizations. This morning I visited the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha which is a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and delivered handmade valentines that I put together with some of my compassionate Alpha Chi Omega Xi Chapter sisters! ‘

But above all of these connections and friends is Savannah’s commitment to her family and faith.  She’s the youngest of seven children and says her mom, Brenda Rave, is her role model.


“I admire my mother’s selflessness and willingness to do anything and everything for her children,” said Savannah.  “My mother is a breast cancer survivor and a true definition of a fighter and a woman of faith.  I look up to my mother for so many reasons: her strength, her independence, loving heart, wild side, and her incredible cooking.”

THIS is what keeps Savannah grounded through magazine covers and photo shoots and crowning moments, and the message she wants to relay to you as to why she’d be a great Miss Nebraska.

“I know I don’t need this title to make a difference or to be content with my life, because I already do, and I already am,” said Savannah.  “To me, the title of Miss Nebraska is more than a crown and sash, it is a job.  I should be Miss Nebraska because I am ready for the responsibility, ready to make a difference, and I am prepared for a busy year filled with appearances, community service and lots of amazing memories.”


Design courtesy Ellie Illustrations

Countless local girls may now be looking at model Ashley Graham, hoping and dreaming because if a Nebraska native can hit it big, maybe they can, too! HECK YES, THEY CAN!  And Miss Douglas County Savannah Rave hopes she and the other models, ROLE models she competes with, will inspire just as many future cover girls.

“The women in the Miss America system are educated, goal-oriented and ambitious,” said Savannah.  “Each woman stands for something she believes in and is not afraid to have her voice heard, which is something that should be respected.  The women in these pageants are role models I would want my daughter to look up to someday.”


Photo courtesy Katie Meeks


CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Douglas County 2016 Savannah Rave



CLICK HERE * Miss Nebraska Teen USA 2014

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 ggrubaugh@cox.net or by phone at 402-330-8033.


The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.


PREVIOUS.. Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Grace Heggem!

NEXT.. Miss Alliance 2016 Kate Lynne Duncan!

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!

It’s Personal

As journalists, we are ALWAYS searching for stories.  Everywhere we go, we subconsciously keep our eyes and ears open.  So it may come as no surprise that once in awhile, we come across amazing stories from the people we know ourselves.

Jen Shatel

Longtime KETV producer and friend, Jennifer Shatel and her family

Jennifer Shatel was a much-respected producer at KETV when I got my first internship. From the beginning, she was kind to me, included me in newsroom conversations, and gave me chances to write scripts and learn as much as I could.  When I started reporting on-air, Jennifer was always very patient, yet always gave me constructive criticism to get better.  When breaking news happened, or when a story fell through (or came up!) at the last minute, she was a model of control and made her newscasts look phenomenal, no matter what was going on behind the scenes 🙂  She’s continued to send me emails about my stories or well wishes throughout the years, even since she’s left KETV–you never forget kindness like that, especially from someone you so respect.

I was among the many here at KETV who were stunned and saddened to hear Jennifer had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  No matter what stage, what the prognosis, you hear a friend has cancer and it SHAKES YOU.  It was actually Jennifer’s idea to do a story.. to follow along on her journey and show others the decisions that are involved and the factors that play into those decisions.   I’m IN AWE of Jennifer for allowing us to do this–to allow cameras and all of Omaha (and beyond) into such a private journey.  She did–and I was honored to share Jennifer’s story last Thursday night.

You can watch it here.

If you’re a woman who has been through the same journey, hopefully hers is something YOU can relate to.  If you were recently diagnosed, hopefully Jennifer’s fight has given you the hope or inspiration you need to keep going.  If you know of someone who’s been through cancer, this is a great perspective as to what they might be going through.  A story we get to hear, thanks to one woman’s courage to tell it.  THANK YOU, JEN!


One week ago tonight, we shared another story that again I had a personal connection to.  April is Autism Awareness Month; autism is a disorder I have a strong passion for dating back many years.  As a teenager, I became very close to a family touched by autism.  As a college student, Autism Awareness was my volunteer platform while I competed in the Miss Nebraska system.  I met so many families and kiddos battling this horrible thing.. and all of these years later, we still know so little about this horrible disorder.  We do know the numbers continue to skyrocket.. now ONE IN 50 according to the CDC.  1 IN 50!!

Every April, I try to find a story to spread awareness of autism.  A family with twin girls; one autistic, one not on the spectrum.  An AMAZING young woman, graduating with honors, friends and dreams, showing everyone she can do anything she wants despite her diagnosis.  Omaha’s Robertson family, noted philanthropists, who have donated so much of their time and money to help families just like theirs (they have two sons with autism).


Hagen Schaefer, 4, Soccer Superstar!

This year, a beautiful mother named Ashley Schaefer contacted me about her son, Hagen.  She wanted to get the word out about the treatment that has given them so much hope, and given Hagen a new life in his parents’ eyes.  The Schaefers have greatly decreased certain processed foods and sugars from Hagen’s diet, and are also trying chiropractic work, all part of the DAN approach, Defeat Autism Now.

Watch Hagen’s story here

Watch the Schaefer’s story and see what you think!  They’ll be the first to tell you, many people have had negative reactions about what they are doing, and as always, we present both sides in the story and let you form your own opinion.  My hope is that for any parent of an autistic child SEARCHING for answers, here is one more suggestion that seems to be working wonders for this little boy in Fremont.  A little boy who recently played in his very first soccer game.  His mom Ashley told me, ‘this is one more thing we were told he’d never be able to do!’  And just look at how happy he is out on that field 🙂


Finally, a story I hope you tune in for tonight or watch on  ketv.com sometime this week.  A few months ago, my husband forwarded me an email from a friend of his, promoting a golf tournament to raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis.  I don’t know this friend well, but I was touched by his story; he and his wife are raising not one, but two beautiful girls with cystic fibrosis.


Presley, 17 months, Noah, 5, and Alexa, 7

If you’re a parent, you know how HARD it is to watch your child go through any illness.  You’d trade places with them in an instant so they wouldn’t have to feel any pain or discomfort.  For the Halls, treatments help and research is promising,  but there is no cure for this horrible disease affecting Alexa, 7 and Presley, just 17-months.

Alexa is an absolute SWEETHEART.  She is a very bright little girl; she let me interview her and her answers were very clear and well thought out–not always the case for a first grader!  Her sister, Presley, is A DOLL.  The epitome of CUTE CUTE CUTE!!! If she hadn’t already stolen my heart with her bright, blue eyes and plump cheeks.. she absolutely would have with her fish impressions!  It’s not fair these two perfect girls have to stop what they are doing twice a day to put on vests that literally SHAKE their little bodies, to break up all of the mucus clogging their lungs.  It’s not fair they have to take dozens of pills EVERY DAY to stay healthy.  It’s not fair Alexa gets sick every few months because a little cold to any of us, is a major sinus infection with great risks for her.

Her parents, Wendy and Steve, have so much hope for the research going on right now.. trials they say could make a HUGE difference in the lives of their girls and thousands of kids across the country.  But as with everything, it will take MONEY, DONATIONS to pay for that research.. and the Halls agreed to share their story to encourage people to help them get there.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember all of the facts and figures behind a cause, but these literally girls are IMPOSSIBLE to forget 🙂


As journalists, we LOVE telling stories.  When it’s something inspiring, something that might help someone else, something people will remember, it just makes our jobs that much better.