Tag Archive | celiac disease

Persistence

I’m biased, but my son is BRILLIANT. OK, I’m exaggerating, but actually, not by much.. at just 7 years old, he’s already reading at a grade level several higher than his own, he LOVES math and science, and I’m convinced he has a photographic memory. Many aspects of learning come easy to him… so he gets frustrated when something presents a challenge he can’t master on his first attempt. It’s a lesson my husband is always helping him learn, that sometimes, we have to try a little harder and it makes success that much sweeter.

We saw proof of that the other night.. playing a video game at home. Easton FINALLY beat a ‘boss’ that he’d been working on for days, persistently working through the same level over and over again. ‘YEEESSSSSSS!’ he shouted, a huge smile on his tiny face, and he quickly turned around to make sure Brian was watching. We were ūüôā

Flashback 16 years to an auditorium in Kearney. Tina Foehlinger stood on that stage, and FINALLY heard her name called as the winner of the Miss Tri-Cities Pageant. In the months leading up to that moment, she had competed in SIX locals, finishing first runner up SIX DIFFERENT TIMES. She never quit.

Neither did Courtney Pelland.

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Courtney has traveled Nebraska since last summer, hoping to win a local title and advance to the Miss Nebraska Pageant this summer. Time after time, she was named a finalist, leading to one last attempt in February.

“I was competing in my hometown, North Platte,” Courtney told me. “When my name was called, the crowd went wild. Being crowned in my hometown was an honor, and to have so many supporters there made my crowning 10 times more special.”

 

 

Courtney has dreamed of becoming Miss Nebraska for nearly a decade now, when she was a Little Sister to then Miss Omaha Brittany Jeffers. With Courtney at her side, Brittany went on to win Miss Nebraska and become our state’s first Top 10 finalist at the Miss America Pageant in 25 years. (Click here for photos!)

“I knew competing in pageants would help build my confidence, develop my interview skills, help pay for college, and build amazing friendships,” said Courtney. “I can proudly say I have friends across Nebraska and it is truly amazing how we inspire one another.”

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This is Courtney’s third year competing for a state title, first as Miss Sugar Valley’s Outstanding Teen, then Miss Fur Trade Days, and now, as Miss Nebraska State Fair. She’s used each title to advocate for a cause very personal for her: blood donation. Courtney has Celiac Disease, the latest in a series of diagnoses her sophomore year of high school that sent her to the hospital and in dire need of blood.

“My favorite part of being a titleholder has been touching the lives of kids, teens and adults with my personal story, and by simply listening what they have to say,” said Courtney. “I love telling them about the importance of blood donation and how someone save my life because of their donations.”

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Courtney has also helped organize blood drives, spoken to media and spread awareness in both North Platte and Fremont, where she attends college. Her goal is to collect 200 pledges by June 1st, no small goal considering she is also a full-time Midland University student, education funded in part due to the $60,000 in scholarships she received from Midland at last year’s Miss Nebraska Pageant.

“My career goal is to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse. I love children and babies!” said Courtney. “I may want to work in Children’s Hospital & Medical Center one day. Being a part of the Miss Nebraska Organization has inspired me; I’ve been raising money for them for four years, so why not continue giving back to them when I’m a nurse!”

That smile and passion for life are present everywhere this young woman goes, whether it to be a classroom, a donation site, or to a performance with the award-winning Midland Warriors Dance Team (yeah, Courtney dances, too.)

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“My role model is my dance coach, Katie Speicher,” said Courtney. “She came into a team that had just won the NAIA National Championships for 2017, moving from California to Nebraska just to coach a team like us. She has had her battles throughout the year but has overcome them. I am so proud of her for everything she has accomplished and she is someone I truly look up to.”

Now, Courtney is cementing that legacy for herself. She’s building a reputation as a strong woman who never gives up, just like Tina Foehlinger did 17 years ago.

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Photo courtesy Ben Fogletto for Press of Atlantic City

Just months after Tina FINALLY won a local title, she was crowned Miss Nebraska 2001 and then a Top 20 semi-finalist at the Miss America Pageant on national TV.

Colin Powell once said, ‘success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence.’ Courtney Pelland is hoping to find the meaning of that message early this summer.

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Photo courtesy Kamie Stephen Photography

“Success to me is when you achieve your personal dreams and goals,” said Courtney. “Of course, I would love to win, but in all I want to walk away with a whole new group of best friends through an amazing organization. I would love to make Top 8; I’ve been working really hard and I hope I can achieve that.”

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To follow Miss Nebraska State Fair Courtney Pelland on Facebook, click here.

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT COURTNEY?

CLICK HERE * 2017 * College Ready

CLICK HERE * 2016 * Everyday America

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The Miss Nebraska Scholarship Competition takes place June 7-9 in North Platte, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE to follow the Miss Nebraska Organization on Facebook

CLICK HERE to follow the Miss Nebraska Organization on Twitter

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Outstanding Teen Jade Vak

NEXT.. Miss Twin River’s Outstanding Teen Rachel Young

Up For The Challenge

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced?

The fact that nothing immediately comes to my mind as a forerunner tells me I have been extremely fortunate throughout my life. I think of breakups, hiccups throughout my career(s), how do I raise happy, healthy children, and simply time management. This is all just life, right?

How about this for a challenge.. battling a chronic disease, surviving a car accident, facing your parents’ divorce, all while double majoring in college and launching your own organization.

WHAT?

Miss Harvest Moon Festival 2017 Lianna Prill

“Although I’ve experienced plenty of life obstacles, I’ve used every experience as motivation to propel me to my goals,” Lianna told me recently. “I use my sassy and positive attitude to accomplish my dreams.”

Lianna doesn’t dwell on what’s happened to her. Instead, she focuses on what she’s doing NOW. For more than five years, she’s worked nonstop to make the world a better place and to¬†make her aspirations become reality. For example… her mission to become Miss Nebraska.

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“There is nothing I want more,” said Lianna. “When I was eight, I promised myself that once I was qualified to compete, I would give it everything I had to become the role model that I looked up to back then. This organization continues to give me a stage to perform on, a voice to share my message, an opportunity to give back to Children’s Miracle Network and a scholarship opportunity to help me graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln debt free.”

Lianna was crowned Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2012, the first step in that journey to achieve her dream. It was a chance for her to sing and perform for thousands of people across the state and at the national Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition that year.

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“I. Love. Talent.” said Lianna. “Standing on stage under bright lights and not seeing anyone in the audience allows me to truly perform for an audience of One. I believe everyone has a gift and belting out a song on the Miss Nebraska stage is how I give mine back to Him.”

But that exciting year wasn’t without challenges; around the same time Lianna finally found an answer to the crippling pain that had haunted her for years.

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“I unknowingly suffered from Celiac Disease for a decade,” said Lianna, who explains more about what that is HERE.¬†“I needed to adhere to a strict gluten and dairy free lifestyle. It was then I realized the crucial link between diet and wellness.”

Lianna spread awareness of Celiac throughout high school, earning a D.J.’s Hero Award and a $10,000 scholarship for her efforts.¬†She continued as a Miss Nebraska titleholder to advocate for others diagnosed or not yet diagnosed (approximately 1 in every 133 people).. but realized that her message applied to everyone, not just those facing this chronic disease.

“I wanted to make my message universal,” said Lianna. “‘Eat Well, Be Well’ focuses on healthy lifestyles full of whole foods designed for our bodies. Nutrition is a game changer and eating well makes you feel well and be well!”

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Lianna, a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, took her message even further, forming the Gluten Free Community on her campus. She’s also a busy¬†sorority member on campus, a staff member at the Daily Nebraskan, and a student with two majors in her work towards a career in broadcast journalism.

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Her hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed; Lianna is now a finalist for the 2017 Miss Nebraska Community Service Awards, and earned the People’s Choice Award sponsored by Hirschfeld’s Prom Shoppe after earning more than 1,100 online votes from her friends, fellow students, and perhaps, strangers inspired by her story. A story and mission that once again, are all part of her lifelong dream.

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“Hey, I’m not a Barbie! I lead a healthy lifestyle, and I strive to be well-rounded,” said Lianna. “The Miss America Organization is a training ground for interviews, jobs and life. It has given me the opportunity to hone communication skills that I will use in the future and in my career, not to mention, it funded my college career and allowed me to not only attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but double major and graduate this year. I have become the best version of myself because of the four points of the Miss America crown.”

Service. Scholarship. Style. SUCCESS.

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How do you measure success? Only if you rise about those challenges and accomplish your goals? Or do you succeed through pushing yourself further than you ever thought possible in the attempt?

Lianna Prill looks at every challenge as more motivation.

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Appearances speaking about Celiac Disease aren’t work; they are opportunities to help more and more people Eat Well and Be Well. Every time she takes the stage to sing, Lianna doesn’t think ‘what if I mess up?’ She embraces each moment and revels in it. The countless hours spent visiting schools and groups across Nebraska don’t take away from her time, they add to her resume as a future reporter and anchor.. and possibly, a future Miss Nebraska. THAT may be the biggest challenge Lianna Prill has ever faced,¬†and she says BRING IT ON.

“I want to give back in any way I can; the Miss America Organization makes that possible,” said Lianna. “I have worked incredibly hard on my journey to Miss Nebraska this year, and I am looking forward to seeing God’s plan unravel.”

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Harvest Moon Festival 2017 Lianna Prill, CLICK HERE to follow her on Instagram, CLICK HERE to follow her on Twitter.

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LIANNA?

CLICK HERE * 2016 * Wonder Woman

CLICK HERE * 2014 * Fueling The Journey

For more information about the Miss Alliance Pageant/Miss Harvest Moon Festival Pageant or for information about becoming a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook. You can also email Director Riki Cornish Hunter at riki.hunter@farmcoop.com or miss.alliance.pageant@gmail.com or call 308-430-4355.

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The Miss Nebraska Pageant takes place June 7-10 in North Platte, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Scotts Bluff County 2017 Nikki-Catrina Anderson

NEXT.. Miss Nebraska 2016 Aleah Peters

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2014-2016 click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

College Ready

I have been so honored, as of February 3, to be Co-Marketing Director of the Miss Nebraska Organization.  From the get-go, our Board has had several clear goals for this year: to set a new record in scholarships for our contestants, to provide new opportunities for Miss Nebraska and all of our titleholders, and to host one heck of a pageant in just a few short weeks!  That said, we could barely hold back our excitement at Orientation as Executive Director Rachel Daly told all contestants, their directors and their families that this year, we were proud to offer an estimated $1.3 million dollars in cash and college scholarships.

$1.3 MILLION DOLLARS

Yeah, that is worth the jumbo font. ¬†One of our key contributors, Midland University, is offering every single contestant, regardless of how they finish, $15,000 annually. ¬†That’s a guaranteed $60,000 for every, single Miss Nebraska contestant if they are accepted into Midland University. ¬†One young woman’s mother approached us to confirm this was all true, and when we said yes, she said she almost cried. ¬†Her daughter, Courtney, is going to Midland next year.

Miss Fur Trade Days 2017 Courtney Pelland

“I want people to know the Miss America Organization is not based on how beautiful we are,” Courtney told me recently. ¬†“Overall, this organization provides scholarships for the girls who compete to help with college debt. ¬†That is a huge deal.”

Courtney, a senior at North Platte High School, has witnessed the positive attributes of the Miss Nebraska Program for most of her life. ¬†As she told me last year (click here to read more!)¬†she and her family have been involved with nearly every facet of the program including Host Family, Little Sister, Teen titleholder, and now a Miss titleholder. ¬†Courtney has also been mentored by several Miss Nebraska’s, including Miss Nebraska 2009 Brittany Jeffers and Miss Nebraska 1999 Becky Smith.

“When I was 14, I wanted to start competing, but the only issue [I faced] was my shyness,” said Courtney. ¬†“Halfway through my freshman year of high school, my Nana (my dad’s mother) passed away, five days before my birthday. ¬†My Nana always loved pageantry and wanted me to one day compete for the title of Miss Nebraska.”

Now she will.  Courtney was crowned Miss Fur Trade Days last fall, in her first year eligible to compete for Miss Nebraska (click here to read an article about her win in the North Platte Telegraph!).  Volunteering has been a key element for Courtney in both her Teen and Miss roles, because she knows personally the impact one person can have.  In January of 2015, Courtney was admitted to the hospital, in dire need of blood.

“I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia; I was given two units of blood that day,” said Courtney. ¬†“Eventually I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, but I also realized how important it is to donate blood.”

And Courtney has been taking that message across her hometown and beyond. ¬†She’s spoken to students and groups, she’s organized blood drives in North Platte, she’s partnered with the American Red Cross to strengthen her impact, and she shares powerful statistics and stories on social media, hoping to compel others to donate. ¬†Click here to read the North Platte Telegraph’s story about Courtney!

“My favorite part of the organization doesn’t have anything to do with the actual competition,” said Courtney. ¬†“My favorite part is being able to give back to my community in a different way. ¬†A crown and sash don’t define someone, it’s about all of us girls making an impact on someone. ¬†I have a friend who says the reason he donates blood is because of what I had to go through. ¬†I am involved with this program because I want to make a difference in this world and help others out.”

¬†Courtney makes appearances and volunteers at events in addition to an incredibly active personal schedule. ¬†She works, takes part in musical, is a member of the Pacers Dance Team, trains with the Dance Factory in North Platte.. and she’s preparing for high school graduation next month! ¬†Courtney was named her high school’s Bulldog of the Month in December, click here to read more!

“I am a very busy girl and always on the go,” said Courtney. ¬†“Being this busy I have to be very organized with the things I have decided on. ¬†Once I put my mind to something, nothing can stop me. If I want it I will do everything in my power to achieve that goal or get to where I want to be.”

Courtney credits the Miss Nebraska and Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Organizations for helping her meet those challenges, and find support along the way.

“This organization has pushed me out of my comfort zone and into this bubbly, caring girl,” said Courtney. ¬†“I have learned that it is okay to state your opinion, ask questions and show the world who you truly are. ¬†I am now able to go up to random people and hold a conversation without even thinking about it.”

“On top of me finding my true self, I have formed some incredible friendships across the state,” said Courtney. ¬†“Miss Chadron Shaniah Freeseman and I are sister queens this year, and I have been blessed to have a girl like her by my side. ¬†She has become a sister to me. ¬†This type of friendship is the one I hope every girl is able to form.”

Making long-lasting friendships is one of Courtney’s ultimate goals for her experience this year leading up to and at the Miss Nebraska Pageant. ¬†She wants to network, make her hometown proud, and¬†use the life lessons she’s learned on this journey as she attends Midland University¬†to major in Fine Arts Management this fall. ¬†She’ll also have a little help every step of the way… some extra cash in her pocket thanks to the Miss Nebraska Organization, and some extra love in hand as she competes for her state title.

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“Every time I compete in a pageant, I have a buckeye to remind me of Nana, and I always carry it around before my interview,” said Courtney. ¬†“Knowing that she is by my side drives me to compete and to make a difference in this world.”

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Click here to follow Miss Fur Trade Days 2017 Courtney Pelland on Facebook!

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT COURTNEY?

CLICK HERE * 2016 * Everyday America

For more information about the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest/Miss Fur Trade Days Pageant or for information about becoming a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook.  You can also email Director Sara Smith at misscnwdirectors@gmail.com or by calling (308) 430-2613.

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The Miss Nebraska Pageant takes place June 7-10 in North Platte, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Brianna Little

NEXT.. Miss York County’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Alexandria Warneke

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2014-2016 click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Wonder Woman

I have a confession to make.. I am a JUNK FOOD JUNKIE.  Some days I run, stay focused, and feel like Superman.. and then my Kryptonite, peanut butter, takes me down. (mmm.. peanut butter..)

With the help of my friend and coworker, KETV First News Anchor John Oakey, I lost about 8 pounds this winter.  My husband and I spent a few GORGEOUS days in sunny Cancun, and I felt like a new woman!

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I came home.. and within a few weeks I not only fell off the wagon.. the wagon ran over me a few times. ¬†Easter baskets, Girl Scout Cookies.. and NUTTY BUDDIES. (Be still my heart..) I kept saying ‘I’ll start again tomorrow.. I’ll start again Sunday..’ and before you knew it, I got on the scale and had gained several pounds back. Even THAT didn’t push me back on the wagon…

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..but Gal Gadot did! ¬†Gal is the new Wonder Woman in the DC Comics movie franchise.. and SHE. IS. AWESOME. ¬†I left Batman Vs. Superman (which isn’t terrible, by the way!) ¬†DETERMINED to rediscover the self-discipline and drive to become the physically fit, healthy woman I know I can be. ¬†Sometimes you just need a little motivation.. and sometimes change is forced upon you whether you want it or not.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Lianna Prill altered nearly every facet of her diet and lifestyle because of a debilitating medical condition.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“I suffered for a decade without answers,” Lianna told me recently. ¬†“After finding I had Celiac Disease my sophomore year of high school, a strict, gluten-free lifestyle was needed. ¬†I was a new woman within days.”

Lianna does a GREAT job explaining what Celiac Disease is (CLICK HERE to read my interview with her in 2014).  The skinny of it is that certain foods cause Lianna INTENSE pain including migraines and abdominal issues.  She says once she eliminated those foods from her diet, namely gluten, her health was restored.  Still, Lianna was not content improving just her own life; she set out on a personal crusade to help others.

Lianna-Prill

Photo courtesy Corbey Dorsey for the North Platte Telegraph

Lianna, who also loves to sing and perform, was crowned Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2012, and later competed¬†at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. ¬†The following year, Lianna was chosen as a recipient of the prestigious DJ’s Hero Award for her work with Celiac Disease, including her time as an intern with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. ¬†Despite double majoring in broadcast journalism and advertising/public relations, Lianna competed for and won the title of Miss Kearney Crane Festival 2014, giving her another venue to spread her message. ¬†She’s a titleholder again this year, crowned last summer as the first Miss Queen City of the Plains.

“Competing in the [Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen and Miss Nebraska Organizations] revealed the beauty of Celiac,” said Lianna. ¬†“It’s a blessing, a motivation to always carry out a healthy lifestyle.”

That is because not only will Lianna compete once again for the title of Miss Nebraska, she is a very public representation of her cause, ‘#EatWellBeWell’.

“I understand that not everyone has Celiac, but I want people to realize the crucial link between diet and wellness. ¬†In other words, what you put into your body directly affects how you feel,” said Lianna. ¬†“Some do not know what it is like to truly feel well, because it’s their ‘normal’. ¬†I challenge everyone to evaluate his or her lifestyle. ¬†if you are constantly sick, ill after eating a certain food, tired after you eat (you should not be, because food is your fuel!) or don’t feel as healthy as you think you could be, find the root of the problem and do not cover your symptoms up with some kind of bandage!”

Lianna not only makes appearances across the state spreading her message, she also fills her Facebook page with information and tips on how to be healthier.  With childhood obesity forever on the rise, many of the groups Lianna talks to include kids.

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For anyone doubting the power of Lianna’s story, there’s this… instead of lying on her bathroom floor in pain, this future journalist is also the Engagement Editor at UNL’s newspaper The Daily Nebraskan, she hosts a radio show on campus every week, she volunteers with her sorority, Children’s Hospital and the Miss Amazing Organization, and she works here at KETV two days a week as one of our news interns.

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Now working with Lianna, I see her drive and ENERGY.  I see the water blueberries on her desk instead of Mountain Dew and chips from the vending machine.  I see Associated Press and Daily Nebraskan articles on her computer instead of TMZ or Candy Crush.  Lianna credits much of this to her years of participitation with the Miss America system.

“The Miss Nebraska Organization also gave me the drive, poise and work ethic to fulfill my dream of becoming a news anchor,” said Lianna.

This girl is on the right track.. and she’s pulling my new wagon onto that path with her. ¬†Gal Gadot may be my screen saver, but Lianna Prill is the Wonder Woman hoping to promote¬†health and wellness across¬†all of America.. as the new Miss Nebraska.

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“I am so grateful to have an opportunity to share this message,” said Lianna. ¬†“Listen to your body, because your health and life is so worth it. ¬†#EatWellBeWell.”

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CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Queen City of the Plains 2016 Lianna Prill

on FACEBOOK, on TWITTER, on INSTAGRAM

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LIANNA?

CLICK HERE * 2014 * Fueling The Journey

For more information about the Miss Queen City of the Plains Scholarship Pageant, visit THEIR WEBSITE or  FACEBOOK PAGE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Angie Trausch at (402) 984-2690 or angie.trausch@gmail.com, or contact Director Angela Keiser at (402) 578-8621 or angelakeiser@gmail.com.

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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.

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PREVIOUS..¬†Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Adella Smolsky!

NEXT.. Miss Kearney’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Shelbe Stroh!

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!

Everyday America

Omaha, Nebraska.

This isn’t just where I work, it’s the area where I grew up. I’m officially a Papillion girl.. I rode my bike to Papio Pool, sled on the ‘big hill’ at 72nd and Hwy 370 before the apartments went up,¬†and I graduated from PLHS back when there was only one high school.. #Old. ¬†The first home I remember was near Central Park in La Vista. I played softball as a little girl in Glenwood. ¬†I’ve spent countless family road trips heading west to Seward and east to Atlantic. ¬†This area is all I know–it’s HOME. (And I think these were the original lyrics to Sugarland’s Everyday America.. #TheMoreYouKnow)

North Platte, Nebraska is synonymous with the Miss Nebraska Pageant. ¬†For more than three decades, this city has crowned the women who have gone on¬†to compete at Miss America. ¬†So when North Platte is YOUR home, I suppose it’s destiny that someday YOU will be competing for the historic honor.

Courtney Pelland was been immersed in the Miss Nebraska Pageant for years, and one of the key descriptors of the accompanying Teen program, ‘Outstanding’, could be her middle name. ¬†I think they call this fate.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“My mom has taken me to every state pageant since I was 5,” Courtney told me recently. ¬†“I’m involved in dancing at the Dance Factory with Becky Smith-Wagner, Miss Nebraska 1999. I was involved in the Little Sisters Program in 2008 to Brittany Jeffers, Miss Nebraska 2009. ¬†We are Miss Heartland 2016 Tosha Skinner’s host family. ¬†The girls in this program are welcoming and open to who any one girl is as a person.”

While it may have taken Courtney awhile to come out of her shell and compete on her own, there was never a question as to what her platform of service would be.. she wanted to share her personal story.

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“My platform is called ‘Knowing Your Body, Taking A Step Back’. ¬†I decided on this platform after being hospitalized in January 2015,” said Courtney. ¬†“My hemoglobin was at 6.6 (normal is 12) and I had no iron or iron storage left in my body; I was ghost white.”

Courtney received two blood transfusions and iron that day, and had to visit North Platte’s cancer center once a week for the next two months. ¬†In October, doctors diagnosed Courtney with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition preventing the body from absorbing needed nutrients (like iron). ¬†In addition, she underwent a hip labrum repair in June, an injury that had caused Courtney pain for at least two years.

“This whole experience has taught me to pay attention to your body and know when something is wrong,” said Courtney. ¬†“That’s the message I want to get out and tell kids about.”

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So in November, when Courtney won her first title as Miss Sugar Valley’s Outstanding Teen, she set out on a mission to spread that message to as many people as possible.

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Multiple times every week, Courtney updates both her personal¬†and Miss Western Nebraska Facebook pages with photos and recaps of schools she’s visiting, events she’s speaking at, and where she’s volunteering. ¬†The North Platte High School newspaper, the Bulldogger, even featured Courtney in a recent article (click here to read more!)

“I have gone around volunteering for the Salvation Army this past Christmas, volunteering at my old elementary school, Osgood, at Fun Night, {in addition to Sutherland and Stapleton}, and served at the homeless shelter here in North Platte,” said Courtney. ¬†“My favorite thing about holding a title this year has been going out to schools and talking to them about my platform.”

Courtney is also an All-State choir member, plays the tenor saxophone, is involved with National Honor Society and volunteers at her local hospital for the JV Ambassador’s Program. ¬†Her home away from home is the Dance Factory, where she assists with pre-school and kindergarten classes at the Dance Factory, in addition to training in dance herself.

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Photo courtesy Irish Eye Photography

“My favorite part of the competition is talent because I get to show my skills, release and express my emotions and entertain the crowd,” said Courtney. ¬†“Through this program I have become more confident in who I am as a person and more comfortable with my body. ¬†I have learned to love myself for who I am. ¬†I overcame my shyness and learned more about myself. ¬†This organization is not based on beauty. ¬†It is based on intelligence and builds confidence in girls and women.”

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Now, with the support of her mother (who Courtney calls her role model and best friend), and the rest of her family (“I don’t know what I would do without them”), Courtney wants to become one of the women she learned from and admired all these years in North Platte, and continue¬†the sisterhood¬†of role models crowned in this great city and sent out across the state.

‘That’s how it goes in everyday America,¬†A little town and a great big life.’ — Sugarland

“My parents always tease me about being the social one,” said Courtney. ¬†“I enjoy being with people and talking to children. ¬†I should be the next Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen because I have a passion to share my experience with others.”

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CLICK HERE to follow¬†Miss Sugar Valley’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Courtney Pelland

ON FACEBOOK and ON INSTAGRAM.  You can also follow Courtney on the Miss Western Nebraska Pageant Facebook page.

For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Kyla Ansley by phone at 308-631-0938 or by email at kyla_ansley@hotmail.com.

For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com¬†or Director Kali Tripp at¬†kalinicoletv@gmail.com.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place June 10 in North Platte, Nebraska. ¬†Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER¬†and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Harvest Moon Festival 2016 Kara Kriha!

NEXT.. Miss Chadron 2016 Tyler Rambali!

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!

When I See You Smile

There are some people in the world who can literally light up a room with their smile.  Take one of my best friends, Melissa.. no matter where we are or what time we are at in our lives, her smile makes everyone around her smile.  She is PURE JOY, pure sheer goodness, and that positivity just radiates out of her.

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My best friends and I at Omaha Fashion Week.  Melissa is the hottie second from the right.  Thanks to Herb Thompson for the photo!

I first saw the young lady you’re about to meet when she competed in the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen pageant last fall, where she finished 1st Runner Up. ¬†From that night on, I continued to follow her over social media through the pageant where she would win her own title, and I don’t think this teen HAS EVER STOPPED SMILING.

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MISS PLATTE VALLEY’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 EMMA KATE BROWN

(Photo courtesy J Allen Photography)

Now, as I read¬†my interview with Emma Kate and see what’s behind that smile, her attitude not only inspires me.. she’s kinda knocking my socks off. ¬†Emma Kate is fighting two chronic illnesses, Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

“I¬†was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when I was three years old, so we’ve been doing gluten free at our house before it was trendy,” joked Emma Kate. ¬†“I cannot eat wheat, barley, oats, malt or flour.” ¬†(For more on what Celiac Disease is, click here to read my interview with Miss Crane Festival 2014 & Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2012 Lianna Prill.)

Emma Kate has also been an ambassador for Diabetes awareness and research long before her pageant days, appearing on KETV First News for an interview with John Oakey several years ago.

“Something else unique about me is my love for public speaking! ¬†I had a great time talking with John Oakey and showing him my dance moves,” said Emma Kate. ¬†“I wasn’t nervous a bit, but I do think my interview skills have improved.”

She’s getting plenty of practice; Emma Kate is also a youth ambassador for the JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

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Emma Kate: ‘Had a great time this morning volunteering for my favorite group, the JDRF. Met this little girl who was diagnosed with diabetes two months ago. She inspires me by how strong she is facing such a life changing disease. Loved getting to talk about my story and hearing hers.’

“My platform is turning Type 1 into Type None and it is about raising awareness and funding for a cure to Type 1 Diabetes,”
said Emma Kate. ¬†“[It] allows me to tell my story to businesses in the area. ¬†I also volunteer at JDRF events throughout the year.”

(For more about Diabetes and fundraising efforts in the Omaha area, click here to read my interview with former Husker Jay Foreman regarding his work with the Foreman Foundation, as well as Diabetes services through Nebraska Medicine.)

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Until I heard about all of this from Emma Kate during our interview, I had NO IDEA she faced challenges like this.  The 16-year old junior at Elkhorn South High School is on the go NONSTOP, participating on the dance team, in show choir, concert choir, in speech and in National Honor Society.  This year alone, Emma Kate starred in Shrek the Musical as Princess Fiona, and took part in a grueling competition schedule with Elkhorn South Blackout (the varsity show choir), including trips to regionals and then nationals in Chicago.

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And off stage, when she’s not volunteering, there’s yet ANOTHER side to this¬†girl.

“Even thought I am super focused and goal-driven, I love to get lost in a great book,” said Emma Kate. ¬†“I love the ‘Matched’ series, the ‘Selection’ series and the ‘Red Queen’ series. ¬†One of my proudest moments would be when I recently got a group of my friends to start reading as much as I do. ¬†Now we talk about books at our lunch table and it’s so much fun.”

One of those friends is Emma Kate’s fellow dance team member and Blackout star, Morgan Holen, the current Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

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“Morgan encouraged me to compete in an upcoming pageant. ¬†I was hooked after my first pageant experience in November. ¬†I was so impressed by the whole organization that I knew I wanted to take part in it,” said Emma Kate. ¬†“I enjoy meeting like-minded, successful girls my age and learning about their platforms and experiences. ¬†All the girls are so kind and I have made lifelong friends.”

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That is Emma Kate’s message to other teens who may read this; she wants to encourage them just as Morgan encouraged her.

“This program is relevant because there are more girls like me and other contestants who can benefit from the scholarships, volunteer opportunities and sisterhood of the pageants.”

I agree with Emma Kate on the positives that come from the Miss America Organization. ¬†I DISAGREE with her that there are other girls like her. ¬†That smile is simply one of a kind; welcoming, full of life, excited about what every day could bring. ¬†She’s got ‘Outstanding’ on that sash for a reason.. and Emma Kate Brown is ready¬†to prove it in North Platte.

Emma Kate Dance Team Pic (original)

(Photo courtesy Deyo’s Photography)

Follow Miss¬†Platte Valley’s Outstanding Teen Emma Kate Brown, and contact Emma Kate for appearances or events¬†via¬†Facebook, Instagram¬†and on Twitter.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Northwest 2015 LaRissa McKean

NEXT.. Miss Gering 2015 Kaylee Carlberg

To read more about the Miss Nebraska‚Äôs Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‚ÄėThere She Is‚Äô link at the top of the page.

Fueling the Journey

Someone once told me, ‘you eat like an 8-year old!’

It’s true.¬† I am a junk food junkie.

It is one of my constant resolutions; to EAT HEALTHIER.  After all, this 33-year old metabolism is NOT what is used to be!!

I want to eat smarter to look better, to feel better, and to set an example for my boys.  I want to set reasonable goals, still allotting for a little (or a lot) of cheating from time to time.

Today’s featured Miss Nebraska contestant doesn’t have that luxury.¬† For a decade, food led to endless pain and discomfort.¬† Everything she ate contributed to a puzzle that took ten years to piece together.¬† Now, she’s determined to save others from the same struggle.

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Miss Crane Festival, Lianna Prill

Lianna has Celiac Disease, a genetic autoimmune disease which causes damage to the lining of the small intestine, preventing absorption of parts of food important for staying healthy.

“Since the first grade, I would lie on the bathroom floor every night with constant migraines, sinus infections, stomach issues, etc,” Lianna told me recently.¬† “After countless tests, MRI’s, CAT scans, chiropractic treatments, you name it, no one had any answers for me.”

Ten years later, Lianna’s father was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. (He suffered similar problems for 25 years.)¬† Lianna discovered she also matched the criteria, like the 1 in every 133 people in America living with the disease.¬† Lianna says on average, it takes 6-10 years to be properly diagnosed.¬† She encourages all to check out the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness online, on Twitter¬†and on Facebook.

“Three years later (and for life), I still adhere to a strict gluten and dairy-free diet and am a new woman,” said Lianna.¬† It likely comes as no surprise, ‘Celiac Disease: Experiencing Gluten Freedom’¬†is Lianna’s personal platform of service.

“Currently the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Gluten Free Industry Initiatives Intern for Nebraska, I share life-saving information with Lincoln Public Schools, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the state,” said Lianna.¬† “Last spring, I became a D.J.’s Hero from this platform, and am proud to be a part of NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens and Schools program, training universities, campuses and restaurants across the nation to safely prepare gluten-free meals for customers and students.”

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Lianna’s work also¬†contributed¬†to her winning the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen title in 2012.¬† She first sought out the program with a passion for singing and performing.

“Where there’s a stage, there’s Lianna Prill,” she said.¬† “Integrating my 4-H sewing fashion modeling, my work ethic from showing cattle, speaking skills from speech team, fitness from a medically necessary healthy lifestyle, a platform to save lives and a need for scholarships for college, it was a no-brainer.”

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Lianna also has a personal connection to Miss America’s community partner, Children’s Miracle Network.

“This hits close to home as my younger twin sisters were born at one and two pounds,” said Lianna.¬† “Years later after their micro-preemie survival, our family was involved in the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon in Omaha.¬† Miss Nebraska was made for me.”

VIVACIOUS, STELLAR, SPITFIRE

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Lianna’s personal triumphs¬†have also helped shape the woman she has become.¬† Shortly after her Celiac diagnosis, she survived a car accident near Bertrand, Nebraska.

“A pickup blew a stop sign, hit me (I was driving) and we spun several times landing in a ditch and totaling my car,” said Lianna. ¬†“I crawled out of the passenger seat, because I was trapped in the driver’s seat.¬† Struggling with an undiagnosed genetic autoimmune disease for ten years and surviving a possibly fatal car crash both made me fight as an advocate for my health and cherish every moment that’s given to me with steadfast faith and spunk.”

They say life is 10% what happens to you, 90% how you react to it.¬† Here’s a young lady who hasn’t let chronic illness or adversity get her down; she’s used every challenge as fuel to be BETTER.¬† And Lianna is hungry for a new title in North Platte.

“This is a place for women to grow, flourish and bloom into the person they were created to be,” said Lianna.¬† “Miss Nebraska is a chance for young women to push themselves to become the best version of themselves possible, while representing our state with a good head on her shoulders, class and a hint of sparkle.”

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Connect with Miss Crane Festival, Lianna Prill

on Facebook, Instagram and by email at lprill@celiaccentral.org

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The Miss Nebraska pageant takes place June 5-7 in North Platte, Nebraska.  For more information, visit the Miss Nebraska website.

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