When I was a green, giggly young reporter at KETV, I was blessed with an incredible opportunity to fill in anchor for our weekday morning show. I was so nervous.. anchoring for 2 hours straight everyday? Would people like me? Would I screw up the energy and chemistry that was already in place? Little did I know, I would get to work 3am – Noon everyday with some phenomenal people.
I guess when you work completely whackadoodle hours your form a deeper bond than most. And those concerns I had? They all evaporated on an early morning reading a story about the Beatles, when I accidentally said ‘Sir Rob McCartney’ instead of Paul.. and my co-anchor John Oakey stepped INTO camera view to say ‘um, excuse me.. he makes you call him SIR Rob McCartney?!?! I usually just call him Rob..’
John is one of the most phenomenal people I’ve ever met. He’s HILARIOUS, talented, and incredibly devoted to his family, church and community. I will always remember seeing the interaction between John and his wife, Kristi, and how in love they still are after 25+ years of marriage. That love expanded 4-fold a few years ago.
John and Kristi were the proud parents of two teenagers, but had been told many years ago they were unable to have anymore children. For years, they considered adoption but from where? How? They began the long process of background checks and referrals from family and friends, and one day, received a phone call: a 9-month old baby girl needed a home. They welcomed Trinity with open arms. A few months later.. another call.. Trinity’s biological mom was pregnant again. Hoping to keep the sisters together, the Oakeys welcomed Alivia, and began caring for two children 16 months or younger. This happened twice more.. and each time the Oakeys welcomed another child, first Kaleb and then Kinley. Here’s what John wrote about getting that call (again!) that Baby Kinley needed a home, too.
“Here’s the thing. How do you say No? There were countless reasons not to take her. Life was already crazy and hectic. Adding a fourth? Wow. But I was struck with the image of this girl, 18 years later, finding me and asking why I took her three siblings and not her. I did not have an answer. Except the overwhelming confirmation that we have been blessed. We are able to provide for our family. The Lord has looked after us. Now it was our time to look after this baby girl.”
This process was agonizing for the Oakey family; the fight to formally adopt was long and hard, and at one point, they were forced to return their children to their biological mother’s custody. All four are now officially OAKEYS, enrolled in school and THRIVING thanks to the incredible parents who opened their hearts and homes to them. (I encourage you to read more of the Oakey’s story on John’s fantastic blog Young Dad, Old Dad. CLICK HERE!)
Right now in Nebraska, several hundred children are waiting to be adopted. Countless more are in need of foster homes. A young woman from Gering, Nebraska is already planning her future foster family.. and encouraging others in her community to learn more.
Miss Scotts Bluff County’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Haylee Umble
“I have grown up around little kids; I LOVE kids,” Haylee told me recently. “My aunts and uncles used to have foster kids in their homes. I remember most of them very vividly. They are part of the family.”
Hayley attended Community Christian School and enrolled at Gering High School last fall. As she mentally prepared for both high school and the public school setting, she wanted to find a way to become active in her community and meet the friends she would go to class with everyday. She found those opportunities in a local pageant that also qualified her to compete for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen this April.
“I love getting out in my community,” said Haylee. “I had never really volunteered in my community much until I got my title, and I am quite sad I didn’t start earlier, yet very glad I am realizing now what an influence I can have. The girls and strong women involved in the pageant, whether they are competing, mentoring or organizing are and will always be a blessing. Getting to know them has been amazing!”
“I’ve never been shy, but I’ve never really thought that I could do very much in our community at a young age,” said Haylee. “The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant has shown me otherwise. I have the power of making an impact on kids, which are the future of our community. Being a good influence goes farther than I ever could have imagined.”
From schools to events to superhero fundraisers, Haylee has been all over Scotts Bluff County making the most of her title, hoping to show everyone she meets they are represented by a thoughtful, charismatic and fun-loving young woman who wants to build others up and help them succeed.
“I love people,” said Haylee. “I always strive to see the best in them and then bring it out so others can see it, too. Pageants are a way for girl to build confidence in who they are and what they are capable of. The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant is very focused on giving out as many scholarships as they can, which helps us girls have a better opportunity at a great college education and therefore a great future in which we can contribute to the world.”
Haylee is also channelling that impact into the family atmosphere that helped shape the young woman she is today.
“My platform is Fostering The Future,” said Haylee. “It focuses on the need to support our local foster care families, foster care children, and the great people who work with these families and children at our Department of Health and Human Services. I want kids in foster care to be part of a family, too. I want my community to support our foster care families so the families can focus on loving the foster children in their homes.”
Families like the Oakeys, who are now raising three, little princesses who I hope grow up watching Miss America and maybe someday, walk across the Miss Nebraska stage with their proud parents in the crowd.
John, if your little girls need a royal role model, Miss Scotts Bluff County’s Outstanding Teen Haylee Umble is your gal.
“My main goal at the pageant is not necessarily to win, but to do my very best,” said Haylee. “I want to build lasting friendships with all the girls as well. In the future, I wish to impact children as a teacher. I want to make the lasting statement on them that they matter, are special and are loved.”
For more information about the Miss Scotts Bluff County’s Outstanding Teen Pageant or how you can become a contestant, CLICK HERE to visit their website, or CLICK HERE to follow on Facebook! You can also email Director Cheryl Engelhaupt by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place April 21-22 in Omaha, Nebraska.
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!