Tag Archive | lincoln

Follow The Rainbow

One of my favorite events I got to take part in during my time at KETV was Omaha Fashion Week. I know NOTHING about fashion (I’ve got a solid 5-outfit rotation and that’s it..) but I LOVE seeing it. OFW offers anything and everything you could envision, from swimwear, to children’s wear, to the most beautiful gowns to the craziest avant garde designs. CLICK HERE to read more about my adventures hosting Fashion Week while pregnant.. or about the time I became Fashion Roadkill in front of hundreds of people.

This is an event where the people are art as much as the garments. Every designer chooses different models based on that collection or their aesthetic. You will see rail-thin and plus-size women, translucent skin tones to the darkest ebony.  This showcase is a spectacular rainbow of color and life, a display of the array of beauty God created in so many different types of people.

This year, you’ll see the same thing at the 2017 Miss Nebraska Pageant.

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The Class of 2017 spans from barely 5-feet to almost 6-feet tall (without heels!). We have dancers and singers, a SLAM poet and a violinist, pianists and a sign language artist.  They are young women with various backgrounds and ambitions, as different on the inside as they appear outside. It’s something one of these contestants is not just proud of, she’s made the message of diversity her mission during her time as a Miss Nebraska titleholder.

Miss Western Nebraska 2017 Devin Owens

“My platform ‘Representation Matters: The Importance in Being Present’, focuses on the importance of diverse role models/leaders/representatives in media, film, systems of government, our communities and beyond,” Devin told me recently. “With race, gender/sexuality, and religious issues being at the forefront of many of the national conversations/debates that we are having, it’s important to ensure that all are accurately, fairly and equally represented in various spaces.”

This is Devin’s first year as a Miss Nebraska titleholder, though she previously represented Nebraska in the Miss Black USA Ambassador pageant. Devin attracted media attention multiple times in that roll through her work to empower girls across the Omaha area.

“In the summer of 2015 I hosted the first ‘Queens For A Day’, which gave 20 young women from across the state the opportunity to feel like the queens they truly are,” said Devin. “Our day began at Memorial Park where we had a photo shoot with a professional photographer, and rode off to the spa in a VIP limousine. Once we arrived at the spa, each girl was able to get either a pedicure or manicure, we loaded back on the limo, and we went to decorate crowns.”

Queens for a Day 2015

CLICK HERE to read the Omaha World Herald’s story on Devin, or CLICK HERE to watch KETV’s story on her event!

This was the continuation of work Devin began in 2014 when she founded Project Poise, a leadership initiative for young women in need, focusing primarily on low income/needs based areas.

“Operating out of existing nonprofits, elementary and middle schools and after-school programs, I bring tailored programming to each site and work with young ladies on developing their core strengths,” said Devin. “Everyone has leadership potential, and my goal is to help these young ladies discover, embrace and grow within in their leadership potential.  I’ve had the privilege of working with over 250 young women in the last three years, and I am looking to impact even more as we delve into 2017.”

Solomon Girls Center

Devin has studied at both the University of Nebraska Lincoln and Omaha campuses, she’s worked at 10/11 News and now at the Peter Kiewit Foundation. So why add to an already busy schedule by competing for Miss Nebraska?

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“Overall I was once again ready to utilize the platform to serve and lead that the Miss Nebraska Organization offered and pageantry at large offered,” said Devin. “Upon winning the title of Miss Western Nebraska, I am really eager to learn more about the western portion of Nebraska that I haven’t been able to see as much residing in Omaha and Lincoln most of my life.”

Devin hit the ground running, lining up school visits to speak to students from all areas and backgrounds. She’s also extremely active on social media, stressing not only the work she is doing, but spreading the word about Miss Nebraska Organization sponsors and opportunities.

“I want those who are skeptical to know that we work hard, really hard, and are all passionate about the communities we serve and the platforms we advocate for,” said Devin. “For many of us, we wear multiple hats; whether that’s as students, employees, entreprenuers and more. I personally balance a full time job, being a student while paying my way through school, my own nonprofit organization and pageantry, not even considering personal or social obligations. While the many roles often leave little time for a personal life, I wouldn’t have it any other way. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Example is leadership’, and therefore I recognize the grave importance of my presence and activism in my community and state.”

Elementary School Visit

And while Devin’s main objective has been to empower others, she says she herself has been empowered by the experience, and the women she’ll compete with in just over a month.

“I am overwhelmed by the immense amount of opportunities to learn and serve my state,” said Devin. “One of the most important things to me when being a participant in a pageant is being able to walk away a better person than when you started the journey.  Having the opportunity to compete in three very different pageant systems, I must admit my favorite thing about the Miss Nebraska Organization is the sense of family I get from my sister queens, volunteers and state directors. I was nervous to enter another pageant system so ‘late in the game’ as I am 22 years old, but never once did I feel alone or isolated in my journey. It’s been a blessing to be surrounded by such amazing women from across the state.”

Our goal as volunteers who recruit women to compete for Miss Nebraska is to find the best representatives of our state and reward them for their hard work, talents and service. We don’t consider race, how much money a girl has, where she’s coming from or where she’s going. We are blind to who a young woman is when she reaches out to us saying ‘I’d like to learn more’, and we are willing to help anyone and everyone to become the best versions of themselves.

Devin and girl

Still, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t warm my heart this year to see a rainbow of little girls look up to our titleholders, maybe thinking ‘she’s just like me… and I can be just like her when I grow up.’

Devin in class

“When I close my eyes and dream of being Miss Nebraska, it’s an opportunity that I’d be so blessed and humbled to have,” said Devin. “I think about the potential lives I could impact, and bringing awareness to my platform on a large scale, it’s kind of scary, but an opportunity of a lifetime. Each member of this Miss Nebraska class brings something so unique to the forefront when considering who will represent our state next, so in any circumstance, the outcome will be great!”

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Click here to follow Miss Western Nebraska 2017 Devin Owens on Facebook, click here to follow her blog, ‘DJ Writing Out Loud’, click here to follow her on Twitter, and click here to follow Devin on Instagram.

Devin was crowned at Crowns & Gowns 2017, Nebraska’s largest annual prom/pageant showcase.  CLICK HERE for more details about the 2018 pageant and event! You can also email Director of the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska Pageant, Heather Hayes, by emailing Heather.Hayes@charter.com.

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

CLICK HERE for more detailsHERE to follow on TwitterHERE to follow on Facebook.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Hannah Miller

NEXT.. The Perfect 10: Recap of the 2017 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant

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!

From The Heart & Mind

I have a book called ‘What’s In a Name?’  I picked it up at the Afternoon about 10 years ago, and literally got chills as I read my description.. ‘creativity’, ‘future in speaking or singing in front of people’, ‘like to feel appreciated.’  Yeah, I bought that book.

How much of who we become is based on our decisions and the influence around us, and how much is driven by the first gift our parents’ gave us.. our names?

Madonna once said: “I sometimes think I was born to live up to my name. How could I be anything else but what I am having been named Madonna? I would either have ended up a nun or this.”

Kaelia Nelson was born with a mother and grandmother deeply invested in the Miss Nebraska Organization, so it seems fate that 20 years later, the girl with the name that means fortune, health and spirituality will compete for that title.

Miss Alliance 2017 Kaelia Nelson

“I have attended every Miss Nebraska Pageant since I was born,” Kaelia told me recently.  “My mom was the director of the Miss Alliance Pageant for many years and would have the state titleholder come to our town and speak at schools.  I was lucky enough to get to spend a lot of time with them.”

Kaelia admired each young woman through the years, in particular, Miss Nebraska 2001 Tina Foehlinger.

“I connected with her,” said Kaelia.  “I looked up to her so much and realized I wanted to have the opportunity to have that impact on young girls and be a positive role model in their lives.”

So Kaelia set out to follow the same path; she served as  Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen 2012, and represented Nebraska at the America’s Homecoming Queen competition in 2015.  Just as Tina traveled the state with a message, Kaelia also used her titles to make a difference about a topic that is extremely personal.

Kaelia shirts

“‘Stomping the Stigma: Creating Conversations about Mental Illness.’  I live with anxiety, depression, bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),” said Kaelia.  “People are afraid to step forward and admit to having a mental illness because society has made it such a taboo thing to the point where people are afraid to even talk about it.”

Kaelia has produced and distributed shirts, she’s spoken to classrooms all over her area about mental illness, and she’s caught the attention of local news agencies who have helped her spread her message.

Click here to read the Alliance Times-Herald’s story on Kaelia!

With each visit, there are smiles and laughs, but there is also a serious story.

“On June 5, 2016, I tried to take my own life,” said Kaelia.  “I felt extremely alone and hopeless in the battle against my own illnesses.  Individuals are scared of what people may think of them and therefore, do not seek treatment.  The consequences can be life threatening.  I never want anyone else to feel alone or ashamed like I did, especially not for something they cannot control.  This is why I have made it my mission to speak out and share my story in hopes that people will see and understand that it can happen to anyone and it definitely not something to be ashamed of.”

Kaelia shares the stats: that suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with 90% of individuals facing mental illness.  She shares what works: treatment, medication, and focusing on passions.  For Kaelia, that’s dance.

“I have been dancing since I was three years old,” said Kaelia.  “The feeling I get when I’m on stage dancing and hear the crowd cheering is something so amazing and thrilling for me.”

Kaelia dances at Nebraska Wesleyan University, where she’s a member of Delta Zeta- Beta Tau.  She also works at CEDARS in Lincoln, a facility dedicated to helping children in crisis.  She’s surrounded herself by support, and reciprocates by offering that same guidance and compassion whether she’s volunteering as Miss Alliance, or working and studying as simply, Kaelia.

“I used to be very shy and absolutely hated talking in front of people,” said Kaelia.  “Due to bullying I faced throughout growing up I was very self-conscious and thought that I wasn’t as good as others because of things that made me ‘different’, but thanks to be involved in pageants I became very confident in myself and what I am capable of.  I know exactly who I am and that my differences, along with everyone’s differences, are what truly make us all unique and special in our own ways.  In fact, the world would be quite boring if we were all the same.”

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So who is Kaelia?  A self-motivated dynamo packed into a 5-foot frame.  A determined student and volunteer from Hemingford, Nebraska inspired by the same young women she’ll be competing against in just a few short months at Miss Nebraska.  A smart, confident woman admired by the same little girls she was once like not so long ago.

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Back to Madonna.  She’s now in her fourth decade as one of music’s biggest stars.  She’s sold millions of records and performed around the world.  She once said, “I have the same goal I’ve had ever since I was a girl. I want to rule the world.”

Each of us given a name.  Perhaps we take from those book definitions the things we see within ourselves, or want to see.  Another meaning behind the name Kaelia: victory.  THIS Kaelia’s definition of that word comes from what she sees in every person she meets along life’s journey.

Kaelia Nebraska

“I would absolutely love to win Miss Nebraska and get to represent this amazing state, but my main goal isn’t about the crown on my head,” said Kaelia.  “Instead, the message I have to share and the people I get to meet because of it.  It’s what you set your mind and heart to that will count in the long run.”

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Click here to follow Miss Alliance 2017 Kaelia Nelson on Facebook.

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 detailsHERE to follow on TwitterHERE to follow on Facebook.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Makenzie Davies

NEXT.. Miss Twin Rivers Outstanding Teen 2017 Katy Greene

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!

Asking Questions, Saving Lives

Miss America 2009 Katie Stam once said, “I wish I could add a fifth point to the Miss America crown.  There’s scholarship, style, service, and success.. I wish I could add substance.”

YASSSS.

As I’ve noted countless times, these young women are about so much more than makeup, hairspray and heels.  They want to make a difference.  They want to make people smile.  They want to improve lives.

In some cases, they want to save lives.

Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Makenzie Davies

“After hearing so many stories of teen suicide and just suicide in general, I felt like I needed to make a change,” Makenzie told me recently.  “Lifeguards are certified in CPR and lifesaving techniques.  Young parents look for daycare providers who are trained to care for their children in the case of an emergency.  Schools and local businesses often require their staff to be certified in CPR for the added safety of their students or customers.  There is now another program readily available and would allow people to be trained to help someone in the case of mental or emotional crises that could lead to the person choosing suicide as their solution.”

A powerful message shared by a passionate, young advocate.  Makenzie is a student at St. Patrick’s High School in North Platte, describing herself as hard-working and dedicated.

“Being dedicated to something means you are devoted to a purpose or task, having loyalty or integrity towards that purpose,” said Makenzie.”  “Hard-work is taking it a step further by working with energy and commitment, being diligent towards the purpose or task.”

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That mentality helped Makenzie win the title of Miss Northwests’s Outstanding Teen last fall, something she had hoped for for several years.

“As a Little Sister Alumni, I have had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer and be involved in this organization every year,” said Makenzie.  “I actually volunteered last year backstage for the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant and I had so much fun.  That day, I told my mom this is what I want to do.”

And Makenzie embraces ALL aspects of the organization, not just what she saw that night on stage.

In addition to her high school studies and activities, Makenzie has embraced her role as a community leader and public servant.  She has visited classrooms to read, emceed charity events like the Bowl-A-Thon for Junior Achievement of Lincoln, and visited with the little girls who look up to her just as she did not so long ago.

Makenzie has also used her title to spread awareness about that cause she’s so passionate about: suicide prevention.  She calls her personal platform ‘Ask a Question. Save a Life.’

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst teens today,” said Makenzie.  “Teens attempting suicide have a very hard time talking to someone about their problems.  Teens feeling suicidal often feel hopeless, isolated and powerless to change the situation they are in.  This is why the QPR program (Question, Persuade, Refer) is so important to me.”

MakenzieDavies-StPatsSchoolShot

Makenzie ordered and distributed awareness bracelets at school assemblies.  Her school rallied behind her efforts, gathering all students for a presentation by Makenzie on suicide awareness. (An event covered by KNOP – click here to watch their story!)  She’s also visited state senators in Lincoln to advocate for suicide awareness legislation.

makenzie state capitol

“My plan is to motivate people in local communities to recognize the need for certifications in QPR,” said Makenzie.  “The QPR program has been implemented in may communities as a required certification for teachers, police officers, hospital support staff and local community members.  The 90-minute training helps to remove the stigma of fear and train people to effectively speak to those that may be in crisis.”

Makenzie hopes to broaden her message even more, by becoming Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen later this month.

“I would really like to continue working with Region 2 Health and Human Services to build awareness of the QPR Program and stop teen suicide,” said Makenzie.  “[This organization] has taught me how to go after what I believe in, which is stopping teen suicide and building the awareness of the growing epidemic.  It has also helped me in so many ways on a personal level.”

Makenzie notes improved communication skills, friendships, and the chance to share one of her other passions: dance.

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“My favorite part of the competition is definitely the talent portion,” said Makenzie.  “I have been dancing since I was 4 years old so being able to learn a new dance and show the judges and audience my passion and love for it really makes me excited to perform.  To perform by myself on stage dancing and really show the fun that I am having is really exhilarating.”

Makenzie used one more word to describe herself: kind.  And perhaps, that’s where this young woman’s story about pageants, performance and passion comes full circle.

“I try to live by what my parents have always told me,” said Makenzie.  “That is, ‘you never know what is going on in another person’s life so always choose to be kind.”

“To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.” – Mary Stuart

I’d argue this is the biggest point we can all take away from this young woman and outstanding teens like her.  What kind of difference can you make in the world today by simply asking questions, caring, and being kind?  Makenzie Davies wants to find out.

“I put my heart into the things I choose to do,” said Makenzie.  “I feel that if you are doing something you like and work hard, you will get the most out of life.”

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Click here to follow Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Makenzie Davies on Facebook!

For more information about the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest/Miss Fur Trade Days’ Outstanding Teen Program or for information about becoming a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook.  You can also email Director Amanda Vogel by emailing maoteenchadron@gmail.com or calling 308-665-5595.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place April 21-22 in Omaha, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on TwitterHERE to follow on Facebook. For more information about becoming a contestant, email Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Hope McCoy

NEXT.. Miss Alliance 2017 Kaelia Nelson

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!

Nebraska Nice

NEBRASKA.

We are the Heartland, the Midwest, the centermost point of the United States.  We are urban and rural.  We are Fortune 500 and the Future Farmers of America.  We are closing in on 2-million strong.. emphasis on the STRONG.  And hardworking.  And kind.

I joke that my Nebraska coat has many colors.  I’m a proud Papillion native.  Omaha is where I’ve found success.  Gretna is now home.  I count down the days every year until my annual trip to North Platte, I spent several years cheering on my Huskers in Lincoln, the list goes on and on.

Every young woman competing this year to become Miss Nebraska or Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen has their own state story.. one, a Tiger proudly representing her community of 1700.

Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Hope McCoy

14-year old Hope McCoy calls Mitchell, Nebraska home.  The small town about 20 miles northwest of Gering is what spurred Hope to put on a crown and sash and step into the spotlight.

“I decided to compete in local pageants because I love being a party of my community,” Hope told me recently.  “I have been in pageants since I was six years old and I loved it.  Being a part of it felt like being more involved; I love meeting new people and making new friends.”

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Hope describes herself as petite, unique and caring.

“Unique because I don’t like to blend with the ‘crowd’,” said Hope.  “I love being different from other girls.  I love being who I am!  I have always cared for people no matter what.  Whenever we get a new student in school, I always make sure that I go and talk to them and make them feel welcome.”

Hope with Haylee

“There are so many amazing girls that compete [in Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen], and I have made so many new friends with all of them,” said Hope.  “The other part of the experience is gaining new knowledge.  I want [people] to know this is not just about the gowns, makeup and the crowns.  Pageants can help you get into good colleges just like any sport.  You gain knowledge doing pageants, not just walking in a nice dress.”

All of this, insight and opportunity she is using as part of her role as a leader throughout Mitchell and beyond.

 In addition to her studies at Mitchell Junior/Senior High, Hope volunteers and takes part in appearances to benefit Children’s Miracle Network and as part of her personal platform of service, Read Across America.

“Ever since I was very little I have always loved reading,” said Hope.  “So when I decided to compete in pageants I wanted my platform to be about reading.  I want to go to libraries across the state and read to children.  I want to go and help out the elderly in my community with anything they need me to do.  I want to sing in all of the care centers for elderly people, and I enjoy hearing their stories.  Any volunteer positions in my community, I want to be part of.”

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Our state motto is Nebraska Nice.. and I’d argue you’d find proof of that mentality in communities from Omaha to Mitchell.  It’s a common thread that unites us no matter what our background, demographic, profession or community.  And it’s a message Hope Isabella McCoy hopes she’ll get to deliver in person as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

“My goal in general is to go to Children’s Miracle Network, talk to all of the children and get their stories,” said Hope.  “I would love to sit there and make them laugh and smile.  Also, just to help out with anything that I can around the state.”

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Click here to follow Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Hope McCoy on Facebook!

For more information about the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Program or for information about becoming a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook.  You can also email Director Kyla Ansley at kyla_ansley@hotmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place April 21-22 in Omaha, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on TwitterHERE to follow on Facebook. For more information about becoming a contestant, email Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Kearney 2017 Jessica Shultis

NEXT.. Miss Northwests’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Makenzie Davies

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!

NamaSLAY

I have a new best friend.  I look forward to the time we spend together everyday.  My husband knows about this new friend.. and encourages our relationship.

vytas

Meet Vytas.  Vytas is really good at yoga.  Vytas is helping ME get better at yoga.

Note: I’ve never met Vytas.  He lives in my computer.  Please halt all potential warnings to Vytus about his creepy ‘friend’ Brandi.

Like so many, I struggle with my weight and nutrition.  I lose weight, then I lose interest and lose control.  I’m an emotional eater.  Pretty sure my body is 99% coffee instead of water.  When I was 18, I could get away with eating Chex Mix and Mt. Dew for breakfast.  Now, a few trips through the Runza drive-thru and the only thing that fits are my husband’s sweats (and he gets grumpy when I steal them!)  But aside from how I look and my confidence, my health has started to suffer because of my less than ideal lifestyle.  I feel like I’ve been sick in some form since early November.. and just after Christmas, I contracted strep throat.  A trip to the ER, 2 rounds of antibiotics and a week in bed later, I promised myself I was going to start doing a better job taking care of the body God has given me.

I’ve been trying Beachbody on the advice of my friend and stunning beauty, Amanda Soltero.  One of her challenges to kick off 2017 included 3-Week Yoga Retreat with Vytus.  I tried it.. and became hooked.  I LOVE the way yoga makes me feel.  I love awakening the muscles I used to stretch in gymnastics as a kid.  I love realizing I can touch the floor with my hands, or now keep my legs straight in downward dog.  I love when I automatically sit up straighter at my desk because the practice has already improved my posture and carriage.  Most of all, I love the RETREAT that yoga has provided me.. a chance to breathe deeply and for 30 minutes a day dissolve all of the stress and burdens that have piled on throughout the other 23 hours.

For a young woman from Omaha, this is a message of health and wellbeing she’s understood for quite some time.. one she’s now taking to children across eastern Nebraska.

Miss Omaha 2017 Wellesley Michael

“I am currently a yoga teacher and went through children’s yoga teacher training this summer,” said Wellesley.  “Both of those experiences led me to mindfullness.  I then continued my training on mindfullness with [my platform] ‘Mindful Schools: Peace Begins With Me’.”

A platform that skyrocketed last fall when Wellesley was crowned Miss Omaha 2017.

“I’ve always admired the women that have been in the Miss Nebraska Organization,” Wellesley told me recently.  “Then, when I was old enough, I felt as if it was time for me to stand up and be a leader and role model like the women who have been in the system before have been for me.”

A title doesn’t make you a role model.  A crown doesn’t make you a leader.  But Wellesley used both of those tools to find new audiences in schools across Omaha.

Wellesley sharing yoga and mindfulness with students at Westside’s Oakdale Elementary and at Brownell Talbot, where she attended school!

“Mindfullness is the act of paying attention on purpose without judgement,” said Wellesley.  “I’ve spent a large part of my year so far going to schools and working with students on techniques to help them breathe, focus, listen and just feel good!  In a world that is so chaotic and go-go-go we have to find a way to slow down.  It’s healthy! Mindfulness brings that stillness we are often missing.”

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Wellesley is also a frequent visitor to Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, delivering blankets over the winter holiday and bringing in Valentine’s Day crafts for patients this week.  She’s also partnered with businesses like Yogurtini in Lincoln to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, the Miss America Organization’s community partner.

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“Three words to describe me are driven, organized and focused,” said Wellesley.  “Goal setting is one of my favorite things.  When I set a goal I dig in right away and figure out what it takes to get me to my dream.”

CLICK HERE to hear more from Wellesley during a guest appearance with Matt Tompkins on News Talk 1290!

These are the character traits Wellesley hopes stand out to both children and adults, attributes she credits in part to her participation in the Miss Nebraska Organization.

“This organization has helped me to clearly articulate my opinions and beliefs without fear,” said Wellesley.  “It has given me experience in skills I will always need such as interviewing and networking.  I go into a lot of situations with more confidence than ever because of this organization.  The fact that I get to even put on the Miss Omaha crown and sash and meet so many amazing people around my city is unreal to me.  The whole experience is a dream come true.”

Wellesley is clear: her big goal is to become Miss Nebraska.  However, she is also mindful of the big picture.  Wellesley is a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student majoring in advertising/public relations and journalism and has authored her own fashion/pop culture blog for several years. CLICK HERE to check it out!

“Beyond the pageant world, I hope to one day combine my loves of journalism and yoga to work for a wellness magazine or website like The Yoga Journal or mindful.org,” said Wellesley.  “At the state pageant, my plan is just to do my best and get people thinking about mindfulness and all of its benefits.”

Wellesley and her fellow titleholders will be the first to tell you, just as yoga isn’t just ‘stretching’, competing for Miss Nebraska isn’t just slapping on makeup and waving your hand in parades.  They spend  hours in the gym every week.  They dedicate countless hours to people and causes they care deeply about.  They study, they work hard, they plan.  But at the end of each day, Wellesley also remembers to breathe deeply and to reflect.

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“Here’s a mindfulness tip before I go.  I do this everyday,” said Wellesley.  “Take five minutes, mute your phone and listen to your breath.  Maybe you say ‘inhale, exhale’ with each breath or count how many times you breathe.  Thoughts will come up and that’s ok!  After five minutes sit for a minute and notice how you feel.”

On behalf of this blossoming yoga instructor, Namaste.  To you, Miss Omaha Wellesley Michael, NamaSLAY.

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Photo courtesy Michael Dar

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Omaha 2017 Wellesley Michael’s blog, Wellesley Lauren.  You can also CLICK HERE to follow her on Facebook, or CLICK HERE to follow her on Twitter.  To contact Wellesley for appearances and speaking events, email wellesleymich@gmail.com.

For more information about the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County Pageant or to become a contestant CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook, and CLICK HERE to follow on Twitter. You can also email missomahapageant@yahoo.com, or contact Director Marianne Grubaugh at ggrubaugh@cox.net.

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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 Omaha’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Katie Harris

NEXT.. Miss Sarpy County’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Phoenix Stanford

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III

This is my 3rd season for Throwback Thursday.

Nebraska’s first game of 2016 is on September 3.

The first Husker to take a trip with me down memory lane this year.. a player known to many as simply RK3.

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#12 Ron Kellogg III, Class of 2013

The Rule of 3’s is certainly at play here, but it’s not the only factor contributing to my choice to kick off this years series.  Ron Kellogg III is also a proud Westside Warrior, an alum of the school district I now proudly represent as Director of Communications & Engagement.  These first few weeks in my new role have been an absolute pleasure; I am BLOWN AWAY by the level of devotion and innovation this District has for the thousands of young people who learn here everyday.  To share these stories on a daily basis is truly an honor.

For Kellogg, his time as a prized student athlete at Westside had a huge impact on his trajectory into Nebraska Football history, a journey that began several years before he started high school.

“I have a picture of myself on Halloween in a #12 Nebraska uniform, so I guess you could say it was fate I would be a part of the Husker program,” Kellogg told me recently.  “The main reason I went to Nebraska is all because of Eric Crouch.  He signed a picture I drew for him and he wrote me a message saying Go Big Red, shook my hand and took a picture.  I waited 2 hours and 30 minutes to get that 2-minute encounter.  Thanks, Eric! LOL.”

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At Westside, Kellogg was the star quarterback who led his team to state playoffs his senior year, passing for 12 touchdowns.  The Lincoln Journal Star gave him Class A All-State honors, and several colleges including Northwest Missouri State and North Dakota offered him scholarships.  Kellogg wanted to stay red.

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Kellogg, surrounded by his parents, signing his letter of intent to play football for Nebraska

“D1 schools did not recruit me heavily.  I was actually only offered a walk-on spot because I won a quarterback camp at Nebraska,” said Kellogg.  “When I was given my opportunity to play, I knew from that point on, I needed to show everyone #1: that walk-ons can play, #2: that every time I put on that helmet representing this great state I would be an example for those young men watching in the stands or at home that with heart, determination, and a pinch of humbleness you can compete with the best of them.”

And he did.  After waiting patiently for three seasons, Kellogg finally saw playing time in several games his junior year.  His senior year, 2013, everything changed when 4-year starter Taylor Martinez suffered a foot injury.  Kellogg completed 4-of-5 passes against Southern Miss.  He completed another 8-of-9 passes against SDSU.  Game after game he was consistent and strong.. but when Nebraska played Northwestern, he became legend.

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

Kellogg threw a 49-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to then redshirt freshman Jordan Westerkamp, the first game-winning Hail Mary TD in Nebraska history.

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

“My favorite moments are talking with fans about that night,” said Kellogg.  “Apparently I am the reason A) they had to buy a new TV and B) I caused a couple to go the hospital due to heart attacks.”

Believe it or not, that game is not Kellogg’s standout memory when he looks back at his time at Nebraska.

“My favorite moment was the Penn State game,” said Kellogg.  “It started to snow.  It was picture perfect to be in that historic stadium, the fans in all-white, and then snow started to fall.  Plus we won in overtime.”

For years, Ron Kellogg had been the guy in the background while Husker nation focused its attention on other players.  Suddenly, he was THE guy, the big fish swimming in a Sea of Red.

“It was definitely an eye opening experience,” said Kellogg.  “No one prepares you to be in situations where everyone from the elderly to toddlers, know EVERYTHING about you, from knowing all about my family to what classes I was taking.  You have to be mentally prepared for that, and most importantly, you have to be careful.  Fame and power can swallow a sane person whole.  But, that fame part is something I will never get over, not because it’s cool to take pictures with people or talk about ‘what is was like to throw the hail mary’; it’s much more than that.  My senior year of playing Nebraska football was the best time of my life.  I was able to impact and reach people that I never thought I could prior.”

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Photo courtesy Stephen Rickerl for the Fremont Tribune

Kellogg won the Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award in 2012, was on the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team in 2012 and 2013, and the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2014.

“There is nothing I love more than talking Husker football with people,” said Kellogg.  “Especially the kids.  If my words inspire them to be a Husker I know my job is done.”

Ironically, guiding young athletes IS now Kellogg’s job; he’s the Athletic Director at Dawes Middle School in Lincoln, currently in his second year.

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Photo courtesy Gwyneth Roberts for the Lincoln Journal Star

“I am a part of these students’ lives from athletics to academics and social life,” said Kellogg.  “It’s honestly the most interesting thing in the world seeing these young boys and girls grow up and mature.  The crazy part is sitting back at the end of a school year and being able to say to yourself and your team of staff that you were a part of helping these children go on to the next level.  I love every moment of it because I feel like I am making a difference one way or another.”

Kellogg will also be watching a few other students this fall… his Huskers, now led by an entirely different regime than he had during his days at Nebraska.  He offers his support for Coach Riley, and for wide receivers coach Keith Williams, recently arrested for DUI.

“I have faith he’ll straighten up and continue to be the dominant leader of the team,” said Kellogg.  “Look at what he does with his players and NFL players, and how he uses social media.  As a fan, you have to be excited about this.”

Kellogg is also excited to watch De’Mornay Pierson El, a guy he calls ‘explosive’, able to impact the game from special teams to offense.

“With that kind of weapon, not to mention the other five wideouts we have, and the mobility and absurd arm strength Tommy has, we can make some noise,” said Kellogg.

Speaking of noise.. Ron Kellogg isn’t ready to go quietly into the Nebraska night.  A proud ‘Westside Warrior for life!’ he wants to return to his alma mater someday to coach and teach, and maybe lead a new generation of nationally respected athletes.

“My dream job is to build a performance center,” said Kellogg.  “I want to be able to wake up everyday and say to myself, I am going to send this set amount of student athletes to compete in Division 1, D2 or D3 athletics.  I truly believe there are students athletes here [in Nebraska] that should be playing D1 sports and maybe they just need help or a little nudge in the right direction.”

It wasn’t so long ago, Ron Kellogg was that guy, the walk-on from Westside High School who became a Nebraska Football star.   In 2013, he was awarded the Tom Novak Award, described by Nebraska Athletics as “an honor which best exemplifies courage and determination despite all odds.”

“I had extra drive to show kids throughout the state of Nebraska, that ‘hey! You can do this!’  You don’t need any stars next to your name to make an impact,” said Kellogg.  “I guess you can say I am living proof that if you put your mind to something, you can accomplish it.”

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Many thanks to Ron for the interview.. and for his incomparable softball skills helping Team Benning dominate the 2015 Celebrity Softball game!

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Will To Succeed

Looking back at your life, what are your biggest accomplishments in your eyes?  Perhaps raising good children. Maybe setting new records in your field.  Possibly, experiencing things few others can say they’ve done.

I met a guy last week with a list of accomplishments a mile long.  Still, the theme I kept picking up on throughout our interview was how to impact OTHERS. Ironically, that self-awareness of how the rest of the world can be impacted by one person’s actions makes this one that much more inspiring…

forget the fact that Will Shields is a College Football Hall-of-Famer and recent NFL Hall-of-Fame inductee.

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

CLICK HERE TO WATCH KETV’S THROWBACK THURSDAY HUSKER FEATURE ON WILL SHIELDS!

Giving back, who knows when that lesson was instilled upon the young man born in Fort Riley, Kansas and raised in Lawton, Oklahoma.  Shields himself told me about a moment at Nebraska that greatly impacted him.

It was November 3, 1990, Senior Day at Memorial Stadium.  Shields was a sophomore, watching as his teammate Kenny Walker walked onto the field.

“It was dead silence and we waved for him because he was deaf.  We honored him,” said Shields.  “I wonder what that would’ve felt like, being him at that point.”

Many of the 76,000 fans inside the stadium held their arms above their heads and rotated their hands, the American Sign Language symbol for applause.  The moment made national news, inspired a book, and Shields says, taught him parts of the game of football were bigger than anything else.

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics

By the time Shields was a senior, he was a dominant offensive lineman at Nebraska named a First Team All-American, a Lombardi Award semi-finalist and the 1992 Outland Trophy winner.  At the height of that college success, drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993, Shields and his wife also started the Will To Succeed Foundation to help abused and neglected women and children.

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Shields was out in the community, trying to be a positive influence and also make a tangible difference in countless lives.  According to the Will To Succeed Foundation website, the organization has created 12 different programs in the last 12 years to financially and emotionally support abused families.  100,000 people have been touched by the foundation since it’s inception.

Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields (68) celebrates during the Sept. 8 2002 away game against the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs won 40-39.

Photo courtesy the Kansas City Chiefs

On the field, Shields was a MACHINE.  #68 was a Pro Bowl player every year from 1995 to 2006, a Chiefs team record, also tying him with just two other players for the most Pro Bowls every played by one athlete.  SHIELDS NEVER MISSED A GAME in his entire career.  He started 231 STRAIGHT games, including playoff games.

This isn’t flag football.  Shields was PUMMELING huge guys for hours on end every, single, one of those games.  How does the human body, the human spirit, sustain that for 14 YEARS?!?

“They say I’m on the mental edge of being mental,” Shields laughs.  “I just loved the game, love the sport, loved my teammates and wanted to be there for them week in and week out.  It might have been one of those selfish things, I didn’t want anyone to play my spot.”

Aside from his charity work.. and his awe-inspiring career.. Shields is also a husband and father.

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Photo courtesy the Will To Succeed Foundation

He seems to be doing a pretty darn good job at home, too.  Their daughter, Sanayika, played basketball for Drury University.  Son, Shavon, is one of the stars of the Nebraska basketball program.  Their family owns and operates a gym and sports facility in Overland Park, Kansas.

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Photo courtesy the Will To Succeed Foundation

Looking back, Shields says he know he would play professional football if given the opportunity, but I asked him if he ever dreamed of accomplished such amazing things in his life. For his work on the field, he’s been inducted into both the College Football and the NFL Hall of Fame.  For his impact off the field, the NFL named Shields the league’s Man Of The Year in 2003.

“You know, I just envisioned what the next day would hold, to work hard for that next day,” Shields answered.  “I never really thought about what it looked liked.”

Now, he says, he will try to live up the billing of all of the guys who came before him.  A great message for the young men in Lincoln following in Will Shields’ footsteps, playing every Saturday under the retired #75 on the wall of Memorial Stadium.

“Still some work in progress, but we’ve got some guys that are out there fighting pretty good.  I think there’s some things we have to work on,” said Shields.  “You want them to do well, you always do because you’re forever counted as a Husker.”

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics; CLICK HERE to learn more about #75 Will Shields.

Click here to visit Will Shields’ official website.

Click here for more information about the Will To Succeed Foundation,

and click here to visit the foundation’s Facebook page.

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WEEK THREE.. CLASS OF 1971 JEFF KINNEY!

NEXT WEEK.. CLASS OF 1970 JERRY MURTAUGH!

For a full list of KETV’s Throwback Thursday Huskers, click on the Throwback Thursday index at the top of the page!