Tag Archive | miss eastern nebraska

Miracle Worker

You advocate for something because you believe in it.  You put your face and name behind a cause to share a compelling argument for why you are so passionate about that effort.  It takes courage to speak out (especially from a personal place); it takes time and dedication; it takes a leader who can command attention and compel others to make a difference.

This is one of the reasons I advocate for the Miss America Organization.. because no matter what you think of beauty pageants, or women competing for crowns, when that ONE DAY of competition is over, they are out in their communities and states 364 OTHER days of the year trying to do all of the things I just mentioned, in most cases, serving others.

This young woman will continue to promote her platform after her pageant days are over; she wants her cause to become her career.



(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“I will be a junior at Creighton University, studying Elementary Education, with the career ambition of becoming a child life specialist in a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital,” Alyssa told me recently.  “Truly, Children’s Miracle Network is my passion, and my platform, ‘Making Miracles Happen’, stands to improve the lives of children in hospitals all over Nebraska.”


Several of this year’s Miss Nebraska contestants, including Alyssa and Miss Nebraska 2014 Megan Swanson, delivered gift bags to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Rainbow House pediatric patients and their families for Miss America Serves day.

Children’s Miracle Network is also Miss America’s community partner, the organization which titleholders all over the country must raise money for in order to compete at the local and state level.  Money raised benefits hospitals like Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.  Many of this year’s Miss Nebraska contestants have spent time volunteering at Children’s; Alyssa visits on a consistent basis, inspired by her cousin and former CMN patient, Shayna.


“Eight years ago my family (after a streak of 12 boy cousins) was finally blessed with a girl!  However, Shayna was sick with a frightening virus that left her sick and in the hospital for days after her birth,” said Alyssa.  “18 months later, she tested positive for profound hearing loss.  My family was devastated, however, with the help of St. Louis Children’s Hospital (a CMN facility), Shayna was able to receive cochlear implants that allow her to hear as a normal child.”


Alyssa witnessed part of that journey in person, staying with Shayna and her family for two months while Shayna attended the Central Institute for the Deaf.  Alyssa had already been involved with CMN fundraisers as a young girl, at her sister Devin Howell’s side during her time as Miss River City 2008, Miss Douglas County 2009 and Miss Omaha 2010.


When Alyssa was crowned Miss Eastern Nebraska 2014, (click here to see read my interview with her last Spring!) she wanted to take her passion for CMN hospitals and the children they serve to another level.  Alyssa designed and implemented something she calls the Miracle Bags Program.

11185497_10203960011507324_138676031_n (1) 10502351_964810056876057_7371813551895995582_n 11186409_10203960023387621_976303312_n

“I go to sororities [including her own, Pi Beta Phi], business groups, girl scouts and schools and collect donation items.  Each bag [I create] contains a blanket, coloring book, crayons, Play-Doh, and a handwritten card,” said Alyssa.  “I then deliver these bags to the patients at Omaha Children’s, and let me tell you, nothing makes a sick child light up like a princess with a bag of goodies!”

11208899_10203960011547325_388184089_n 11198777_10203960023427622_1560101287_n 11195398_10203960011627327_266263781_n

To Alyssa, the Miss America Organization presented opportunities for both volunteering and for her own personal growth.  It’s a stage for this pianist (and piano teacher) to play for a crowd; it’s a path to scholarships for this college student; it’s a platform for her to share Shayna’s story and encourage others to help pediatric hospital patients.

11198731_10203960023307619_534993391_n (1)

“I truly believe that EVERY woman can gain so many incredible things from this organization, and Miss Nebraska stands to represent every woman in the state regardless of career, beliefs, appearance or education,” said Alyssa.  “As the All-American daughter of a former Marine and the 1981 Miss Iowa Dairy Princess, my upbringing led me to big dreams, big accomplishments and making big differences in the lives of everyone I meet.”

Alyssa Howell isn’t just an advocate for Miss America or for Children’s Miracle Network, she shows what strong, smart, talented women can accomplish when inspired by something as powerful as a little girl’s smile.  Just a guess, but I’m betting the feeling is mutual, and that Shayna’s grin will light up the entire North Platte High Auditorium in just three weeks.. as her princess, Miss Douglas County, competes to become the next Miss Nebraska.


(Photo courtesy Studio FBJ)

To find out more about Miss Douglas County 2015 Alyssa Howell’s Miracle Bags Program, and to contact her for appearances and events, email alyssahowellva@gmail.com or click here to visit her Facebook page.

For more information on the Miss Omaha/Douglas County Pageant, click here to visit their website, here to visit them on Facebook, and here to follow on Twitter.

For information on becoming a future contestant, contact Executive Director Marianne Grubaugh at 402-330-8033 or by email at missomahapageant@yahoo.com.


The Miss Nebraska Pageant will take place June 3-6, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website, to visit the pageant on Facebook, to follow the pageant on Twitter, and to follow the pageant on Instagram.


PREVIOUS.. Miss Heartland 2015 Steffani Jiroux

NEXT.. Miss State Fair 2015 Marie Allison

To read more about the Miss Nebraska Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

The Kid Whisperer

The Kid Whisperer… wow, that sounds like an AWESOME reality show.

‘You’ve seen the Dog Whisperer.. You loved SuperNanny… now meet, THE KID WHISPERER!  SHHHHHH!!!!’

I’d DVR that.

Here’s the show’s premise: a beautiful young lady who makes miracles happen through her love of working with and being around children.  Her name?


Miss Eastern Nebraska, Alyssa Howell

(Thanks to Deyo’s Photography for use of Alyssa’s photo!)

Children are Alyssa’s focus during her year as Miss Eastern Nebraska and they are her future; the Creighton University student plans to become a Child Life Specialist for the Children’s Miracle Network, working in facilities helping patients and families navigate the challenges of childhood illnesses and hospitalization.

“When I made my first onsite visit to a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital at age 15, I knew that was where I could make the largest and most meaningful impact,” said Alyssa in a recent interview.  “Ever since, I have been working towards raising awareness, fundraising, but most importantly, interacting with patients to make their days a little brighter.”


“My family and friends call me the Kid Whisperer!” said Alyssa.


Children’s Miracle Network is Miss America’s community partner, so it made perfect sense to Alyssa to tie in her passion with competing for Miss Nebraska.

“The Miss America Organization is one of the most outstanding programs for young women in the world,” said Alyssa.  “It is the place where I feel I can do the most for my community through the emphasis of service, learn and grow as a person, and most of all, have fun while meeting new people and enhancing my interview and performance skills!  Young women are valued and rewarded in this organization for excelling as leaders in education, service, the arts and living healthy lives – that’s important to me.”


Alyssa also respects the tradition involved with the Miss America Organization, even the more controversial aspects, like Lifestyle and Fitness.  Alyssa notes the entire system started as a swimsuit competition in Atlantic City in 1921.

“The swimsuit competition is such a rich part of Miss America’s history and should be embraced,” said Alyssa.  “Aside from that, swimsuit is a great way to encourage proper nutrition, fitness and self-confidence.  Truly, the judges are looking for a healthy girl, one that has good muscle tone and body shape, not just a skinny girl.”

Alyssa goes as far to say most contestants have fun strutting their stuff!  Still, she says, Interview is her favorite aspect of the competition.

“It allows you to interact with the judges in a one-on-one environment,” said Alyssa.  “I love being able to tell my story, express why I am there and most of all, meet some pretty amazing people!”


No doubt some of her tiniest friends may come up in Alyssa’s interview.  She’ll be advocating for them right up until her trip to North Platte, even hosting an online fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network on Friday, May 9th.  From 5-8 pm, Alyssa hopes to raise $1000.  Find out more by heading to her event website.

Alyssa’s reality TV debut may have to wait.  After all, she’s already earned the title of Kid Whisperer.

Now she’s aiming for Miss Nebraska.


Connect with Miss Eastern Nebraska, Alyssa Howell

on her Facebook page devoted to her personal platform, ‘Making Miracles Happen’


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


PREVIOUS POST..  Miss Metro, Kimberly Brennan

NEXT POST.. Miss Alliance, Staci Craighead!