June 4, 2011
One week from today I will be crowning the next Miss Missouri on the stage at the Missouri Military Academy. In addition to this post, I have also already made my final appearance, my last trip to Mexico, my last airbrush tan, final visit to Cache for wardrobe, and the list goes on and on as I begin to finish out this amazing journey. It is definitely very bittersweet as I look back on the extraordinary year I have had full of once in a lifetime opportunities, however I am thrilled to begin embarking on the next chapter in my life and achieving those life-long dreams that I have been talking about so much throughout the year. There are so many people that have been instrumental in making this year so successful and I am so grateful for all of the people who have come into my life over the last few years.
While I get ready to enjoy these next seven days, I will fill you in on some of my latest adventures. I was lucky enough to be able to spend the day at Fort Leonard Wood for their Safety Day Fair, promoting good health and injury prevention on base. After a tour of the entire base by Chris Billadeau, I had the opportunity to speak to the troops and thank them for their service to our country each day. These men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice by fighting for our freedom, thank you for all that you do!
Then Chris and I headed over to the field house for the fair. While there I met with General Quantock and his wife, where I learned more about life as a military family and some of their personal experiences. We then headed over for lunch at Tony’s where we had conversations about the Miss America Organization and other topics. After lunch we went back to the fair and then I was invited to take part in their gun simulator. Wow, what an experience! It definitely opened my eyes and gave me an insight into what they do. Thank you to Chris Billadeau for hosting my visit and to all our military troops at home and abroad for their dedication and service.
I left Fort Leonard Wood and headed to Jefferson City. I was so excited to be in Jefferson City because one of my favorite miracles lives there and I had the chance to meet up with her twice while I was there! I know I’ve mentioned Margaret Romph several times in this blog, so I won’t go into details, but if you don’t know who she is, you should check out her video here! She is definitely and inspiration for me and so full of life. After meeting up with Margaret and her family I headed out to Jamestown where I gave the commencement address. What a neat opportunity! It was amazing being able to relate to these students and inspire them on their journey.
Then I went to Mountain Grove, MO where I judged the Miss Tri-Counties Fair Pageant. When we first arrived we were treated to a scrumptious dinner at Club 60. While we were there in walked Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen, Alexandria Black! I had no idea she would be here judging alongside of me! Then it was off to the pageant. I was invited to sing the National Anthem, which was a first for me, and it went well! The pageant was exciting and entertaining! Congratulations to all of the newest titleholders and good luck at the State Fair Pageant!
Yesterday, I had my final appearance before heading to Mexico for pageant week at The River City Rascals Game where I threw out the first pitch! This was my second time to do this and the weather cooperated much better this time, although we traded the rain for the heat and humidity. It was so fun to be surrounded by friends and family to finish out and celebrate a great year!
I’m already here in Mexico and can’t wait for the contestants to arrive tomorrow morning and then begin the week with the Miss Missouri Golf Tournament! Be sure to stay updated during the week by visiting the Miss Missouri Website, the Miss Missouri Facebook Page, and following ErikaMissMO on twitter!
With much love,
May 15, 2011
I didn’t get the chance to post any photos from the appearance Allie and I did in Washburn, MO for the Southwest Little Theater! Sorry to keep you waiting🙂
May 14, 2011
I was finally able to upload a video of my talent from the Miss Missouri Pageant in June. Better late than never! Enjoy!
May 14, 2011
That is exactly how I’ve felt as of late. These past four weeks have kept me super busy and on the road! Which is fine by me because I want to make the most out of this entire experience.
Since I last blogged, I returned to Immaculate Conception of Dardenne School in Dardenne Prairie where I read Abby’s Asthma and the Big Race to the second grade classes. I was back by popular demand after reading this book to the second graders last year at this school as Miss Gateway St. Louis. I chose this book to help educate elementary students more about my platform of Asthma Awareness Education.
Then I spent a few days in Hermitage, MO for the Miss Hickory County Pageant. This was the first year the pageant had taken place in a few years and was open to Junior and Senior students from the three high schools in Hickory County. Congratulations to Tiarra Wrightnour, the first runner-up and Katy Lovell the new Miss Hickory County! Not only did I get the opportunity to crown the winner of this pageant, but I also had the chance to visit Lucas Oil Speedway in nearby Wheatland, MO for their first race of the season! I had never been to race track, let alone a dirt race track, but I had a blast in the ninety degree heat! I even got to present the winner of the feature race his trophy!
Then I was off to Washburn, MO where I met up with Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen, Allie Black, for the Southwest Little Theater for the 2011 Angel Awards. While there Allie and I met the junior high and high school students of the Southwest R-V School District drama department, led by Mr. Wyatt Hester. I believe I was the eleventh Miss Missouri to host the awards ceremony and I had a wonderful time. The students performed monologues that were anonymously written by their classmates to collectively tell “Their Story.” In addition Allie performed her showstopping rendition of “I am Changing” and I performed a jazz dance to “Hit Me With a Hot Note.” Congratulations to all the members of the Southwest Little Theater group for a heartfelt show and for their hard work all year, and to Mr. Hester and the SLT patrons for inviting Allie and I to be a part of the event!
I then headed northeast to Branson to do a dance photo shoot and impromptu photo shoot with Allie courtesy of Marshall Meadows from Meadows Images. We were lucky enough to shoot at the Tri-Lakes Theater and all I have to say is wow! Marshall’s photography and lighting skills created some amazing and artistic images! They are absolutely phenomenal and really capture the beauty of dance.
I continued traveling through Southern Missouri, making a stop in West Plains where I spent the day at West Plains Elementary and High School. I began the day bright and early talking about my platform, Asthma Awareness Education, and reading Abby’s Asthma and the Big Race (a total of nine times) for all of the students and teachers in Kindergarten through second grade. I was so amazed at the level of discipline and respect they showed me and my tour guide, Kelby Czerwonka, who just happens to be Miss Osage River’s Outstanding Teen! We then headed over to West Plains High School where I spoke with the Gifted Education students about reaching your full potential and achieving your goals. For lunch, we headed over to a small cafe named Window on the Square. Thank you to the owners for providing Kelby and I with a yummy lunch! We visited with several people in the cafe, and took tons of photos. Then it was back to West Plains Elementary where I spoke assembly style to the 3rd and then 4th grade classes about my platform since May is Asthma Awareness Month and took questions from each class and the questions they come up with are impressive. After ending the school day with the fourth grade, I made the 40 minute drive north to Mountain View, MO where I would be speaking at the Liberty High School Senior Girls Send-Off Banquet put on by the Woman’s Chamber. The theme for the evening was “How will you wear your crown in life?” and I was the surprise guest speaker. I was there early mingling with the girls, but was not allowed to reveal my secret identity. It was not until I was introduced (or until the girls read their program) that they realized I was Miss Missouri. I spoke to them about the importance of following your dreams and making goals along the way and how making healthy and good decisions each and every day will allow you to achieve these goals. I also spoke to them about what I do as Miss Missouri and wearing their crown as a role-model and with confidence. I told them that the greatest piece of advice I could possibly give them, would be to surround yourself with positivity and encouragement on their journey through life. I really enjoyed this event. It is definitely a night that touched my heart and I can’t wait to see what some of these young ladies go on to accomplish! Good luck!
After a night at the Honeysuckle Inn, I met with the ladies of the Chamber for breakfast before heading off to Mountain View Middle School where I spoke at an assembly to all of the students that weren’t MAP Testing about my platform and also similar topics that I spoke on the previous night. Before I left town I stopped by a boutique in town, Rosie Tish. I need to back up in my story and tell you a little about Tish. I had the privilege of sitting next to Tish at dinner. I heard she worked with Britney (yes Britney Spears) and me being the performer I am asked if she was a singer. To my surprise she was not the one singing behind Britney, she was the one dressing Britney. So as I sat there at dinner hearing her stories about Adele and Alicia, all I could think about was how I had to go visit her boutique before I left. And fastforward…so there I am at the boutique and a grab a few things to try on and head into the dressing room. Where this killer silver beaded dress catches my eye. I look at the tag and it says “For Rent.” As I begin trying on clothes, Tish asks “What do you think about the silver dress in there?” and I replied about how it caught my attention and thought it was super cute. She said “Well try it on.” Naturally, I was not going to refuse. When I walked out she said do you think you would have use for it and I thought of the upcoming Miss Missouri Pageant and knew that it would be stellar on stage and she said well you are more than welcome to have it. I couldn’t believe the generosity! What an amazing dress and she was going to let me walk away with it? Come to find out, she used it in one of Alicia Key’s music videos on five dancers and she would rather see someone use one than have it sit on a hanger. I’m still shocked, but cannot wait to rock it sometime during Miss Missouri week and now you know the neat story behind the dress! Thanks Tish! I had a phenomenal time in Mountain View and made quite a few new friends while I was there!
Then I was off to Mexico, where I planning to record my farewell speech with the fabulous David Pickering and stay with the Yagers before heading to Rolla, but at dinner that night the smoke from the restaurant caused me to have an asthma attack which I was not able to get under control for several days. It was a rough Easter Weekend, but I was back up and running with the help of a few doctors, respiratory therapists, and nurses at Audrain Medical Center.
I was happy to be feeling better because St. Louis celebrated National Dance Week the last week of April and I was able to use my talents as a dancer to share with students across the area. I spent the week at studios across the area holding master classes in jazz, musical theater, and contemporary. I had a blast celebrating! Thanks to Julie Stewart of Troy Performing Arts Center for inviting me to teach and sparking the idea for several other appearances.
Just a few days ago I was back at the Missouri Military Academy in Mexico filming a commercial with the crew from Media Com, which will air the 2011 Miss Missouri Pageant! I was worried since I hadn’t seen the script until I got there, but thankfully I was able to memorize the parts I needed to quickly and we wrapped up the shoot in about two hours. Thank you to Linda and everyone who was a part of the filming process. I can’t wait to see the finished product!
I officially have less than a month left as Miss Missouri and it is definitely bittersweet. I feel like I have had so many opportunities to make an impact throughout the state. It has by far been a highlight if not the best year of my young life. Time really does fly when you are having fun…I’m just hoping these next few weeks don’t fly by too fast!
Miss Missouri 2010
April 4, 2011
As a former Gateway Girl I met Tim from Alive Video when he would record and take pictures at the Miss Gateway St. Louis Pageant. Alive Video also does the same for the Talent on Parade Dance Competition. As Miss Missouri I was invited to perform at the Talent on Parade Competition when it came to St. Charles, MO. It was a thrill to perform in front of hundreds of young dancers. I spent the afternoon talking and taking pictures with dancers from all over the area. It was also wonderful to reconnect with a former OCU Alum, Eva, who works and judges for Talent on Parade. Thank you to Talent on Parade for inviting me to perform and to Alive Video for arranging it and also giving me photos and a DVD of my performance!
Before I headed to perform, I spent the morning in Columbia at the Missouri Deer Classic. I was with the Missouri Fur Trappers who are a generous sponsor for the Miss Missouri Pageant. As the guests walked around from display to display most were surprised to see me there decked out with my rhinestone banner and crown. I was able to meet a lot of people from all over the state of Missouri. I signed many autographs and took pictures with nearly everyone who stopped by our table! Thank you to the Missouri Fur Trappers for your support of the Miss Missouri Pageant and inviting me out to spend the day with you!
Until next time,
March 14, 2011
Lately I have spent a large amount of my time at the local St. Louis television stations. Really I am nowhere near becoming famous or a television personality, but I have been having tons of fun promoting some great events that I have been able to be a part of.
March 1st was IHOP’s National Pancake Day. After emailing back and forth, I met up with IHOP Regional Marketing Manager, Liza Lathouris, the day before for some final planning and an appearance on Show Me St. Louis at KSDK Channel 5. Alongside Wendy Erikson, we gave tips on how to make “The Perfect Pancake.”
Twelve hours later, I was up and ready for the big day! Children’s Miracle Network is the national platform of the Miss America Organization, and the local, state, and national title holders all serve as ambassadors, raising funds and awareness for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country. IHOP is a corporate sponsor of CMN, and on National Pancake Day, customers can receive a free stack of pancakes for a voluntary donation to CMN. I began the morning at the IHOP in Clayton and met with marketing from IHOP and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of Greater St. Louis. At about 5:30 I had the privilege of meeting James, the new Children’s Miracle Network Ambassador for 2011 from Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. James has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for a little over 2 years now for his cancer. His smile and positivity was so contagious, even at that early hour! He was accompanied by his mother and younger brother. They were all so wonderful and we had a blast together filming segments on KSDK (NBC) with Heidi Glaus and for and Fox 2 KTVI.
Then Liza and I headed to Fox 2 for a pancake stacking competition with Tim Ezell. Liza acted as the referee and explained the rules and regulations of the game prior to being on camera. According to the official rules, you are trying to stack as many pancakes, one on top of the other, without shingling the cakes. At the ten second warning each participant has to top off his/her stack with whip cream and a cherry. If the stack falls over, only those remaining will be counted. Although this was my first pancake stacking competition, I had good feelings as I had been making pancakes and eating them all morning! Click here to watch the action unfold and find out who the big winner was😉
IHOP’s National Pancake Day $2.5 million dollars nationally and we raised over $20,000 here in St. Louis! Thanks to everyone for supporting Children’s Miracle Network of Greater St. Louis, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital!
Little did I know that one week later, I would be back at the same two stations helping to promote “Dancing Through the Decades” an event to celebrate 99 years of Girl Scouts with the Girl Scouts of Greater St. Louis. I was accompanied on the news with Local Pageant Director, Mary Ann Owens, and some Girl Scouts from a few local troops! The free event which took place on Friday March 12, would feature dances from different decades taught by some local celebrities. I was lucky enough to be invited and opted to teach some disco dancing complete with bell bottoms. THe Rams Cheerleaders, Cardinals Fredbird Girls, Miss Metro St. Louis, Darbi Fuhrman, and Miss Metro St. Louis OT, Shelby Steingraeber joined in for the dancing fun. I had a blast dancing with about 3,500 girl scouts and their parents! I felt in my element as I love teaching dance! What a thrill! I also met with, took pictures, and signed autographs on pictures, cups, t-shirts, hands, foreheads, shoes, cell phone cases, and basically anything the girls could find! Definitely a fun and memorable night!
More blogging from events and pictures to come!
March 13, 2011
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it yet, but I am so happy to be back in Missouri after Miss America! There have been so many amazing events that I have been able to be a part of! One of these events was with the St. Louis Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. I have spent many hours volunteering for the organization, speaking at various events and health fairs across the city and I was invited as a special guest at their Orchid Affair. The orchid is the symbol of the ball because it is one of the flowers to which no one is allergic. AAFA’s Orchid Affair is a premiere event founded in 1991 by a group of concerned volunteers including the late Whitney and Jane Freund Harris. The evening began at the Chase Park Plaza in the Central West End with a cocktail hour and a silent auction. It was then followed by a sit-down dinner with live auction and entertainment. I was fortunate to be placed at a table with some of my favorite people that I spent the day with on the “Asthma Bus” (Heathy Kids Express) from St. Louis Children’s Hospital. We enjoyed each others company, conversations, and great food! It was an extremely successful event this year raising money to help raise awareness for the disease and directly help children and their families that are affected. Thank you to the fabulous sponsors, auction donors, committee members, volunteers, and guests who came out and supported the great cause!
February 26th was a very special evening! In 2008 I held the local title of Miss Tulsa County while I was going to school at OCU. The following year, the Miss Tulsa County title ceased to exist. In 2009 I held the local title of Miss Mid-Missouri and would have never guessed that in 2010 there would be no Miss Mid-Missouri. Do you see a trend beginning to establish? I officially broke the streak by crowning the next Miss Gateway St. Louis last October, however at Miss America I was informed that the Miss Tulsa County Pageant would be making a comeback this year, and was so thrilled when I found out that the tradition of Miss Mid-Missouri would also be returning! Unfortunately, as I found out, both pageants would take place on the same evening. I have had Miss Mid-MO on my calendar of events since day one and I was so excited to be back in Waynesville! It was such an eventful weekend full of rehearsals, interviews, a Little Miss Pageant, and then of course the Outstanding Teen and Miss Pageants! I had so much fun performing, choreographing the opening number, and hanging out with all of the contestants throughout the weekend, especially those Little Miss Contestants. Congratulations to the new Miss Mid-Missouri: Kari Gai, Miss Tri-Counties: Lauren Alumbaugh, Miss Southern Central: Seanica Reineke and Miss Pulaski Outstanding Teen: Samantha Caraway. Simultaneously the new Miss Tulsa County 2011, Ashley Wheeler, was being crowned just a few hundred miles west on I-44! What an exciting night!
March 13, 2011
Following tradition, I was invited to be a guest of honor at the Missouri Military Academy Valentine Ball Dinner and Dance on the weekend before Valentine’s Day. Each year, the Junior Class hosts the Ball and I was honored to be escorted for the entire evening by Andrew Chow, Junior Class President. After being presented with a rose wrist corsage, we dined with General Flanagan and his wife, and then we participated in the Grand March. The court was then presented and I was able to crown the Queen. We then danced the night away, and might I add that Andrew is quite the dancer. I had to ask General Flannigan if that was in the prerequisites for becoming class president! I had such a fun night!
March 2, 2011
In talking with several former Miss Missouri titleholders they all agreed that one of the most fun memories of the year was emceeing the Mr. EHS Pageant and I would definitely have to agree with them! This event is quite a tradition at Eureka High School. Each year the event is sponsored by the Student Council. Junior and Senior boys are chosen to represent each club and sport by the teachers and staff. This year there were twenty four young men vying for the title. They all competed in four categories of club wear, talent, karaoke, and formal wear. Then the top six were named and they went on to compete in the final onstage question.
The students told me that this is by far one of the most popular events at the school. As soon as the tickets go on sale, students have to run to get in line and buy the tickets, it sells out within five minutes! All proceeds from ticket and raffle sales at the event goes to charity. This year, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was chosen as the recipient of the $5,000 to $6,000 raised. Make-A-Wish is a national organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical illnesses.
The contestants were having fun and interacted with me throughout the show. I don’t think I ever stopped laughing! Congratulations to Mr. National Honors Society, Brock Scoville who is the new Mr. EHS! Thanks for inviting me to be a part of such a neat event that has been helping to raise money for various charities in the community for over 15 years!
Here is the link to a news article on Mr. EHS and even includes some photos and videos of the event!
February 3, 2011
After months of preparation, I could not wait to get to the airport! Thanks to Tara and her mother, my suitcases had been packed since Monday. I didn’t ever think Thursday morning would ever arrive, but finally my alarm went off at 2 am so that I could catch my flight to Las Vegas!
My parents came to see me off at the airport and thanks to Southwest Airlines at Lambert St. Louis International Airport for allowing all four of my checked suitcases to fly for free! After the longest flight of my life, I was in a Planet Hollywood Hummer with Miss Indiana ready to embark on the most amazing experience of my life!
Our first official appearance was at the arrival ceremony where each Miss America contestant was introduced to the public and we were able to say a few words and received a rose from none other than Boyz to Men! With a chill in the air and the sun setting it was time for all of us to hop aboard our buses and head over to DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) to film a commercial for the launch of the new Miss America Shoe Line! By the time contestant orientation was finished it was nearly 11 pm in Vegas, 1 am in Missouri and I had officially been up for 23 hours. Time for bed!
The next morning my alarm went off before 5 am as we had an Media event with IHOP for our Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals partnership! That seemed to be the trend for the remainder of the week, stay up late and get up early. Thank goodness for coffee. The remainder of the week was filled with many appearances and events including, a Barry Manilow Concert, dinner at Buca di Beppo and PF Changs, filming for Planet Hollywood and Cesar’s Palace, walking the runway at Fashion Show Mall, and visiting the Eiffel Tower. Not to mention the hours upon hours we spent in rehearsal learning walking patterns and choreography. Through this time we formed friendships that will last a lifetime!
Even though I was at Miss America, it seemed completely normal. I was so calm and relaxed. I knew that I had worked so hard and was the best Erika Hebron I could possibly be at that moment in time, that all I had to do was enjoy every experience. Once preliminary competitions began, the rest of the journey went into fast forward. After each night of competition we were able to spend time with friends and family at visitation. It was so nice to see everyone, even if only for a few minutes! I couldn’t happier to be blessed with such a supportive group!
To every single person who sent cards, emails, texts, and gifts of encouragement and support at my send-off party, to my room in Vegas, and when I returned home – thank you for your overwhelming support.
Even though I did not win the Miss America crown or advance to the top 15 , I have learned so much in preparation and while at Miss America that I left as a better person. I had no regrets or anything that I would have changed. I left everything out on the stage and the interview room. Knowing that I did my best is more than winning the crown. As Miss Tracy would say, I was the shiniest, juiciest Fuji apple I could be, but the judges preferred Golden Delicious that day. I am so proud to have had the opportunity to represent the state of Missouri and I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you.
I have already hit the ground running here in Missouri and am ready to make the most of these next few months! I truly am blessed!