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GUEST BLOG: From My Heart - A Teen in Action

Hello everyone!! I just finished up my last year at the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen pageant and would love to share a few amazing highlights of the week with you. It all started with Arrival Day at the Arkansas State Capitol where all the Teen and Miss titleholders representing their communities from all across the state are announced and have an opportunity to greet friends and family as they gathered around the rotunda. It was that day that an exciting announcement was made.

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As I was lining up getting ready for introductions, I found out that out of 37 teen titleholders, I had been selected as a top 5 finalist for the prestigious “Teens in Action” award. All year long, I have desired this award more than any other. It is given to the contestant that has shown a true heart for service by doing the most work and making the most significant impact through her personal platform.

As you probably know by now, my personal platform is “A Better H.E.A.R.T. For A Better Life” and the purpose behind it is simply to reduce the number of people who lose their lives to heart disease. My Pap’s struggle with heart disease inspired me to make a difference in the lives of others by educating and encouraging them by helping them understand more about prevention and detection of this disease that continues to be the number one killer of American men and women.

After the top 5 announcement, I learned that I would have an interview later in the week to expand on why my platform was important to me and share a little about the impact I’ve been able to make. That interview would determine the winner. It wasn’t until the final night of competition that I heard my name called as the winner of the “Teens in Action” award. I think my heart actually skipped a beat as I almost ran (in my evening gown) to claim that honor. I was truly blessed throughout the competition to make new friends, have the opportunity to encourage others, and perform each night at the beautiful Robinson Auditorium. I even walked away with a few other awards that week including Top 15 Finalist, Preliminary Evening Gown and On-stage Question award, and the Leading by Example award.

I’m so thankful that all week long, the “Teens in Action” interview and award opportunity were on my mind as it provided such great perspective for me while competing within the Miss America organization. As much as I enjoy wearing a crown, learning and perfecting a talent routine, and preparing for interviews and onstage questions, what I love and value the most is service and making a difference in my community.

What a blessing it has been in my life to be able to partner with the American Heart Association over the last couple of years. They have helped me to make a real difference in the heart health of Arkansans. Here is a little recap on the work I have done throughout my journey with the AHA. I was fortunate to get plugged into the AHA through the Sweetheart Program in 2017. Through this program, I was able to realize the role of AHA and that it places a significant importance on youth advocacy.

Then, I had the privilege of getting to know Allison Hogue. As the Grassroots Director, she not only recognized my passion for making a difference but she saw great potential. She immediately made me realize that even though I am so young, I am still capable of amazing things. Through her guidance and support, I was able to do multiple Twitter Takeovers. I took my first business trip to Oklahoma City for the Sweetheart Lobby Day and spoke to girls about what they can do after the Sweetheart Program.

I attended the Go Red for Women Survivor Unveiling and the Arkansas Heart Walk. Also, I was blessed to be a part of Jump Rope for Heart with Kelly Lamb. I attempted to jump rope with a crown on my head, and it did not work out so well. But we were able to teach the children the importance of physical activity to children. I read to multiple classrooms a book called Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good For You! This story talked about eating and doing things that are making your body healthy.

I was also able to speak to many groups including the Central Arkansas American Heart Association Board of Directors, the Junior League of Little Rock, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and BancorpSouth. I raised money for the AHA through my partners and friends at Belle & Blush as well as through donating my personal pottery creations to the Heart Ball auction. 

I have the privilege to write as a monthly guest blogger for the AHA that is shared in multiple states. I was recently honored with the inaugural Arkansas Youth Advocate of the Year Award for the AHA at the Go Red For Women Luncheon. My year with a crown on my head as Miss Metro’s Outstanding Teen has been amazing, but my work doesn’t stop when the crown and sash come off.

I’m extremely excited to see what the months and years ahead will hold for my continued volunteer efforts to improve the heart health of all those I meet along the way.  I can not thank the AHA enough for blessing me with the opportunities that I have been given as a youth advocate. I want to let my peers know that there is a place for your voice and passion serving your community. Find a non-profit that means something to you and the experiences you gain will be immeasurable. 

I want to challenge each and every one of you to get involved with the American Heart Association today! There is a volunteer opportunity just right for everyone and Allison Hogue would be happy to help you find a place where you can make a difference. Just email her at Allison.Hogue@heart.org. Also, add your voice and become an AHA advocate today by texting ABBY to 46839 or visit yourethecure.org/join. We need YOU in the fight to create a heart-healthy Arkansas!

Until next time,

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