When I was twelve years old I began volunteering for The Arc of Sedgwick County at their YESS Program, a camp for kids with special needs. What was supposed to only be two weeks of service became a summer of a lifetime. I met incredible kids that had the same interests as me. I began making friends and realizing that these kids were not very different from me after all. I was excited to wake up every morning at 6:45 so that I could be at the school by 7:40, to welcome the kids to the program each morning. I was just as excited as they were to see what we would do that day. Whether it was swimming, horseback riding, mud wrestling, or launching bottle rockets, I loved every second. I made bonds that can never be replaced. Those kids became my best friends.
I continued to volunteer for The Arc throughout the year and was even named "Young Volunteer of the Year" after serving over 1500 hours that year alone. I was truly loving every second of what I was doing and knew this would be something I would continue to do for a while. That next summer I was hired to be a recreational staff. I have given every summer to the YESS Program since then because I know the impact it has on my friends with special needs. I am a part of so many different programs and events with The Arc, and I love every single one of them. Now you will find me volunteering at the Circle of Friends SOC Walk, Tri-County Basketball League Arc Madness, Youth Activity Days, Celebrity Auction Fundraisers, and coordinating The Arc's Miss Unstoppable Pageant.
When I joined the Miss Kansas Organization and was told to create a platform, there was a never a question of what that platform would be. What I realized was that I have had a platform for years. Joining the organization didn't change what I was doing. I would still be volunteering at all of these events. That is how it should be. I have been serving for years, loving these individuals my entire life. To be asked to take action on an issue close to my heart was easy...I was already doing it. Miss Kansas is a woman that is truly passionate about what she stands for. Miss Kansas and Miss America need to be so truly invested in their platforms, that nobody can separate the two. As a title holder, I do not want to be known for my pretty gowns, talent, or swimsuit walk....I want to be known for my service. I want people to understand that I do not have a platform to be a part of the Miss Kansas Organization, I am part of the Miss Kansas Organization because I have a platform that needs to be talked about. I have a message that needs to be heard and I will not stop until that happens.
I'm Miss Kingman County 2016, and I have much more than a title year of service.