Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet Miss Minnesota 2015! By Alexis Adu-Bobi


 
          Wow! I am still in shock! There are no words to describe how blessed and honored I am to be your Miss Minnesota International 2015. I am excited to be representing the beautiful city of Duluth and the state of Minnesota this summer. I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity and I intend to enjoy and embrace every single moment of it!

 

A little bit about myself, my name is Alexis Adu-Bobi and I am currently a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth majoring in Biology with a Chemistry minor in hopes of becoming a Nurse Anesthetist. I have lived in Duluth for the past 4 years and it is a beautiful city full of amazing history and surrounded by Lake Superior. If you love to experience the outdoors then Duluth is the place to be! J

 

As I take time to reflect I am truly amazed at how much God has truly done for me. What we experience throughout life is what truly shapes us and makes us who we are today. My life has been one wild ride and God has been there blessing me, protecting me, and guiding me. I am thankful for amazing support from friends and family. Without them to make me laugh, and lift me up in times of need I wouldn’t the person that I am.

 

I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I am blessed to be apart of the International pageant family.  I am excited to for this year to be able to promote my platform No More which is about ending and preventing Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault against women and children. I am looking forward to sharing this amazing journey with you all! Here is to a wonderful year full of memories!

 

Miss Minnesota International 2015

Alexis Adu-Bobi

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"My Farewell: The Ending of a Perfect Year" Written by: Kimberly Stommes


 

This past year will always be one in which I look back on with a happy and satisfied heart. Hearing my name called as your Mrs. Minnesota International 2014 is a moment I will never forget. It was a moment that stood still in time, and yet opened a million doors at the same time. I was blessed to have been given a whole year to accomplish the goals that I had set before I even won the title. Spending a year making a difference in the lives of others and raising awareness for diabetes prevention and management was just a small sliver of my goals. I grew this year and became a greater advocate than I thought possible. The places I went and the people that I met touched my heart in ways that will stay with me forever.

 

I made over 45 appearances this year throughout Minnesota and 3 other states, while also balancing being a mother, a wife, President of the Sauk Rapids Riverside Lions Club, and working as an attorney who opened my own law firm this year. Only some of the highlights of my year include meeting Joe Mauer, volunteering with Project Bear Hugs and Camp Friendship, attending the state fair, bowling with the Highland Friendship Club, being the Master of Ceremonies at AccessAbility’s Rock-N-Roll-A-Thon, walking in fashion shows, donating school supplies, helping with health fairs and diabetic testing, volunteering at the American Diabetes Association’s Tour De Cure, donating school supplies, participating in the polar plunge for Special Olympics, touring the U of MN Diabetes Research center, and speaking about diabetes with numerous schools, senior homes, and International Lions Clubs. I had an absolute blast at each and every appearance, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing approximately 50 blogs this past year, allowing each and every one of you to come with me on my journey!

 

There are so many people to thank for helping me get to where I am and for making this journey a memorable one. My husband, Jeremy, has been an unconditional source of love, support, and encouragement. He made many sacrifices to make sure that Mrs. Minnesota was put first. I also took my daughter with to as many appearances as I could. It warms my heart when she tells me that she cannot decide which appearances she loved most; riding in the parades with me and my sister queen, Rachel Flynn, or packing meals with Feed My Starving Children. She sacrificed by sharing me this past year with everyone else because she understands how important it is to give what you can to others, even when that meant I could not always tuck her in bed at night.

 
 

Mr. and Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

 

I am forever thankful to the team that made this year possible for me. First and foremost, thank you to Cheri Kennedy. Cheri is more than a pageant coach, she became my good friend. She believed in me from the first moment we met and reminded of me who I am and who I want to be, and made my dream come true. She doesn’t coach people to be “fake: or what the judges are looking for, instead, she coaches women to learn who you are and to know how you can be the best titleholder you can be- and how to effectively convey that to the judges!

 


With the one and only, Cheri Kennedy

 
Thank you Donnell Rank for the many laughs and helping to improve me interview skills! Thank you to my mock-interview judges; Penny Wells and James Peterson for working their magic with my hair and makeup; Adam Spiker with SpikerFitness for making me feel and look my absolute best; Bessie’s Boutique and Sarah Moses for exceptional wardrobe and a perfect eye; Paula Preston for amazing photos and friendship; Charity Bess, Sarah Wall Beckman, Krista Wanous and Sarah Bazey for taking me under your wings and teaching me true sisterhood; Mr. and Mrs. Stavrakis for your dedication to me and this pageant all year long. Laura Werk/Lotsa Design Graphic Services for the amazing state, national, and out-going queen program book pages; Judy Wright for AMAZING hair and makeup at nationals; International Lions Clubs across the state for allowing me to speak to your clubs and raise awareness for Diabetes; thank you to last year’s pageant judges for seeing me for who I am and for changing my life forever; and thank you to my parents, siblings, and grandparents for your unconditional love and support.

 

 
 
With the amazingly talented Judy Wright

Special thank you to my number one fan, my Mom. Mom, you are my inspiration and I would not be where I am today without you! Thank you for being the best pageant mom ever, even to a 27 year old! Thanks for coming all the way to Florida to be in my cheering section! Thanks for watching Ava when she couldn’t come with to appearances, for coming with on several pageant-wardrobe shopping trips, helping me get to appearances, or coming with. I don’t know what I would do without you. I love you! 

 

To my sister queens: I am so honored to have spent this year with you. You all are so special to me and I will carry our memories in my heart forever.

 

If I missed you, please know that it was not intentional and I am so grateful to all of the people that have supported me this past year!

 

To the contestants: This year was filled with many precious moments that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I can tell you that whether your name is called as the new Mrs. Minnesota International 2015 or not, know that you are truly beautiful inside and out for being inspiring woman in your communities, making a difference in the lives of others. If it is not your name called, I encourage you to try again because I can promise you that I learned more about myself in the years that I did not capture a title, than in the years I did.

 

Congratulations to the newly crowed Mrs. Minnesota International 2015! You are in for the ride of a lifetime! Seize every opportunity, breathe in every moment, stay humble, and go forward and change lives!  

 

Thank you God! I have been beyond blessed to be part of the sisterhood and legacy, to have been given the opportunity to wear this crown and banner, and to have experienced the magic!

 

 
 

This is not goodbye; you will continue to see me doing great things.

 

 Who will be next to join the sisterhood?

 

 

Yours truly,

 

Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

 

 

 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Pre-Pageant Party" Written by: Kimberly Stommes




 2014 Minnesota International Queens at the Pre-Pageant Party

 
I absolutely love that this pageant system does a pre-pageant party and allows the contestants and titleholders many opportunities to get together prior to pageant weekend . This really allows the girls and women to get to know one another prior to pageant weekend, and learn about their respective platforms. I had such a wonderful evening!

 


 With some of the Mrs contestants that attended the pre-pageant party

 

It was also so much fun catching up with former titleholders and contestants! The beautiful thing about the International pageant system is truly the sisterhood. From the moment my name was announced as the new Mrs. Minnesota International 2014, I was welcomed with hugs, contact information, and gifts from former Mrs. Minnesota’s. It was my most favorite memory from my reign.

 


 

With Donnell Rank, Mrs. Minnesota International 2007. She has been so welcoming to me and even assisted me in preparation for Nationals. She is simply inspirational and a doll!

 

We also had a silent auction with the proceeds going to the “Queens Funds,” which is a fund to be split by the newly crowned queens for their national expenses. The contestants brought wonderful items and they were all big hits!

 

Speaking of the Queens Fund, make sure you take the time to vote for Prople’s Choice. Proceeds from this also go to this fund to assist the new 2015 queens with their expenses for nationals. To vote, copy and paste the links below:

 




 

 

Yours truly,

 
Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

 


Monday, March 2, 2015

A Girl's Best Friend by Gabby Taylor


"A dog is the only thing that loves you more than he loves himself"


Over the past years I have been blessed with the absolute best friend a girl could ever ask for. A friend who is always there for me, ways listens and one who genuinely cares for my well-being. You might ask who? The answer would be Cooper my three year old teddy bear dog.

 


Christmas Day three years ago on a bright and sunny morning the whole family piled into our car for a surprise. We were told that we were headed to Rochester, Minnesota to pick up wreaths and have hot apple cider. Bella and I should've known better. When we arrived, the jig was up. There was one special puppy waiting just for us. I had the chance to hold this little fluff ball. He was incredibly soft and his coat was brown and white. This puppy was the only one remaining from his entire litter. He fell right asleep in my arms he first time I held him. We were all so anxious and excited to take him to his new home!

 


Once as brought him home, the great name debate began. His original name was Bandit, however after discussing names we all decided that we wanted to name him Charlie. That lasted a total of ten minutes. We then came to an agreement that our puppies name would be Chester. Shortly after, you guessed it, we changed his name again. I'm not entirely sure as to how we came up with the name Cooper for our little guy, but that is what has been called ever since and I couldn't imagine him with any other name.

 

Cooper came into my life at a time where I needed companionship the most.

This was a time where I had some pretty severe medical challenges. Often times after week long hospitalizations, Cooper would be able to put a smile on my face. Dogs are so intuitive, Cooper always knows exactly what kind of company I am seeking, and never fails me. Going on walks, taking naps, watching Netflix, eating dinner, the list could go on for ages, no matter what I am doing he is always right there by my side. I can't imagine he day where he isn't around.

 


There are numerous days dedicated towards pet appreciation. However, I believe that "I love my pet day" should be everyday. Especially since their love for us is unwavering. Do me a favor today and show your pet some love.

I know I will!

 

Until next time,

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

Mexico by Gabby Taylor


Minnesota winters can be harsh; with brisk air, strong winds, snow and gloomy skies. Thankfully, I recently had the chance to spend a week away in much more favorable weather! It took a lot of preparation to get ready for this trip. Since I have never been out of the country before, I had to get a passport. I had a little too much fun shopping for swimsuits and sundresses for my trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

I woke up bright and early on the morning of our flight, I felt like kid waking up to go to Disney Land. Our flight took off at 9am, and it was a freezing cold morning. The flight took about three and a half hours total, but it definitely felt much longer as I was growing more and more excited every minute. It was amazing to see the cold snow covered ground as we took off, and then the bright blue ocean and lush greenery when our plane landed. It is crazy to think that in just a few hours you can travel to a different country!
Immediately when I got off the plane I could tell I wasn’t in Minnesota anymore. The warm humid air was a refreshing change to the winter weather I had just experienced hours earlier that morning. We flew into the Cancun airport and from there had an hour drive to get to Playa Del Carmen. It was fun to see all of the resorts and people on the drive down to our condo. I was eager to get unpacked once arriving at The Elements condominiums. Our first night was a fun opportunity to walk down Fifth Ave and really take it all in. We had dinner at a restaurant called Ula Gula, mostly all restaurants in Playa are outdoor open concepts and Ula Gula was no exception to this. I had the chicken fettuccini alfredo pasta, it was the most delicious pasta I have ever had. After having dinner, we continued to walk around and soak in all the live music and people. For a Tuesday evening, it felt so alive and very similar to a NYC the city that never sleeps atmosphere.  
 
For the days to come we had a routine establish itself. This consisted of waking up having breakfast, then heading straight for the beach. It was so nice to just lay out in the sun and not have a worry in the world. At about lunch time we would either go and eat in our condos, or head right next door to the Cannibal Royale. This restaurant had the most delicious fresh fish tacos, octopus, guacamole as well as refreshing drinks and music. After lunch was done, we would take a walk along the beach as a group. We would also take our portable speaker with us and have a dance party along the way. It was a fun way to get our daily exercise in, and I must say that my legs were sore after each and every day as the beach walk consisted of about 3 miles total. Add in dancing, and trudging through the heavy sand and you have a recipe for a wonderful workout!
 
 
Towards the end of our trip we went to the Coco Bongo Disco. This starts at 10pm and goes until 4am in the morning! When we walked into Coco Bongo I realized just how much preparation goes into each night they put on performances. The evening was full of music, dancing, acrobatics, and celebrity impersonations. I was amazed with how talented all of the performers were, I could tell years and years of practice went into them perfecting their craft. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me personally. Another fun thing that I had the chance to do was a catamaran excursion that took us to Isla Mujeres. We had the chance to snorkel; this was my first time ever snorkeling so I was definitely a little nervous but still excited. After getting all of the equipment on I had to jump off the boat and get started. I was able to see sting rays near the bottom of the ocean, scuba divers down near the reefs and of course many schools of fish! At our next stop during the catamaran tour I held a shark. I was amazed at how rough the shark’s skin felt, I was under the impression that the shark would have slippery skin but it was just the opposite. Similar to the snorkeling, holding the shark was a first for me (and may be a last as well)!
All in all this vacation was a complete blast. I look forward to the next time I can come back to Playa Del Carmen. I will always remember the food, the people, the beaches, the weather and all of the fun memories that were made. It is safe to say that I have been bit by the travel bug; I am already excited to get more use out of my passport. I’m not sure where I will head next but I am sure that wherever I go, I will immerse myself in the culture and enjoy every minute. Time flies when you’re having fun.
 
Until next time,
Gabby Taylor
Miss Minnesota International 2014

 



Home Free Concert by Gabby Taylor



I am so thankful to be a part of such a close knit group of women. The International Pageant sisterhood is a network of accomplished, beautiful, intelligent women. Often times, some of the best appearance opportunities come from within this sisterhood. A big thank you is due to Becky, Miss Minnesota International 2006, for the exciting event I had the chance to attend.

I was able to head down to Fairmont, Minnesota with my family for an especially unique event. Home Free, winners of the hit TV show “The Sing Off” were having a concert. Before the main event, I met with a group of local high school teens to share my personal story and platform of Sports Safety and Injury Prevention. They did a wonderful write-up, and also took some video footage.  After meeting with them, there was a round robin interview with a local radio show, newspaper and magazine. It is always amazing to be able to share something that you are so passionate about. After the interviews had finished it was time to head over to the Speedway for the races. This was an absolute blast, and I could tell that the speedway brought the community together in many ways. I hadn’t been to a Speedway for races in years, so this certainly was a real treat!
 
Before I knew it, the time had come and it was time for Home Free to perform. I had the honor of greeting the crowds of people in attendance. I was able to share the A Capella groups’ journey to fame as well as introduce each and every member of Home Free. After their introduction was complete, it finally came time for them to take the stage and perform. They are so talented; it was captivating watching them sing. It truly was the best concert I have ever attended, and they didn’t have any instruments aside from their voices. Despite the downpours of rain, everyone who attended was up on their feet dancing and singing along to each and every word. At the end of the day, rain or shine, the show goes on!
 

Until next time,
Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

21st Birthday! by Gabby Taylor



There are many monumental moments in an individual’s life. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, births, the list goes on and on. Recently, I had one of those moments; I celebrated my 21st birthday with some of the greatest company. My family rented out a space in downtown Stillwater so we could go all out for this exciting day! This birthday, along with all birthdays are extra special for one very good reason. When I was born, naturally a few short days later it was time to come home from the hospital. It just so happens that it was my mom’s birthday when I was ready to be taken home. My mom and I have since celebrated mostly all of our birthdays together! This birthday wouldn’t be an exception to that, we were ready to have a gathering for my 21st and my mom’s 25th birthday (she’s been turning 25 for the past few years, love you lots mom)!
It was such a fun night for all who attended. We had some of my favorite appetizers, music and dancing.  Many of our friends and family came; I was especially surprised when Kimberly and Jeremy showed up. I truly have the best sister queens a girl could ever ask for. I look forward to celebrating many more monumental moments to come with my family, friends and pageant sisters for years to come.
Until next time,
Gabby Taylor
Miss Minnesota International 2014


Sunday, March 1, 2015

"5 ways pageantry has enhanced my life " by Gabby Taylor



1. Pageants helped me come into my own skin as well as realize who I am.

Pageantry truly is a journey! Throughout my 4 years involved in the pageant community I have grown as a person substantially. I now know exactly who I am and who I want to be.

 

2. Pageantry taught me the importance of setting both short and long term goals. In life, it is absolutely necessary to have goals in order to achieve your biggest dreams.

 

3. Pageantry has taught me the importance of "failing forward". In pageants, and life it is impossible to always win. However, it is possible to "fail forward", or in other words take each loss and turn into a lesson to better yourself and move forward.

 

4. Pageantry has allowed me to diminish interview anxiety. I have learned how to communicate my thoughts both clearly and confidently when addressing people from all walks of life. This has been especially beneficial during job interviews, thanks to pageants I can proudly say that there is no question I cannot answer.

 

5. Pageantry has opened a door for to meet some of the most remarkable people. Many of these individuals have grown to become some of my best friends. It is crazy to think that if I never competed in the International pageant system I wouldn't have met a large percentage of my mentors, friends and "sisters".

 

Until next time,

 

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

"Advice to the Next Miss Minnesota International 2015 " By Gabby Taylor


 

I have come up with a list of advice for the next Miss Minnesota International. These are all things that I have picked up and learned over the past few years while holding titles in the MN Int’l pageant system.

§  Take too many pictures and just when you think you’ve taken enough, take a few more. These moments go by in the blink of an eye, pictures help preserve so many precious memories.

§  Never be afraid to wear heels to an appearance that requires you to be on your feet for extended periods of time. Always pack flats, and don’t be ashamed to put them to good use when you feel as if your feet might fall off!

§  Embrace every opportunity to attend an event or appearance. One year may seem like a long time, however it really isn’t and it flies by so incredibly fast. When you reign is coming to an end, you’ll want to look back and be confident that you made the biggest impact humanly possible.

§  Eating healthy is very important; however don’t be scared to order the hamburger and fries every now and then. Moderation is key.

§  Be unapologetically YOU throughout the entire experience. Like I said earlier, one year isn’t much time at all. It will however feel like an eternity if you are pretending to be somebody you’re not.

§  Get into a habit of continually educating yourself on your platform. In order to be the best advocate possible it is critical that you stay informed and updated.

§  At nationals, be sure to get a good night’s rest. It will be extremely tempting to stay up late to practice the opening number dance or talk to your teen queen about every little detail, but refrain from it. Every princess needs and deserves her beauty sleep.

§  Take every bit of advice that anyone and everyone has to give you. Tips, tricks and advice are like pure gold and equally as valuable. After all knowledge is power!

 

 

One last thing to remember…

 

 

Until next time,

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

"Taylor traditions " by Gabby Taylor


Every family has their unique traditions that grow stronger and more special as time passes. My family is no exception to this. While each family may do things a little differently, at the end of the day traditions bring a family together and provide countless opportunities for some pretty special memories to develop.

 
I have been visiting Lake Superior for my whole life. It has become a family tradition to visit and vacation in this beautiful area. There are a few stops that are absolutely necessary when my family heads up north.

Gooseberry Falls has some of the best and most scenic hiking trails. I have some fun memories of my siblings and I hiking as well as picking rocks on the trails. Betty's Pie shop has also turned into a Taylor tradition during our trips. With all of that hiking, we sure do work up an appetite. Betty's Pie is just the ticket to satisfy our stomachs and of course our taste buds!

 

There is another very special tradition my family has, as do countless other Minnesota families. The great Minnesota get together, the state fair! It is an event I have attended for as long as I can remember. The tradition begins with finding parking, we all know this can be the most tedious part of the state fair. Once inside those gates, it's time to have some delicious yet not so nutritious food. My family loves to try as many things as possible, so according to us sharing is caring and we share everything we buy.

Visiting all of the local news stations and radio booths is always a must for us. Speaking of the fair already has me looking forward to this summer!

 

Holidays are always very special and extremely family oriented. Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, no matter which holiday we are celebrating, we celebrate together. A holiday that was spent without a large number of family members present, is somewhat of a taboo. Until recently, this past Christmas. Due to schedule conflicts it was the first time that I can recall where I have ever spent a holiday alone. It was in that moment that I truly realized just how much I love and appreciate that holiday traditions my parents and grandparents have put into place. I can confidently say that I will never spend another holiday without my family by my side.

 
No matter what the tradition is; big or small, common or bizarre, what makes them so memorable is the people that surround you during those times. I look forward to implementing the traditions above in my own family someday, as well as many more. I am blessed to have a big family full of personalities, there is never a dull moment but I wouldn't have it any other way. The memories made from the traditions we carry out are some of the greatest, I look forward to many more memories moving forward.

 

Until next time,

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014