Friday, June 24, 2016

"And Your Miss Minnesota 2016 is.." by Sabrina Astar


My heart was pounding, my mind was racing, and my palms were sweaty while holding Miss North Oaks (Ellen Dahlquists) hand. I have never in my life felt so excited and nervous all at once, thinking over and over again how amazing it would feel to have them call out your name.

“And your Miss Minnesota International 2016 is… Miss Hastings Sabrina Astar!”


The first thing I did was just smile as largely as I can and freeze in place, not sure where to look and feeling like I'm on cloud 9. Looking at many of those pictures now I can see how silly I really did look in that moment that I was experiencing pure happiness. As I tried to gain my composure, I look up to the judges and thank them for giving me this blessing. Alexis then walks towards me to crown me and I squat down and just think for a brief second “ You are a very lucky girl, show the world that you deserve this.”


While walking my first walk as Miss Minnesota International 2016 I thought about how amazing all of the women I competed with are. Miss Eagan, Miss Minneapolis, Miss North Oaks, Miss Koochiching County and Miss Hutchinson were all such lovely women to compete with. Winning the Amity award was one of the best things about the entire weekend. To think that all the women I was lucky enough to compete with thought of me as a friend was just icing on the cake of an incredible weekend. To all of the women I got the pleasure to know,  I loved learning about your platforms, they were so inspiring and I wish you all the best of luck with all that your future holds.


In my last blog I wrote about the importance of my platform “Invest in Today's Youth” with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and how so many lives have been effected by this outstanding organization. I feel beyond blessed to be able to speak about my platform throughout my reign and I cannot wait to bring Big Brothers Big Sisters to the International stage in just over a month.


Winning your first pageant is a very odd and amazing thing. I felt so excited to be the owner of this title and wanted to show everyone that although I am young and new to pageantry I can make an impact. Although I talk about luck, this is not what made me win. I had an “out of this world” crew behind the scenes. Cheri Kennedy and Adam Spiker helped me to look and feel as though I could accomplish anything. My mock interview judges gave me the tools to be prepared for one on one and on stage interviews. My parents and siblings supported me, as they always have, to keep reaching for my goals. Friends were there day and night keeping me emotionally stable. In life you will do amazing things, but the people that help you get there are the real reason your life is amazing.


Next stop is Miss International at the end of July in Jacksonville! I feel ready to compete and excited to share my story with even more outstanding women!


With love and blessings,

Miss Minnesota International 2016 Sabrina Astar




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"And the new Mrs. Minnesota International is…" by Morgan Bredde

And the new Mrs. Minnesota International is…


As I anxiously awaited hearing the new queen’s name, I was able to take a few minutes and reflect on the last few months of preparation. With only a short time to get ready for the state pageant, I had given every ounce of myself so that I could be the best version of me that I could be.

Let me start by saying that my support system is unbeatable. From my husband driving the distance of 2 cross country trips and back just so I could make all of my appointments while he watched our newborn and one year-old sons, to my mother still playing the role of pageant mom effortlessly, to Cheri Kennedy, Adam Spiker, and Suzy Bootz preparing me mentally, physically, and emotionally for one of the biggest challenges of my life. I was dressed head to toe in confidence by the expertise of Sarah Moses of The Pageant Shop and even at the last minute when I needed to buy a new gown (yes, Adam Spiker Fitness is truly that good!), she never hesitated to make sure that I was ready for the stage. By far, the most incredible part of this journey was carrying the spirit of my families who have lost children or are currently losing their children. Through my platform and partnership with Crescent Cove—I knew that my God-given talents, passion and should I hear my name, title would be used for the ultimate purpose.




I collapsed. So much hard work had paid off, doubt had been erased, and dreams come true. I looked at my husband and could barely stand as the excitement of my accomplishment truly hit me. This year was about so much more than myself, and this title was so much more than a crown. Pediatric palliative care is one of—if not THE biggest blessing that could be offered to a family who is living a nightmare while actively losing their child. I carry the story of MILLIONS on my head and across my heart, and every time I place that crown upon my head, they are thought of, spoken of, and loved.

Being the youngest contestant in the pageant, and now the youngest Mrs. Minnesota, I often worried about my age to the point where I wondered if I should even compete. But once and for all, I would like to put this to rest. Dreams don’t come with an age requirement, nor limit. They don’t expire, nor do they only appear as time goes on. Your tenacity, will, passion, and hard work will outrank any superficial demographic about you. If anyone believed otherwise, allow me to serve as a reminder that you are wrong. I hope next year, that we will see women of all walks of life gracing the stage. Being Mrs. Minnesota means I represent all married women. Young, more experienced. Tall, short. Working, or staying at home with their children. I am forever thankful to the judges who believed that out of a group of such upstanding women, that I could stand as a representation for each of them and for our small, but powerful state of Minnesota.


So watch out, Jacksonville. Mrs. Minnesota is coming for you and she’s ready.


Promising the moon,

Morgan Bredde

Mrs. Minnesota International 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"On the evening of April 30th " by Kelly Brown

On the evening of April 30th, a beautiful, sparkly crown was carefully placed on top of my head. My eyes stared out into the crowd, finding my mother who thankfully got seats close enough for me to vividly see her smile as it almost reached her eyes. The weirdest thing was that it was almost as if my hearing had been impaired. All sounds became a muffle that was drowned out my racing heart as well as my bazillion thoughts! At this moment, I knew my life had taken a turn. This turn in the road would be one that would guide me out of my comfort zone; one that would push me to raise the bar a little more each and every day. I had achieved my goal for that night: becoming Miss Teen MN International 2016.

Flashing back to pageant weekend, the first thing that comes to my mind isn't the chaos, the last-minute preparation, or who was wearing what. The first thing, or should I say people, that I think of are those who shared this great experience with me. Coming into this industry has destroyed the negative stereotypes for me. It taught me that there will always be some bad apples in the bunch, just like there are in any category of anything. However, because of my experience here, I have never met such ambitious, impeccable, and passionate women. 


While we're talking about passion, I should get into how fun and great it was to hear about all of these ladies’ platforms. One’s platform is not something that is drawn out of a hat, but rather something that one is deeply passionate about; something close to the home, because home is where the heart is at. 


To begin talking about this weekend would take me so long. Overall, I am immensely grateful to have competed and been dealt such a great experience. The year has only just begun, and I am exhilarated to see what the future holds for my beautiful sister queens and me. 

Miss Teen Minnesota 2016
Kelly Brown

Monday, June 13, 2016

" “Start something big, become a mentor.” by Sabrina Astar

On October 29th 2012 my life was forever changed. I was only 15 years old when my big brother had passed away. Jordan was an inspiration in my life. He was the reason I attempted show choir in high school, the driving force behind my desire to try many different activities and always was helping me believe that I could be anyone I wanted to be. Jordan was the absolute best big brother any girl could ask for. It has taken me a lot of time to be comfortable talking about his death, but now I am finally at a point in my life where I know I can take this awful situation and turn it into something positive, by helping someone else lacking that type of support system. This is what eventually brought me to Big Brothers Big Sisters. 


            It was about 3 months after Jordan’s passing that a light bulb clicked in my mind. “Jordan was such an amazing big brother to me, I need to do that exact same thing for someone else.” After months of researching the perfect organization to get involved with, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities popped up on my computer screen. The fact that I could be a “Big Sister” to someone else the same way my big brother was for me was an answer to my prayers. As you can probably imagine I applied right away and well, the rest is history.


Big Brothers Big Sisters in a non-profit organization that has been around for more than 100 years and is the largest child mentoring organization in the United States. BBBB, as we call it, is also an international organization as well. Big Brothers Big Sisters International was founded in 1998 and now serves children in 12 different countries including Israel, Russia, and Bulgaria. This organization continues to grow every year and I believe it is because of their focus on children as individuals and not children as a whole.


            Big Brothers Big Sisters using one on one mentoring where adult volunteers “Bigs” are matched with children “Littles”. One on one mentoring really creates a close bond between the “Little” and “Big” which in turn leaves a life changing impact on the child involved. Personally I have been matched with my “little” for a year now and have loved every minute of it. Not only do I see rewarding changes in her, but she has really help me realize what is truly important in life and that is to make connections with people everyday single day.

            Mentoring has become such a huge part of my life and I feel completely blessed that I get the opportunity to promote Big Brothers Big Sisters this year as Miss Minnesota International. Everyday of your life you get to decide how you want to spend your time, I choose to spend my time with my “little” and I never have regretted it. “Start something big, become a mentor.” 

Miss Minnesota 2016
Sabrina Astar

" See the person, NOT the disability" by Kelly Brown

One’s platform is not something that can be chosen out a hat. One’s platform is chosen carefully by each individual so that advocacy can be guaranteed! My platform “See the person, NOT the disability” is one that I hold very dear to my heart. It helps protect the rights of those with disabilities and support their inclusion and participation in our community. I believe that EVERY person deserves the chance to reach their full potential. 

The reason that this platform is one that I am so passionate about it because I grew up with two older brothers who were both born with intellectual disabilities and developmental delays. My oldest brother Tony is higher functioning, but Viny has trouble communicating with others, even after many speech classes. I have been a personal witness of the stares and the laughter that my brothers encounter every single day of their lives. Their disabilities are what they HAVE, but NOT who they are. 



The organization that I have chosen to partner with is the Arc organization which helps bring individuality, community, equity, and many other things to these individuals. The Arc believes that all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are defined by their own strengths, abilities and inherent value, not by their disability! It is my goal to advocate with this organization throughout my reign and help people realize that disability does not mean inability. 

Miss Teen Minnesota 2016
Kelly Brown