Monday was awesome. Basically this was the day in which I covered the entire spectrum of what Miss New York does: the Columbus Day Parade and then the PFLAG NYC 30th Annual Dinner, celebrating the main organization I work with in my platform. Beginning with the parade, I rode in a classic white '56 Thunderbird down Fifth Avenue in a red dress, in honor of the thousands of Italians who came out to participate or watch. I'm pretty sure most of them thought I was Italian too...oops! Nope - this is just a Miss NY tradition thanks to our favorite Italian Linda Carbo! We took a lot of pics - and by we, I mean my mom who followed me pretty much the entire route to take pics with different backgrounds, specifically the Apple store :) So make sure to check out my photo gallery of October Events. PS. I met the Mayor again at the parade - 2 times in one week.
Then it was home to rest, but not have to redo hair and makeup haha for the PFLAG NYC dinner. As I arrived to host the VIP reception, I learned of some exciting news. While I was meeting the mayor, his office was calling PFLAG, asking to speak at our dinner. Drew, executive director of PFLAG, hung up from that phone call and had a voicemail from Christine Quinn, speaker of the City Council, asking to also speak at our dinner! So in addition to all of the great speakers and honorees we had lined up, we added these two prominent figures to the mix, which brought is a lot of press. The VIP reception was gorgeous on the top of TriBeCa rooftop with amazing food and views. I was able to spend time with Kate and Jerry Hathaway, Anne Hathaway's parents and long time supporters of PFLAG and the Pride Agenda, Thomas Roberts from my MSNBC interview and his mother Michelle, Brian Burke, our featured honoree and US Men's Olympic Hockey Coach, Paul Tagliabue, former commissioner of the NFL, Rory O'Malley and Jenny Kanelos from Broadway Impact, Christine Quinn, Danny Drumm, Mayor Bloomberg, and of course the celebrities of our table, my wonderful friends and family who could attend.
After a fantastic kickoff and welcome from Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn, our emcee Rory O'Malley kicked things off with by honoring JetBlue for being a loyal corporate sponsor for many years. (I met the VP and I'm looking forward to meeting with him about the Miss New York Org!) Following JetBlue, Point Scholar and Foundation alum James Mize introduced David Steward, co-chair of the Point Foundation, which awards scholarships to LGBT marginalized youth. As the focus of the dinner was our Safe Schools program which has grown immensely because of the PFLAG dinner last year, I spoke about my experiences in schools, specifically sharing stories from ACCION Academy in the Bronx. Perhaps the most moving part of the evening followed when Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner, gave a touching and glowing introduction of our Stay Close Leadership in Sports recipient, Brian Burke US Men's Olympic hockey coach. In short, Brian is a father who in February lost his son to a tragic car accident. Brendan was gay. He was a hockey player too. Brian was emotional as this was he first time he spoke in public about Brendan's death. His message was poignant, (paraphrased) "Don't applaud me. I just loved my son unconditionally and I look forward to the day when this award does not exist." Agreed. He concluded the evening presentations leaving everyone emotionally invested in the night, the cause, the youth we are targeting, and the necessary growth and development within PFLAG NYC. And on that note, we ended with our live call/auction and I cannot wait to hear what the final results of our fundraising totaled. It was an inspiring evening, one I will not forget.
More photos in my Photo Gallery PFLAG NYC, ESPA, ACLU Dinners