One thing I wanted to do during my reign as Miss New York was focus on traveling to Western NY. Miss NY has not had a strong presence there, and we are missing out on so much. So I contacted the local titleholders in the Buffalo and Rochester areas and we went to town. I was so impressed by Desiree Wiley, Miss Buffalo 2010, from whom I immediately received an email CC’d to me through the superintendent of schools in Lockport as well as a few other area school districts. Katie Martin, former Miss Greater Rochester and now co-executive director, contacted some Rochester area schools as well. Since JetBlue had so graciously offered to fly me anywhere to talk about my platform, I took them up on it! So the trip went a little like this: Sunday straight from Queens PRIDE, I flew JetBlue to Buffalo, NY where Desiree hosted me for the few days.
Monday we spoke at Lockport High School in multiple assemblies, covering their entire 1,600+ student body, focusing on diversity, bullying and acceptance. Desiree was able to share that as a recent Lockport grad, she has already accomplished great things as Miss Buffalo and they were able to accomplish what they set their mind to as well! At the end of one of the presentations, a senior girl came up to me to say “Thank you” and invited me to the G/SA meeting that afternoon. When I went to the meeting I was so excited to find that it was actually their last meeting – what a way to celebrate! We had fascinating conversation about the role of youth in this civil rights movement as well as the shifting climate in schools that makes sexual orientation a bit less of an issue, however still reliving some important stories that should not be hidden to the public about bullying.
|Desiree and me with the Lockport HS Principal|
|Lockport HS Final Gay/Straight Alliance meeting|
In between the assemblies and the G/SA meeting, we were able to sneak away for a trip to Niagara Falls. I hadn’t been since 2006, so it was exciting to be able to return! Of course we had to take one picture with our crowns and sashes on and boy did that draw a cute crowd! People were sooo excited to meeting Miss Buffalo and Miss New York and one lady even told me about how excited she was last year to meet Miss America Caressa Cameron at an event! We had a family cookout that night where I got to experience just regular life with the Wiley’s friends and family.
|Miss America fans!|
Tuesday, we went to Rochester to Golisano Medical Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center at Strong Hospital where we were joined by Chelsea Prophet, Miss Greater Rochester 2011. In the play room, we had arts and crafts time, made frames and had some great talks with the kids there. With Desiree’s platform of organ, eye, tissue and blood donation, she was able to connect with some special kids who were there in that play room because of a donated organ. And since we were all dancers, that was a topic of conversation as well. I’m glad that we made such an impact on Golisano Hospital as Kaitlin Monte, Miss NY 2011 has already been able to go back! In fact, she went on an upstate CMN Hospital tour – take a look on her blog HERE. We returned to Buffalo for some media interviews which you can see featured HERE on the front page of the newspaper.
The next day in Buffalo, we had a meeting with Senator Tim Kennedy. I met the Senator in Albany on a lobby day and he was so excited to bring Miss NY to Buffalo and share experiences from the marriage equality trail. He is an upstanding Senator who has been very supportive and vocal about marriage equality, regardless of it’s potential effect on his political standing and/or race. After hearing from me, and also hearing of Desiree’s involvement with her platform (he had a blood drive set for the following Saturday!), he said to consider him a partner of the Miss New York Organization and became and Elite 100 Donor to the Empire State Scholarship Education Fund. I’d say overall it was a very successful trip! Taking this trip to Western NY allowed me to check off my wish list as Miss New York and I’m very grateful for all who helped to make it possible and especially to the Wiley family for hosting my stay.
|Senator Tim Kennedy, Buffalo|