Last weekend, I was invited to participate in the 3rd annual Mankato's Chilifest for Vets and Retts. Teams from the Mankato community brought their favorite chili recipes to distribute to those attending the event. I had the honor of serving the judges, who trooped through at least 25 different chili recipes to choose their favorite! The proceeds from the event went toward the building of Veteran's Memorial Place in Mankato, a memorial to honor those who have served our country, and research to find a cure for Rett Syndrome. The following information is from the ChiliFest website
2010 marks the 3rd Annual Mankato’s ChiliFest for Vets and Rett. The idea for ChiliFest was conceived by Mankato Police Commanders Amy Vokal and Matt DuRose, along with KTOE 1420 AM radio personality Trish. During their weekly radio show, “Talkin’ the Beat”, they came up with the idea of having a grudge-match chili cook-off between police officers and firefighters. In the Fall of 2008, the idea gained inspiration, when Ashlyn Bennett, the daughter of Mankato Police Officer Jason
Bennett, had a dramatic change in her medical status. Ashlyn, who was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome in 2007, suffered a drastic and sudden onset of uncontrollable seizures, causing her to be hospitalized for a month. Ashlyn became the motivation to bring the 1st Annual ChiliFest to fruition, to raise money for the Minnesota Rett Syndrome Research Association. As the planning continued, Mankato area Veterans took up the cause as well, and the Mankato Veteran’s Memorial Place also became a beneficiary of the event. Thanks to the generous donations of the Greater Mankato Community members, over $23,000 has been raised for Rett Syndrome Research and the Mankato Veteran’s Memorial Place!
I am so thankful to have been included in this event! It was amazing to see the tremendous community support for this cause. Buster's Bar & Grill was packed! I hope this event continues to be succesful in the future until a cure for Rett Syndrome is found!
Wow! What a whirlwind week it has been! On November 13, I was crowned Miss Mankato 2011. It was an incredible experience with 8 incredible young women. One thing I love about the Miss America pageant is that, despite stereotypes about pageant cattiness, the young women involved in this program are wonderful! We had so much fun backstage. There was no competitive tension. Everyone helped each other out in some way or another--hair, a crooked dress (MY crooked dress actually! Thanks Alexi!), advice, motivation, encouragement... I can honestly say I came out of the experience with a great new group of friends! I would also like to note the dedication of members of the Miss Mankato committee, specifically Shelly Bartlett and Paul Finocchiaro, who spent a lot of time with us in the week leading up to the pageant. The Miss America Organization is a successful program because of dedicated volunteers at the local level. And finally, a thank you needs to go out to the judges and local sponsors who made this year's event possible in spite of the snow storm!
Following my crowning, I was whisked off to KEYC news station by former Miss Mankato and Miss Minnesota, Jennifer Hudspeth to be interviewed on the 10 o'clock news. The next day, I attended "An Afternoon of Inspiration," hosted by Miss Minnesota Kathryn Knuttila in St. Peter.
I am so thankful to have the opportunity to rejoin the Miss America Organization in the Mankato community after finishing my year-long pageant hiatus to focus on school. I can't wait to see what the next year brings as I continue to support this organization that I love and its national platform, the Children's Miracle Network. And of course, I am excited to enhance my work in the Autism community with the help of the Miss Mankato Organization.
This week at Awesome Club, we welcomed back some St. Olaf students who had been at the middle school for the past few weeks with a fun name game. We were all impressed with how many people remembered everyone's names. Next, we tried a new game called WAH. The teamwork and timing involved were difficulut, but the high schoolers all made a great effort. After WAH, we split up to play Silent Ball and Apples to Apples. Awesome Club will meet again after Thanksgiving break!
This week at Awesome Club, we played a new game that involves a bunch of hands, a lot of table-slapping, and some serious concentration. I'm sure all of the high schoolers will agree that it was a big hit (no pun intended). After our successful large group game, we split up. Half of Awesome Club played Apples to Apples while the other half learned some interesting facts about each other while playing "fruit basket" (a game kind of like musical chairs...but way cooler!). All in all, it was a fun-filled afternoon.
Written by Stephanie Smith; Editted by Natalie Davis
This week at Awesome Club, we welcomed a few new faces and welcomed back a few people we hadn't seen for a couple weeks. We were all very impressed when some new members were able to name everyone in Awesome Club, even will all the comings and goings of the St. Olaf students (all in all, there are about 13 high school studnets and approximately 5 or 6 St. Olaf volunteers who come each week, so it's quite a lot of people to keep track of, but lots of opportunity to spark new and interesting conversations!) After short introductions and a tasty snack, we took pictures with the pumpkins we had decorated last week and then made thank-you notes for the incredible help we had at our Halloween party. The St. Olaf Volunteer Network provided funding for our cookie decorating supplies and Dominoes pizza. Our friend Claudia--a PCA for one of our students--brought pumpkins from her garden for us to decorate. And, we couldn't forget to thank Mrs. Weis, our wonderful and dedicated supervisor (the person who contacted me to set up an Awesome Club at the high school) who has been excellent to work with. After some time hanging out inside, we ventured outside to play chain tag. One Awesome Club member set the record for the longest time spent running without being tag--great job to our sumo wrestler (a reference to his Halloween costume from the previous week). In the last few minutes of Awesome Club, we broke into small groups to play games--Uno, Apples to Apples, multi-person Solitaire, and Monopoly.
-Written by Stephanie Smith; Editted by Natalie Davis