Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Platform

The pageantry and patriotism of NASCAR is second to none, but it is what’s behind the wheel that truly matters.  Founded in 2006, The NASCAR Foundation encompasses the compassion of the world’s second largest sport, NASCAR, and our commitment to serving communities, helping children lead happier healthier lives.  We work with hundreds of 501c3 charities who help children including the American Red Cross, Victory Junction and Speediatrics. 

In 2010, we reached a milestone being able to collect over a million dollars in donations from generous race fans which allowed for more than 1,000 children to attend Victory Junction Camp, provide over 500 NASCAR Dreams at-track and celebrating with over 12,000 fans who had joined The NASCAR Foundation Volunteer Network.

As Mrs. North Carolina, I traveled over 13,000 miles promoting The NASCAR Foundation as one of their spokesmen.  I made hundreds of new friends during my 108 wonderful hours volunteering with The NASCAR Foundation as part of our NASCAR Unites campaign.  And, I am thrilled I was able to help collecting over $100,000 from generous donors.  My initial goal was to help raise $25,000.  I believe once a goal is met, you aspire to set another…and so goes my quest!

Now, as Mrs. International, I will to continue to be a spokesperson for The NASCAR Foundation.  I plan to travel over 11,000 miles making appearances across the United States and Internationally.  I will be promoting volunteerism, as part of the NASCAR Unites campaign, with hopes to double our network of volunteers, raise more funds for children’s charities and most importantly, make sure every child feels like a champion.  To learn more, please visit WWW.NASCAR.COM/Unites.

Janet Bolin

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Meet the New Mrs. International - Janet Bolin!

Born and raised in Heath, Ohio, I graduated from Heath High School proud of serving the school as Student Council President, Band President, Captain of the Majorettes, Varsity Cheerleader and Miss Heath 1992 which advanced to the Miss Sweet Corn Festival where I captured 2nd runner up.  My parents gave me endless opportunities to identify my strengths, weaknesses and passions.  I started dance lessons at age 3 and by age 7 my dance teacher, who celebrated her 60th year teaching this year, gave me the opportunity to compete in the Petite Miss Dance of Ohio Competition.  There was no looking back from that point, I was destined to continue competing in solo and group dance competitions all the way through high school.  I even came back during my summer breaks in college to be swing at nationals. (Swing is when you learn everyone’s position to fill-in for whomever may be sick or injured – anything can happen when the pressure is on.)

I chose Bowling Green State University for their outstanding Communications program.  While there I was part of the University Performing Dancers, a student director for the University Activities Organization (UAO) as well as a campus tour guide.  I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Science for Journalism with a Minor in Marketing, but had no idea of how exciting and adventurous my career would be.

For the past 15 years, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work in the automotive industry from every angle.  I started working for an ad agency in Toledo where 90% of our accounts were automotive in nature.  From there, I went to work for Clevite Engine Parts in Ann Arbor, then the Federal Mogul Corporation which is the second largest automotive aftermarket company in the world.  Branching off to work for a smaller corporation, I then went to Tremec Transmissions in Farmington Hills, Michigan before jumping over to work for a race team – to see how the other half lived is what I always say.  Each role with these automotive giants encompassed creating sales promotions with regional and/or national and international sales managers, distributors and key customers.  I also worked closely with each racing organization – NASCAR, NHRA, IRL as well as the grass roots racing organizations like ARCA managing driver appearance contract obligations and special awards/contingency contracts. 

I currently work for NASCAR in their Charlotte office which is in Uptown Charlotte adjacent to the new NASCAR Hall of Fame.  I am the marketing manager for the licensing and retail division.  No two days are the same and I cherish every new opportunity to create marketing promotions for our licensees and retailers. 

Janet Bolin

Monday, July 25, 2011


For the last three years, I have organized fundraisers for various charities including Erick’s Hope (founded in memory of my 12 year old cousin who passed away three years ago of heart-related problems), the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Heart Association.  In all, I have raised thousands of dollars for these good causes while providing volunteer leadership to their cause.
 Many have asked me what I did to fundraise for the various charities that I support.  So, in this blog, I will share with you a few of the ways I successfully raised money for these worthy causes.   

1.       Direct Appeals

In addition to writing letters to my family, friends and neighbors asking for their support, I also went door to door to local merchants enlisting them to donate to my charities. Don’t be afraid to tell people frankly what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what the cause means to you. Be specific when you ask for their support. The reason most people don’t support a worthy cause is because no one asks them to do so. 

2.       Special Events 

I have also coordinated and held dinners, silent auctions, raffles and even a tug-of-war competition on my college campus in order to benefit my charities. Be sure to keep things as close to zero overhead as possible. Use your family home or a friend’s home for the event. If you have friends who are musically talented, ask them to share that gift to make the event all the more special. Ask one restaurant to donate some entrees and other one to donate drinks and so on. Ask other businesses to donate items for the silent auction. Do you know someone with a beach condo? Ask them if they’ll donate a week to be auctioned off. If you have a title, wear your sash and crown, and use the opportunity to explain to them how the International Pageant System puts an emphasis on a platform of charitable service. Don’t forget to invite these supportive businesspeople to attend your event!  Remember, again, the reason most people don’t get involved in charitable good works like this is no one asks them – be the person who asks them! 

This year, as Miss Teen International, I was challenged with an aggressive fundraising goal from the American Heart Association and am proud to say that I not only met the goal, but exceeded it by twenty percent!!!   

In addition to money, I have volunteered over 250 hours for the American Heart Association and over 375 hours for all of my charities!  If you are going to ask other people to support your cause, you have to show you are going to get into the trenches and “work it” yourself. 

At this time I am working to raise funds for another American Heart Association campaign: The Heart Walk.  I will be walking in early November, and if you find it in your heart to donate to this worthy cause and help my team make its’ goal, please go to my donation page and make a gift: 

The American Heart Association is a truly wonderful organization.  Through my internship there this year I have seen firsthand that the money does get channeled to the cause and very little goes towards overhead. 

Thank you! 

Juliana McKee
Miss Teen International 2010

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

American Heart Association Community Teams

I was honored to be asked to be on the committee for the American Heart Association Community Team for the Washington DC Heart Walk. In addition to serving on the committee and attending planning meetings, I will also be helping to recruit teams of young adults through sororities and fraternities. To start the recruiting, I created Team Sigma Kappa Sorority, as I am a proud member of the Beta Zeta chapter of Sigma Kappa at the University of Maryland! I am also honored to get an opportunity to work with Mrs. North East International who serves as the Director of Community Teams for the American Heart Association Greater Washington Region.

Join me in my efforts to support American Heart Association - Washington, DC! Imagine the impact if we reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020! I’m joining the American Heart Association's Heart Walk to promote physical activity to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Please support me in helping to reach this lifesaving goal by giving a donation today! Thanks in advance for your support!

I invite you to join my team, Team Sigma Kappa Sorority, regardless of whether or not you are affiliated with Sigma Kappa, today! Even an action as simple as joining our team, joining a different existing team, or creating your own team and spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc is a huge step in the right direction toward finding answers and ending heart disease, our nation’s #1 killer of both men and women. To join our team, copy and paste the link (below) into your browser and click “Join our team”. Donations of ANY size, big or small, are extremely appreciated- every penny counts in the fight against heart disease! However, it’s 100% free to join our team and we would love to have you join us in supporting the AHA!

My individual page is:

Our fundraising enables the American Heart Association to make extraordinary impact on your life and the lives of those around you.  Please click on the links below to learn more about how, because of you, the American Heart Association is fighting heart disease and stroke everyday.

     Start a new life resolution today with the My Life Check program.
     Want to do more?  Join Youre The Cure!
     Gain access to our suite of FREE tools to promote your healthy living.
     Check out our online HeartHub to better understand health risks and a library of information and resources.
American Heart Association - Washington, DC contact information:
Email Address:
Phone: (703) 248-1715

Juliana McKee

Friday, July 15, 2011

Texas Aggie Magazine

I graduated from Texas A&M University back in 2006, & I enjoyed every minute that I was there! The school is home to over 46,000 students, so there are a lot of amazing alumni that come out of our school and do amazing things in their communities.
That’s why I was so honored when I was contacted to be featured in the summer issue of Texas Aggie Magazine, our school’s alumni publication! The article focuses on my work done as Miss International and my work done while a student at Texas A&M University. I am so excited for it to come out later this month!

Ashley Smith

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Erase Cyber-Bull​ying ... Take A Stand!

Cyber Bullying… "Delete it" …. Take a Stand …. Say "No!" to Cyber Bullying!!"

As we lead into Nationals, I want to speak out on the subject of cyber bullying.  I am asking each contestant, director, coach and parent to take a stand against cyber bullying.  If you see someone taking part in cyber bullying, confront them.  If you are being attacked by cyber bullies, tell your family.  I produced a public service announcement for an organization called “Say It to My Face.”   I have never engaged in cyber bullying although I have personally been victimized by it.

I believe those who participate in this behavior will never win, because they are so focused in tearing others down that they lose focus of doing their personal best. 

A Queen does not cyber bully.
A winner does not cyber bully.
Take the pledge to “Delete Cyber Bullying Now!”

Juliana McKee
Miss Teen International 2010

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Year Full of Blessings Continues

I still find it incredibly hard to believe this year is coming to an end and Mrs. International 2011 will soon be crowned! I want to take this opportunity to thank YOU, the loyal readers/followers of the International Pageants blog and a HUGE thank you to Cristen Richardson Vehorn for making sure the entire year has been documented! Speaking of Cristen, CONGRATULATIONS to the Vehorns, Grandma & Grandpa Richardson and the entire International family on the birth of Mary-Catherine! I can’t wait to meet the bundle of joy! (You know Mary has to be the most gorgeous grandmother on earth)!

Being Mrs. International has been rewarding in so many ways. I have so many amazing memories, and have gained the most precious friendships that I will cherish forever!  I have accomplished the goals I set for myself.  I have gained more contacts, knowledge, and heightened awareness about adoption and I know that I have made a difference in the lives of others through my platform, “Building Families Through The Miracle Of Adoption”.

To the young woman who is crowned next week, I want you to know that you are so BLESSED! Mary and Mel are two of the most amazing souls on earth and make it possible for so many women to share their passions!  The state directors believe in the International system and pour their hearts into it year round, the team at the Competitive Image will spoil you rotten for sure…so get ready for the time of your LIFE!!! With that being said, please keep in mind that “Balance” is key, Time management is critical, and multi-tasking is a MUST!  Along with being Mrs. International, I am a full time as a sales manager for a leading biotech company, “mommy” to the most amazing, energetic, magical little girl in the world (who has 2 speeds…asleep and FULL steam ahead…you get the picture). I have been non-stop for a year but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Some of the most rewarding moments, I have not been able to publicly post because of privacy issues surrounding adoption. Being the passionate person I am…it has been incredibly tough because there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child placed in a permanent home! My heart smiles and it has made me even more passionate about my belief that EVERY child deserves a loving, permanent family! I am forever grateful for this job of service!

I will see you in Chicago (with a few boxes of tissues). I am not saying goodbye…I’m just becoming an alumni J When you truly “live” your platform, the service never ends…
God Bless you all!

Shannon Devine

Monday, July 11, 2011

Preparing for Nationals...Get Organized!

Both years that I competed at for Miss Teen International, I prepared a spreadsheet of all my clothes, shoes and accessories for each event during the week.  Once I completed my spreadsheet, I carefully packed each outfit in its’ own garment bag which was labeled by outfit, day, and event. I also organized the accompanying jewelry and shoes and put them with the outfit.

The week is so busy with activities that being organized and ready for a quick change is essential. I also recommend bringing a garment rack for the hotel room as you will definitely need the extra closet/storage room.

Here is a sample of the spreadsheet that I would like to share with you. Feel free to use it as you prepare to compete!
Juliana McKee

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reflection...Who Packed Your Parachute?

In a week, 50+ contestants will arrive in Chicago for the Mrs. International Pageant. I hope through this blog entry that I will make you think deeply about the legacy you want to leave. Each contestant has been blessed with the opportunity to compete among the best of the best. One of you will leave with the crown and the title of Mrs. International 2011.  If it is not in God’s plan for you to wear the crown, what do you want others to remember about you? I love the story below and I challenge you to read and re-read before you arrive in Chicago. You already wear  a crown, represent a title, your  family, your  state, and country with grace and style. Please take the time to read below? What do you want your legacy to be? I will see you in a week!!!!  

Who packed your parachute?

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat

missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected

and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a

communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at

another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in

Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.

"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and

Gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!" Plumb

assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here


Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, I

kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a

bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have

seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything  because,

you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a "sailor." Plumb thought of

the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels  of

The ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute,

holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone

has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He  also

points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was  shot

down over enemy territory -- he needed his physical parachute, his mental

parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He  called

on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges of life, we miss what is most important. We often fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them,  give

a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through

this week, competition week, the weeks after Nationals, and even for the remainder of your reign…don’t forget to recognize the people who pack your parachutes. 

Thank you to all who packed my parachute…I love you!

Shannon Devine

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fourth of July

I hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July!! It’s one of my favorite holidays J This year, I was able to go to the festivities near downtown Houston with a few of my friends to watch the fireworks and hear some live music.  

The cost to get in was just ONE canned good! With over 100,000 expected to attend, we were able to collect lots of food for those who need it!

Of course we all know that there is a BIG reason to celebrate, and it’s not all about the spectacle in the sky. Remembering our troops that have fought and are still fighting for our freedom is what the 4th is all about for me! My friends and I took the time to write postcards to the soldiers thanking them for their service and wishing them a safe return home!

There were so many people there to celebrate our wonderful country with the city of Houston as the backdrop!

Another wonderful Independence Day!

Ashley Smith

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Presidential Gold Service Award

For the second year in a row, I was honored to be awarded the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award.  This award recognizes exceptional volunteer and community service. There is a minimum 250 hour service commitment for the award in my age group. I am proud to have actually completed over 375 hours from April 2010-April 2011, including the majority of my reign as Miss Teen International.

I am equally proud to have over 250 hours of volunteer service alone dedicated to my platform, the American Heart Association and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. I encourage all youth to pursue this award, it will certainly help them in the competitive world when applying for college or their first job.

I proudly wear my two gold service award pins on my sash and have two certificate and letters personally signed by the President of the United States!

Thank you to my former director, Rita Sinha, who sponsored me for the award both years.

Juliana McKee

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Considering Adoption...A Guide to Help

Considering Adoption? Or know someone who is?
I cannot begin to tell you the countless emails, Facebook messages, etc. that I receive from prospective adoptive parents requesting information on how to begin the adoption process.

What a great idea to share information on our blog in hopes of sharing some expert “how-to-adopt” advice and heartwarming stories from the editors and readers of Adoptive Families magazine and other sites.

It is always a pleasure to meet with families and talk about our Adoption Journey". My last visit, was a few days ago with a physician and his wife. The visit went very well! (except for Halle-Grace leaving lots of cheerios on the floor, she did however clean up her little mess before we said goodbye - she is a cool kid for sure)!

As I continue to receive more and more requests, I wanted to share a few sites that I find trustworthy! As I stated, adoption is a journey, not a process…so hold on and enjoy the JOURNEY!

Here’s a wonderful starting place:
 * National Council For Adoption (NCFA) is an adoption advocacy nonprofit that promotes a culture of adoption through education, research, and legislative action. They have been in service for over 30 years and remain the premier non- profit adoption advocacy group. Above all, Education is KEY! My personal recommendation to anyone considering adoption…find an accredited agency! Visit NCFA’s website
Agencies under their “umbrella” are accredited!

Carolina Adoption Services
This is the agency we went through to adopt Halle-Grace
And there are many more listed on the NCFA website that are wonderful agencies!

More sites, you will find helpful depending on domestic vs. international adoption
This site will bring you up to date on adoption laws in each state (very important to know this crucial information)! Laws are different state to state, so please do your homework.

Another site that contains a wide breadth of information Great stories for pre-adoption/post adoption, etc.

Once you find an agency you feel comfortable working with, ask for references and call at least 3 families who have completed their adoption. This is more valuable than I can express!

It is always a joy to have the opportunity to share our adoption journey to our tiny miracle, Halle-Grace! I believe every child deserves a loving, permanent family and “Building families through the miracle of adoption” is a true passion of mine and I love getting inquiries seeking guidance/information, and I am more than happy to help in any way that I can!

Little Miss Magic! Thank God for the gift of Adoption!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Guest Reader at Elementary School

Recently, after my sister’s graduation festivities, I visited the elementary school that I attended as a child where I did a guest reading for the first grade. I read the children a book titled “The Nature Club.”

After reading the book and answering questions from all of the curious children, I went on to bid farewell to my former fifth grade teacher, who will be retiring at the end of the school year. She was so excited to see me and made sure that I visited the podium at the front of her classroom.

Hanging on the front of the podium was a laminated poem appropriately titled “Podium”, which I had written for her as her student years ago.

She told me that it has graced the front of her podium for the last nine years. Between reading to and talking with the sweet first graders and my visit to my fifth grade teacher, it was such a touching and heartwarming visit!

Juliana McKee