Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Hello International family!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and ate lots of yummy food!

Last Tuesday my arm was injured in a basketball game. The x-rays showed that the radial head is broken in my left elbow. In other words, no basketball for two weeks! I will definitely be “blinging” up my sling!

I would like to thank everyone for all the prayers that have been sent up to the One True Healer! Thank you for bearing with me! 

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” –Philippians 4:13

Jurnee Carr

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

I can’t remember a single Thanksgiving that I did not watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Whether I was cooking or just camped out in front of the T.V., I was always left in awe at the floats, enormous balloons and performances. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to attend this year’s  parade.   As with everything I do, things did not go as planned. Long story short, my family and I arrived in New York at 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning! Ticket holders were to line up at 7 a.m. so that left us with an hour to sleep if we wanted to make it into the city and get in line.  We probably could’ve slept longer, but we didn’t want to leave anything to chance.   After a quick nap and a call to a cab company we were off.  Groggy, but in good spirits, our cab driver’s jokes and driving woke us up!   He was friendly and all things New York. 

When we got to the corner of Columbus and 71st street, it was about 6:30 a.m. and ticketholders were being waived in.  We got in line and waited to be seated on the bleachers.  You could sense the excitement in the air.  Everyone was in fantastic spirits and excited about the parade.  Then came the wait.  Two and half hours on ice cold bleachers!!  Lucky for us, it wasn’t as cold as in year’s past and there was more than ample sunlight. 
“Happy Thanksgiving!! Welcome to the Macy’s Parade”  roller-bladers dressed as elves whizzed down the street, throwing confetti and getting the crowd ready for the parade.   I was so excited I thought I might burst.  As I spotted the first floats and the Great American Marching Band, I couldn’t help but cheer!! Was I really sitting in Central Park West watching the Macy’s Parade!!  I can’t even begin to describe what it was like to see massive balloons hovering above you!  Or to watch high school band members live out their dreams as they played and performed in the streets of New York! But, one of the coolest parts wasn’t the parade at all.  It was watching children, knee high to a toilet tissue stand, getting up and watching the parade in their pajamas from their apartment windows.  Wow!  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go!!

Here comes the guest of honor!

The floats were spectacular creations!

America’s favorite bird!

Buzz Light Year!!!

While I love Sponge Bob… He was actually kinda scary!

Another amazing float!

I waited all morning to see Snoopy! Can you tell how excited I am!

The performers were fantastic!

My spidey senses tell me fun is in the air!

I’m a lifetime muppets fan!  Kermit was the icing on the cake! If only Miss Piggy was there!

The Man of the hour!  Here comes Santa Clause!

This was an amazing experience and a dream come true for me and my family!  Thank you to all of you who made this possible! 
Ciji Dodds
Miss International 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Battle of the NASCAR Kids

The first ever Battle of the NASCAR Kids Charity Video Game Tournament, racing the new NASCAR Unleashed video game at Homestead Miami Speedway, resulted in Ryan Blaney taking the trophy.  

Faith Yeley, Sebastian Montoya, Carson Kvapil, Todd Gilliland and Ryan Blaney were featured along with two random wild card selections from the crowd and child representative from the Boys and Girls Club, Esmeralda.  Each child was surrounded by tons of friends and family cheering for them.

Each NASCAR child was competing for a purpose, as each received a $5,000 donation made to their charity of choice.  J.J. Yeley’s daughter Faith competed for the Jake Raborn Foundation, Juan Pablo Montoya’s son Sebastian competed for Formula Smiles, Travis Kvapil’s son Carson competed for NASCAR Dreams, David Gilliland’s son Todd competed for Sherrills Ford Optimist Park and David Blaney’s son Ryan competed for Alzheimer’s Association.  

We are very thankful the weather held out for this event.  On Friday, the sky opened up with severe weather causing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions to be rescheduled for Saturday morning.  On Saturday morning while the dad’s were on-track, the families banded together even more to support all the children.  Even the Grandma’s and Grandpa’s piled on golf carts to come cheer on their grandchildren – and even help them “warm up” by competing against them during the video game practice sessions.  This was truly a family affair.  

A big thank you to Activision for their ongoing mission to support charities, worldwide.  Being able to create an event to empower kids to make a difference is simply outstanding.  We look forward to a bigger and better event next year!

Janet Bolin

Build Your Platform…Build Your Resume

Everyone knows that a platform should be a cause that is near and dear to heart.  Such that you would be willing to work for free to promote it.  However, a lot of people don’t realize that the work that they do for their platform often entails developing and implementing highly marketable skills.  Skills, that could give you a competitive advantage in the job market and make you all the more attractive to potential employers.  Think of your platform work as a tool in your toolkit.  Each tool does something different, but they each work together for the common goal of helping you build your brand and achieve success on your own merits.  Here are some tips.

1.      Become a skilled volunteer. Seek out volunteer organizations and opportunities that will allow you to build your skill set.  You would be amazed at the number of organizations that need volunteers who are devoted to specific high level tasks such as grant writing, community organizing, fundraising, giving presentations etc., and as such, the organizations are willing to train and mentor you.  This can be especially beneficial because the training that you receive does not occur in a high stakes work environment; hence there is a different level of pressure.  These are highly sought after skills that can enhance anyone’s resume, regardless of their career field. 
2.      Become an expert. What is your platform?  Why is it important?  What are some national facts about your platform?  What are some state specific facts about your platform?   What organizations have aligned themselves with your specific cause?  These are questions that most of us tackle during interview prep. But, if a person on the street or a reporter were to ask you these questions, and you were to respond in a thoughtful and thorough manner, they would be impressed by the depth of your knowledge.  Stay on top of your platform and current developments.  That way, in addition to the skills that you are building, you become the go to person on that particular topic.  You never know when your platform knowledge will lead to a career opportunity.
3.      Understand what it is that you do.   I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t even think about the breadth of knowledge or experience that I have gained through my volunteer efforts.  But, when I take the time to actually think about it, I am amazed.  Take some time to evaluate your efforts.  Only then will you be able to comprehend the skills that you have developed or in the alternative, identify skills that you would like to develop.   
4.      Be able to articulate your skills.  It’s one thing to know what it is that you do.  But, can you communicate it in a way that accurately conveys your skills?   There is a fine line between embellishment and self promotion.  So honesty is always the best policy.  However, women tend to shy away from self promotion because we don’t want to be viewed as bragging.   Studies have consistently demonstrated that women are paid less and are less likely to be considered for job promotions because they don’t self promote to the same extent as men. You can be the best lawyer in the world but if no one knows it… You are your best advocate.  You know your worth, so don’t be afraid to express it to others.   After you have determined what it is that you do, choose action verbs and adjectives that reflect your skill level and accomplishments.  Are you an advocate?  Are you a fundraiser?  Are you a liaison?  Do you work with national nonprofits? Do you develop and implement initiatives?  What you may think of as merely a day in the life of a titleholder, may be extremely impressive to a potential employer.  
These are just a few tips.  I hope that you found this helpful.

Ciji Dodds

Miss International 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Donation To Kick Off Capital Campaign For New Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Last week, The NASCAR Foundation helped kick off Homestead Hospital’s capital campaign to build and equip a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a check presentation for $250,000. Creating a Level II NICU is a top priority, as more than 150 babies born each year at Homestead Hospital need intensive care that currently is provided only at hospitals located more than 20 miles away. This distance between hospital and home creates hardships for families and interferes with the parental bonding that is so vital to a newborn’s health during the first weeks of life. A Level II NICU at Homestead Hospital will allow these babies and their families to stay close to home while receiving the care they need.

The NASCAR Foundation, through Betty Jane France and her Speediatrics unit, has played a crucial role in the success of Homestead Hospital’s pediatric programs. The unique unit is one of only two in the country founded by France and is the only Emergency Center in south Miami-Dade County dedicated to children. Brought to Homestead Hospital in 2002, more than 23,000 patient visits a year are handled in the Speediatrics Children’s Emergency Center.

Part of the donation made by The NASCAR Foundation will be used to purchase Giraffe OmniBed Isolete Incubators, which are the most advanced and developmentally supportive microenvironments available today. The beds combine state of the art technology and thermal performance to create a healing environment for intensively ill newborns.

In addition, the ceremony honored Betty Jane France for her vision, work and dedication to Speediatrics at Homestead Hospital and Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., the first hospital to receive the racing-themed pediatric center. A portrait of Mrs. France was unveiled during the ceremony, which will be permanently on display in the Speediatrics unit.

Janet Bolin

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

I can remember my parents saying to me, “Stop being ungrateful!” It was a command and an admonishment that always left me irate and confused. In my head, I was grateful. I thought that I appreciated them and the things that I had, so I did not understand their frustration. I knew that I was grateful. So, how could they tell me what I was or was not? After all, they were not inside of my head. I laugh just thinking about it. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to realize what they meant. 

Being grateful is not just a state of mind. It is not sufficient to just internally acknowledge your gratitude. Being grateful requires action. It means not only being aware of what you have, but being aware of what others don’t have, being able to sympathize and above all else empathize with them. It means working hard in everything that you do, to show that you are grateful for the opportunity. It means remembering, “Who packed your Parachute.” It means acknowledging the grace and compassion that has been extended to you and paying it forward. It means working to ensure that others have the same opportunities that you have had and more. It means not being too busy to say, “please,” “thank you,” “yes ma’am,” or “no sir.”   

On this Thanksgiving, like everyone else, I will reflect on the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me. But there is one more element to giving thanks that I would like to incorporate. Each day, I pray that my actions reflect my gratitude-that I show my thanks, through giving to others. That my words inspire, comfort or encourage at least one person. And that I find the lesson and beauty in every challenge.  

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving,

Ciji Dodds
Miss International 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Go Red Heart Match

This free program helps you give or receive support to another Go Red Woman with a similar experience with heart disease— because women should not have to fight heart disease alone.

Visit, enter your zip code, view profiles of other women and create your own profile.  You’re not alone.  There is support.  Thank you for your support.

Janet Bolin

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Letter to My Dog

Do you love your dog? Then check out and write a letter to your precious pooch! If your letter is selected it could be published into a book, along with a photo of you and your dog! A contribution of the proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of the United States! 

Check out my letter to my dog, Chi-Chi, below and submit one of your own!

My precious Chi-Chi,

9 years ago I visited an awful place-a puppy mill. Little did I know what it was at the time, but I knew one thing-you were special. It was heart breaking to see you squirming and crying for help amidst all the chaos of the other puppies. As the runt of your litter, you stood out. Your black hair, white dipped tail, and white paws set you apart from your brothers and sisters who were toppling on you. I could see in your eyes and knew in my heart that you belonged in our home.

Rescuing you from that horrible place was a difficult task, but well worth it. You brought life into our home and made us appreciate the “little” things in life. From the moment we knew you were from a puppy mill, a burden was placed in my heart to help your other friends who were suffering in those harsh conditions. You are my inspiration for promoting adoption and spay/neutering through our organization, Jurnee’s Journey: Helping All God’s Creations.

As the official mascot and inspiration, you, Chi-Chi, have touched many animals’ and humans’ lives. You are a constant reminder that there is hope and that great things do come in small packages.

I love all 3 pounds and 11 ounces of you Chi-Chi Pooh!

Barks and wags,

Your mom, Jurnee Carr

Jurnee Carr

Friday, November 18, 2011

Top 10 Must Have Beauty Products

As Mrs. International I get asked by coworkers and clients. "what are some of your favorite beauty products."  As a former lifeguard and water baby, I am much more mindful of taking care of my skin as I get older.  I'm always happy to share my "secrets" because we can always learn from one another, so below is a quick list of my top 10 must have beauty products. 

Top 10 Must Have Beauty Products
10. Clarins Sun Veil SPF 45.  For those who have sensitive skin, burn easily or just want to prevent sun damage, this is the ticket.  It soaks into my skin instantly, is non-greasy and lasts all day.  I’ve tested this at all of the race tracks we go to were the sun can punish your skin, i.e. Phoenix, Cali, Hometead and Texas.  I recommend rubbing the excess on the backs of your hands once you’ve applied to your face and neck.

9. Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser.  Does the trick every time to gently remove my make-up and it smells wonderful.

8. Clarisonic (Thank you again, Stephanie.)  For that extra umph to get your skin looking stunning, there is nothing better than this little beauty secret.

7. Bliss Super Minty Soap+Scrub.  This invigorating scrub travels well due to the tub packaging and is the perfect pick-me-up.

6. Bliss Hot Salt Scrub.  Very stimulating for sore legs and feet…I highly recommend trying or giving it as a gift to your girlfriends.

5. Redken All Soft Shampoo and Conditioner.  Between the gym, outdoor elements and traveling, my hair loves these products.

4. Sally Beauty Lip Inflatrion Extreme in Sheer Bare.  Just enough color to enhance your lips and plumping to make you look like you had injections - without the needle.

3. Philosophy.  Hope in a tube, Hope in a jar and When hope is not enough are my daily must-haves. 

2. Supersmile.  Those who know me can back me up when I say “I’ve tried everything” to the point where my teeth are too sensitive to even think of placing another whitening strip near my mouth.  Thanks to Stephanie for letting the contestants sample this amazing product at the Mrs. International pageant.  I now only use this professional whitening toothpaste and accelerator because it works and my teeth love it.

1. Clay Spann Cosmetics.  The all day nourishing ingredients make a huge difference in the texture and condition of my skin.  My skin loves all of the products especially the Picture Perfect Foundation and Face Kit.

Janet Bolin

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Than Milk

When you see a cow, what do you think? Milk? Moo? Old McDonald? These are very common thoughts, but cows are so much more than milk! 

This past weekend I traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to the 38th annual North American International Livestock Expo. The expo was all about sheep, horses, and cows…oh my! All weekend farmers from all around the world gathered together to show their livestock! I like to think of livestock shows as an animal beauty pageant; they are based on how well and healthy the animal looks (physical fitness) and the overall presentation (evening gown).

One of the most interesting things about livestock shows is how the animal is treated before, during, after competition. Prior to a show, the show heifers (female cows) are treated with the highest regards. They are bathed each day that they are at a show, as well as blown dry. The heifers always eat twice a day. A great deal of time is spent grooming the calves to ensure that their hair is perfect. Basically, they must go into hair and makeup before on stage competition.

The judges look for many different things in a good show heifer, such as the healthiness of the coat of hair, the correct amount of fat - not too much and not too little, it must be very thick and healthy, all of the feet must be pointing in the same direction, and the cow must have a large bone structure. All in all, the show person must take special care of the animal and treat it humanely.

Livestock shows give kids and adults the opportunity to meet people from all around the world. Like pageants, they require a lot of hard work and discipline. Also, scholarships are given to the showmen with the best animal! As you can see, cows are more than just milk.

Jurnee Carr

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Workout Playlist

I can’t live without my iPod! Wherever I go, it goes.   As I prepared for Nationals I developed a playlist that I entitled “Radar.” Why did I call it “Radar?”  Because when I set a goal, achieving that goal is the only thing that is on my Radar.  Everything else is ancillary.  When I first started the playlist, it was difficult to pick workout songs that had a great beat and put me in a fun mood.  Just in case you are struggling to do the same, here is a peak at my playlist. In no particular order, here are my top 25 songs.

Just a Girl-  No Doubt

The Glamorous Life- Sheila E (Sorry Fergie, nothing beats the original!)
Run The World (Girls)-  Beyonce

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)-  Eurythmics
Play- Jennifer Lopez

Hat 2 Da Back- TLC
OMG- Usher

Senorita- Justin Timberlake
Jaded- Aerosmith

Upgrade U- Beyonce
Hey Ya- Outkast

Pretty Girl Rock- Keri Hilson
Til The World Ends- Britney Spears

Rumour Has It- Adele
Brickhouse- The Commodores

Drive- Incubus
PYT (Pretty Young Thing)- Michael Jackson

California Gurls- Katy Perry

American Woman- Lenny Kravitz
Toxic- Britney Spears

Maneater- Nelly Furtado
Beautiful Day- U2

Showstopper- Danity Kane
Mama Said Knock You Out- LL  Cool J

Sweet Georgia Brown- Ella Fitzgerald

Mmmmh I wonder what my music says about me!?!? 

Ciji Dodds

Miss International 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reflecting on Veterans Day

When I was younger, Veterans Day was a day off from school.  Even though my father was an Officer in the military, I didn’t understand the significance of his job or the contribution that he was making to our country.  Maybe I didn’t “get it” because everyone around me was in the military.  Deployments were a way of life.  It actually felt strange for my dad to be home for more than nine consecutive months at a time.  I lived on military bases where bombs from field maneuvers shook our houses  throughout the day and night.  During major conflicts, I watched CNN for clues as to when my dad would be sent away. As a child you worry, but the worry is not the same, nor is your grasp of the gravity of the situation that your parent has volunteered to be in. 

It wasn’t until I became an adult that I began to understand what it means to serve your country as member of the United States Military. It means facing your greatest fears and boldly walking into the line of danger, when others are running away.  It means sacrificing the precious time that you have with your family, to ensure the safety of others.  It means dedicating your life to protecting the freedom that defines America. And in some cases, it means going away and not coming home. 

As I look back on this Veterans Day, I am overwhelmed with pride.  I am proud of the contributions made by the millions of Americans and their families who serve our country.  They are the unsung heroes whose sacrifices we take for granted.  But for their courage and honor, the America that we know and love would not exist.  From the bottom of my heart, Thank You.


Ciji Dodds

Miss International 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Support Heart Research

I need your help.  The link below is my personal page to help raise at least $500 for the American Heart Association.  This is a non-profit organization which has a special place in my heart as my own father fell victim to a massive heart attack at age 46.  Funding for more research, leads to a better understanding of this vicious killer and the knowledge to combat it and save lives. 

With your help, we will be able to continue funding undergraduate and graduate students plus predoctoral fellowships with a portion of the donations collected over the next four months for the annual Go Red Campaign and National Wear Red Day.  If you have the means, please help by making a small donation via the link below.   Thank you very much for your support.

Janet Bolin

Animal Shelter Donations

This past week was National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week! The 3,500 animal shelters in the U.S. deserve this special week of recognition for providing a home for strays! Unfortunately, most shelters aren’t adequate for animals to live and for people to work. Many people can't adopt but want to help, and don't know how or maybe don't have the funds to donate.  A great medium is to donate items to your local shelters! Here are some items that shelters are in desperate need of:

Cleaning supplies

Pine sol
Laundry soap
Liquid dish soap
Garbage bags 55 gal
Garbage bags 15-20 gal
Scrub brushes & siding scrub brushes
Mop heads for commercial mops
Quality Pooper Scoopers
Industrial squeegees
Paper towels
Deodorizing Sprays
Window cleaner

Office & Building supplies

Gift Certificates for Kinko's / Office Depot
Rugs/floor mats
Fans - box or other
Duct tape
Packing tape
Pens and pencils
White Printer Paper

Animal Supplies

Dry Adult Food
Dry Puppy/Kitten Food
Canned Food

The weather is getting colder and we are piling on more jackets to stay warm! Animals do have fur but they need and extra jacket, like us! Another way to show the shelter some appreciation is to do a towel/blanket/linen drive. Play Santa and donate dog and cat toys! Pets need your love too!

Jurnee’s Journey mascot and my dog, Chi-Chi, says, “Thanks for caring for my friends!”

Jurnee Carr

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stevenson Elementary

Blame it all my roots…a famous line from a well-known country artist which runs true for me.  If it weren’t for teachers, staff and coaches in the Heath City School systems, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to present the NASCAR Unites campaign and show videos of the finalists for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award to the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students at my old elementary school, Stevenson Elementary School. 

The principal, Mrs. Coleman, and her staff have done an exceptional job and have even been recognized by earning the “Excellence with Distinction” award.  My introduction by Principal Coleman was truly heartwarming.  And, not but ten feet from the gymnasium where my presentation was held was the classroom where I had attended Kindergarten…lots of good memories!

As the students filed into the gym, I looked around, eager and hopeful my time with them would be inspirational.  I shared with them a fun video trailer of the new video game, NASCAR Unleashed.  Their reactions were so genuine – OHH, COOL!  I take pride in working with great companies who make it a priority to give back to their communities and the publisher of this video game, Activision, always looks for fun ways to make a positive impact on communities worldwide.  As you may have read, they are the charity sponsor for the Battle of the NASCAR Kids video game tournament which will be held at Homestead Miami Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 19th.  In support of my appearance, Activision sent me copies of NASCAR Unleashed to use as a reward for exceptional student leaders at Stevenson.

As my presentation continued, I shared the videos of our 4 finalists for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.  I had breakfast with my mom earlier that morning and she shared that I might want to ask the children if they knew what “Humanitarian” meant.  Great thought!  Thanks, Mom.  Living in a world where I interact with adults, I hadn’t thought of explaining that word.  “It’s a big word that means helping others,” is the definition my mom offered.  And the children definitely comprehended that definition.  With big eyes and 100% attention dedicated to watching the videos, the children were eager to talk about each video and understood that they can make a difference at any age.

At the conclusion of my presentation, I had fun Officially Licensed NASCAR prizes to award to the student leaders who had been nominated by their teachers.  And then,  I had one last surprise for ALL of them – their own NASCAR Unites blue arm band.  A small momento to help inspire them to start their own volunteer project, so they can be nominated for this award next year. 

Thank you again to Principal Coleman, all the teachers, staff and students.  I am so proud of you and look forward to keeping tabs on you all.

Janet Bolin

Friday, November 11, 2011

Read and Romp 2011!

What is Read and Romp? Read and Romp is the ultimate combination of learning and playing! Children participate in activities and games that give them the opportunity to become their favorite storybook characters.  During the year, Reach out and Read hosts Read and Romp fundraisers in various cities in the country.  On November 13, the Boston Read and Romp will take place. 

The event features 12 storybook themed activities stations, a meet and greet with Clifford creator Norman Bridwell, children’s author and illustrator of Judy Moody, Peter Reynolds, musical entertainment by Stacey Peasley  and much more! Children ages 2-10 are welcome to attend and children under 2 are free.  Tickets are $50 and all proceeds benefit Reach Out and Read.  If you can’t make the Boston Read and Romp, no worries!  Read and Romps are held in Denver, Co, Birmingham, AL,  San Diego, CA,  Columbia, SC and many other cities near you.  Be sure to Like Reach Out and Read’s facebook page to make sure that you don’t miss out on your area’s Read and Romp!

Ciji Dodds

Thursday, November 10, 2011


“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” -1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT)

Hairstyles change, jewelry is costly, and fashions differ. Yet magazines proclaim that these are the components needed to lead a “good and worthy” life. But the claims they make are not temporary, because every day a new style is added and skews the reader’s mind as to what is truly beautiful. Reality is, what God has created on the inside is the most beautiful.

At my church, Christ Fellowship, the women’s ministry made it our mission to show women that magazine articles and claims many change, but God’s Word is constant. It is an honor and a blessing to be on such a panel with empowering, incredible women that have teamed together to show the world that we’re not perfect, but our God is. Each woman on the panel was assigned a certain topic to cover from our magazine, Clarity.

Along with former Indianapolis Colts cheerleader (who, by the way, cheered at the Super Bowl!), Lauren Hollowell, we covered the topic of Divas, Villains, and Prima Donnas. We were able to speak out on the adversity we have faced and helped other young girls and women overcome the drama.

The night was filled with fellowship and friendship. It was truly an honor to be on the panel and be a light for God.

Jurnee Carr

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy presents, A Celebration of Reading!

The home is the child's first school, the parent is the child's first teacher, and reading is the child's first subject."

As Second Lady of the United States and then, as First Lady of the United States, Barbara Bush selected the promotion of literacy as her cause.  Beginning with Martha Washington, who promoted the cause of Revolutionary War Veterans, there is a longstanding tradition of First Ladies taking on a cause that is dear to their hearts and promoting it throughout their husbands’ presidencies.  Our current First Lady, Michelle Obama, continues this tradition by promoting her Lets Move campaign, which hopes to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation. 
As a literacy advocate, Former First Lady Barbara Bush has traveled throughout the country raising awareness and much needed funds to ensure that all Americans have access to the American Dream via literacy.  After seeing first hand the impact that literacy has on a family’s well being, she established The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.  The mission of her foundation is to support the development of family literacy programs, to break the intergenerational cycle of illiteracy, and establish literacy as a value in every American family.”  Through its National Grant Program, the foundation has donated over 40 million dollars to literacy organizations throughout the country. 
During the year, the foundation hosts numerous fundraisers called “A Celebration of Reading.”  November 7, marks the tenth anniversary of the Dallas, Texas, Celebration of Reading.  These events are major fundraisers that feature readings by authors and appearances by notable politicians and celebrities.  If you are interested in working with the foundation or if you are an organization that would like to receive funds from the foundation, I encourage you to checkout the foundation website:
I look forward to participating in the 2012 Maryland Celebration of Reading! Best,
Ciji Dodds
Miss International 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Great Restaurants in Texas

The journey continues for my husband and I to find some of the best restaurants.  Lately, here are some great dining spots we’ve visited and have rave reviews to share. 

Our trip to Texas never disappoints and always leaves us feeling like we need a week to detox, but its all worth it!  We’ve found two great spots in Texas and we share them with you.

Roanoke, TX has Babe’s restaurant.  You know this place is great when it’s the first stop immediately after the plane lands…and everyone you were just on the plane with is also in this restaurant, including Texas Motor Speedway owner, Bruton Smith.  The warmth of home cooking and friendly faces makes this a great spot for us, and afterwards there is a candy store next to it with homemade pies, fudge and other favorites.

We’ve also thoroughly enjoyed The Stockyards in Fort Worth where there is endless entertainment and our favorite steakhouse, H3.  Tableside guacamole and a wide variety of steaks are the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, or your first race win. (Congrats again to Trevor Bayne on your first NASCAR Nationwide Series win!)

I’ll share more great spots along our journey, but invite you to let me know some great restaurants we should check out.  We always love suggestions.

Janet Bolin

Monday, November 7, 2011

“Just a Little Heart Attack”

“Sorry to bother you, I think I may be having a little Heart Attack.” Can you imagine yourself saying this?  As I watched the American Heart Association’s video “Just a Little Heart Attack,” I could see how, as busy women, we could minimize something so big for the sake of making sure that those around us are taken care of.  The video features a busy mom getting her family ready for school and work.  Her morning is a blur, she is making sandwiches, drafting documents, doing laundry and all the while experiencing symptoms of heart attack.  But, she’s so busy that she doesn’t stop to acknowledge what her body is screaming at her until she finds herself on the ground.  The wisdom of her child literally saves her life as he tells her “Mom, I think you’re having a Heart Attack” and he pulls up the AHA website on her phone and shows her the symptoms.  

I can’t even pretend to know what is like to be a busy mom.  Sometimes I barely have the wherewithal to make sure I have lunch and clean socks, never mind another person. So I can only imagine the stresses of supporting a family while maintaining your health, which I think is the purpose of this video. To teach women to stop and take times for themselves and to listen to their bodies. The key part of the video for me was when she told the 911 operator, “Sorry to bother you, I think I may be having a little Heart Attack.” It made me realize how many of us think of our health ,not as a priority, but as a possible burden to someone else.  As she apologized for having a Heart Attack and for the inconvenience of her the importance of the Go Red For Women Campaign became clearer than ever: To educate women and empower women to be heart healthy.

So what are the major warning signs of a heart attack?
Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort.

But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
If you want to watch the video or learn more, check out this link:

Ciji Dodds

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Greater Washington Heart Walk

“Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.” The Mission of the American Heart Association speaks for itself.  Through its many events and initiatives, the American Heart Association raises funds and awareness in an effort to make sure that all Americans have the resources and tools to lead heart healthy lives. This year’s Greater Washington Heart Walk was no exception.  The participants rose to the occasion, raising 1.6 million dollars!  

I had the privilege of participating in the Walk and getting to know some of the participants.  One team in particular touched my heart.  They were called the “Monkays” and they were walking on behalf of their friend who they had lost to a heart attack.  He was only in his early thirties when it happened.  For them, it was a wake up call that encouraged them to lead healthier lives.  A lot of us associate Heart Disease with being older, but that simply isn’t the case.   Heart Disease affects people of all ages, it does not discriminate.  That is why organizations such as the AHA are important.  Their advocacy efforts have saved the lives of millions of Americans and that number will only increase as they continue to gain momentum. This is why International Pageant’s alliance with the AHA’s Go Red For Women Campaign is so important.   It presents an opportunity for all of us to get involved!

Ciji Dodds