Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Wonderful World of Disney

Wondering why you haven’t heard from me in a while? I have been unleashing my “inner kid” at the happiest place on Earth, also known as Disney World! Every year, my family takes a trip to Orlando, Florida for the 14 and under travel baseball team National Championship at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. Not only do we get to visit attractions at one of the largest baseball stadiums in Florida, interact with former major league baseball players, and meet legendary coaches, but we are also able to visit our favorite vacation spot!

This year, we visited a few places we have not been to in several years. On our first day, we learned about the magic of making movies at Universal Studios. A few of our favorite attractions were Shrek 4D, complete with moving seats! We also got to experience what it would be like to be outside during a category 5 tornado in the “Twister” attraction.

My absolute favorite attraction was the Men in Black roller coaster. The indoor roller coaster featured lots of twists and turns…all in complete darkness! We got to meet Frank the pug, the talking dog featured in the movies, and watch him interact with his trainers while learning new tricks!

We also spent a day at Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios’ high-thrill theme parks! Each area of the park is designed after a specific movie, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss’s “Seussland”. I have always loved Dr. Seuss, so naturally, the colorful world of Dr. Seuss was definitely one of my favorite places to see!

I may be a college student now, but I will never be too old for One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish!

Poseidon’s Fury felt like we were really walking through the ruins of Greece!

We always make a trip to the Lego store at Downtown Disney. My brothers always like to make lego racecars and race them with other Lego fans. 

On our last night at Disney, we visited Chef Mickeys at Disney’s Contemporary hotel. During our Disney themed dinner, all of our favorite characters visited our table for a meet and greet. I always look forward to seeing Minnie Mouse, my all-time favorite Disney character. If you ever have the chance to visit Disney World, make sure to schedule a character dinner!

Visiting Disney World is always the perfect way to spend time with my family while having the time of our lives!

Caroline Crowley

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Baan Chang Elephant Sanctuary

While volunteering in Thailand, we were expected to work 9-5 during the week, but on the weekends, we were free to do what we pleased. I usually like to stay off the beaten path where crowds of tourists aren't found but one major “touristy” attraction I just had to was the elephant park. There are many different elephant parks to see in Thailand but many of them do not treat the elephants well. After a few days of research, I found an elephant sanctuary that had excellent reviews and history of well-kept animals. When we arrived, a pasture full of big beautiful elephants and joyful tour guides greeted us. I was so taken back by the size of them and began wondering if riding them through the jungle was really a good idea.

After a few riding lessons I was feeling much more comfortable with the elephants. I preferred riding the elders because I thought they might be more reliable when going outside the barriers of the park. The young baby elephants were rambunctious and naughty. They liked to stray away from the heard, steal bananas from the tour guide baskets, and give unexpected suction-cup like kisses on the neck.

After lunch, we began our trek into the Chiang Mai Mountain jungle.  Right when we were all mounted on our elephants and ready to go, it started pouring down rain. If anyone is familiar with the Thailand rain, you know it comes and goes unpredictably. You just have to learn go get a little wet. So, here I am, on an elephant’s back, with my best friend, in the rain, hanging on for dear life as we head up a mountain trail thick with greenery. What a fabulous moment. I will never forget how thankful we were when the rain stopped and the sun came out and warmed our shivering bodies. The rest of the walk was absolutely beautiful, stopping at scenic views to look out over the mountains.

After our walk was over, we stopped at a small pond to let the elephants cool down. I even got to join my elephant in the water and give her a bath! I climbed on her back and poured water all over her head and body. She flapped her ears with joy. I felt such a beautiful connection with my elephant and was so thankful for this day. I will always remember this experience and the enlightenment it has brought into my heart.

All my love and gratitude, 

Krista Wanous
Miss International 2012 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Princess Party!

Please allow me to introduce you to Princess Tori, the fairest princess of all! And, all of the other little princesses and one brave firefighter who joined me for cookies and lemonade!

Princess Tori, who happens to be Becky’s adorable niece!

The gowns for the lovely young ladies were supplied by Shari, who was also so very generous with her talent and her studio. We posed for photos and it was hilarious trying to get all the little faces smiling and looking in one direction…you should have seen the cameras, phones, and squeaky toys getting busy!

Princess Party!

Burn survivor Lyle Sathoff joined in on the fun, as well as, some of the race track buffs who were hanging around after the coffee hour hosted by the Thoresons. Lyle’s car was even in the mall, and we captured a couple photos before it was time to go home.

With Connie 

Lyle and his race car 

With Lyle and Tyler

My sincere appreciation again, to all the wonderful people and little princesses who made our visit to Fairmont such a memorable experience!

All my best,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cyber Etiquette

As my reign draws nearer to an end, I am constantly thinking of valuable lessons to pass on to the next Miss Teen International and young ladies, in general. The most valuable lesson I have learned in life to always act like a queen. When you wear a crown, all eyes are on you! It is important that as a role model, you set a positive example through your every action.

Although you may not realize it, your social media accounts often provide a first impression to others. Not only do you represent the International Pageants, but you also represent your family, title, and platform. Your language and photo choices reflect your morals and values. Social media accounts can provide an excellent way to market yourself and your platform, raise awareness about issues that are important to you, and even meet queens and others that are active with your platform. Facebook has been a lifesaver for me this year, because I am able to connect with people all over the world!

However, social media accounts can also be negative and even dangerous. As attractive and intelligent young women, it is important to not only set a positive example, but also, to keep yourself safe! You should be conscious about your choice of words and especially careful of the photos you post. Also, it is very important to monitor the amount of information you share about yourself. You may not realize it, but several types of phones and social media accounts sync to show your exact location. Make sure that you have these settings turned off at all times in order to keep yourself safe. Also, you should never accept a friend request from someone that you do not know. It is so simple to click ‘accept’ out of habit, but one click can be very dangerous!

I am confident that you all will make, as my mom says, “smart choices”. I encourage you to utilize all of the wonderful technology that is accessible to you. Simply remember to always present yourself as a classy woman, whether in person or via a computer!

Caroline Crowley

Friday, June 21, 2013

Minnesota Institute of Art Gala- Summer After Party

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Minnesota Institute of Arts Gala After Party. A time for professionals to mingle, network, and enjoy great music.

Joined by my Minnesota International sister, Charity Bess, we worked the crowd meeting many interesting artist, art supporters, and MIA donors.

The highlight of the evening was getting to see two well-known Minnesota bands, Doom Tree and Morris Day.  Charity, being a few years older than I, was really excited about seeing Morris Day.  Even though I wasn’t very familiar with Morris Day before their performance, I am definitely a big fan now! Every one of the guests was grooving to their funky beat. 

It was such a fun evening and I was so proud to support a wonderful place like the MIA. The MIA has hosted numerous gallery shows and fundraisers for Free Arts Minnesota, my favorite! So, it was my pleasure to be able to give back to this Institute. 

“Inspiring wonder through the power of art.”

Krista Wanous
Miss International 2012 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fairmont Raceway

Nothing says summer like a night at the race track in rural Southern Minnesota! It was my pleasure to accept the invitation from Becky and Al Thoreson to join them at the exciting Fairmont Raceway. Some of you may recognize Becky’s name, as she was Miss Minnesota International 2006 and has been assisting me since last October in too many ways to count.

With Lyle, Connor, and Joseph at Fairmont Raceway

The Thoresons have taken on the promotion and operation of the track, and because Becky is so familiar with my passion to connect the burn community, she went above and beyond to make this a weekend full of appearance opportunities and surprises! Starting with a radio interview taped to promote the appearance and welcoming listeners to the track for a special event honoring driver Lyle Sathoff who is also a burn survivor, local firefighters, and highlighting the Phoenix Society as the community partner for a night at the race track.

Upon arrival into Fairmont, a town of about 10,000 less than 10 miles from the Iowa border, we were escorted on a tour and introduced to some wonderful people. We met Doug the local Fire Chief, then a local firefighter named Ellen, who would later help me suit up in full fire gear. Chad is a local business owner who recently opened the doors to his new hardware store, and Kazia is about to open her new coffee shop just down the hall. As a business owner myself, I understand both the excitement and trepidation, and I want to wish them both much success in their new ventures.

With Doug Borchardt, Fire Chief, City of Fairmont 

Ellen and I discussed the burn community 

Chad is planning for the Grand Opening of his second store 

Kazia is just days away from her Grand Opening as well 

Kazia’s niece Sophie was helping out

Nancy is the fabulous manager of Five Lakes Centre and she was my guide for the evening. Her daughter Shari, who owns a photo studio within the mall not only introduced me to her race car driver boyfriend Ben, but she made the next morning magical for some lucky little princesses, which you will read about a little later! Before departing the mall we visited with Duffy who kept an eye on things, and Jack who was thrilled to learn about the International Pageant’s commitment to fitness and the “Go Red” campaign.

With Shari and Ben  

Security Guard Eugene, aka Duffy 

With fitness expert Jack

The afternoon held several interviews; three taped with Royce - Host on KBEW Radio, one taped with Rod – Host on KSUM and KFMC Radio, and a shared print interview focusing on burn survivors with Lyle Sathoff, Justin Haukoos and me, for the Sentinel newspaper written by Jenn Brookens.

During the interview with Royce 

Taping the interview with Rod

Following our interview; Lyle, me, Justin and Jenn

After an early dinner with Justin and Lyle, we were surprised with a ride to the racetrack inside a big red fire truck from the Ceylon Fire Department. Our driver was Eric, who gave Justin free reign with the horn! Once we arrived at the track Lyle and I went to work greeting spectators in front of his race car, which is decked out with the Phoenix Society logo, and signing autographs.

Justin, Eric, Lyle and me having too much fun! 

Ellen assisted me with a new look! 

Complete with a fire hose, courtesy the Ceylon Fire Department! 

Meet & Greet 

Autograph table

Much to my husband’s surprise, he was invited to drive car #8 into the pit, and once he was able to squeeze inside he enjoyed the experience. By this time, the crowds were filling the stands and the sun was preparing to set. Following a touching dedication acknowledging the burn community and the singing of the national anthem, the cars took to the track and I was honored with the duty of waving the first green flag of the night.

My husband the race car driver! 

A gift from one of the tracks drivers and sponsors 

Burn Survivor who shared his story 

Starting the race…too cool! 

They’re off!

It was a blast watching the cars race around the track, they were noisy, kicked up dust, and the fans soaked it all in! I conducted a live interview during the hot laps and watched the early heats from the VIP booth. The final races I watched from a tower near the finish line and was treated to an ATV ride around the pits before the night was done.  It was fun to see the “family affair” that takes place in order to support the racers in this sport.

With Al Thoreson

My last official activity for the night was to hand out the trophies, congratulate the winners, and pose for photos. And, my last unofficial activity for the night was to climb into both Ben and Lyle’s race cars…what a treat!


What a night!

Thank you to Becky and Al for a spectacular event, which raised $500 for the Phoenix Society for burn survivors and brought awareness about burn survivors, firefighters, and an organization near and dear to my heart!

With much appreciation,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012