Miss Texas' Outstanding Teen 2011 Blog
January 4, 2012
“It’s A Wonderful Life”
One of my favorite Christmas movies has always been the old standby “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I love its message—that life is a beautiful tapestry and each of our lives has a special purpose that impacts and is important to those around us. I can honestly say that during my tenure as Miss Texas Outstanding Teen I have begun to see the wisdom and truth in this message. It has caused me to stop and to think about how a kind word, a good deed or a thoughtful gesture can change the course of someone else’s day and perhaps, in some small measure, even their life! Thoughts and deeds are more powerful than I realized. This has been a great life lesson for me to learn!
October was a busy month for me! On October 9, I attended the Miss Plano Frisco Pageant and was thrilled to see many of my pageant sisters. I was especially proud to watch my big sister, Jordan, be crowned as Miss Frisco. The competition was fierce and I was glad that I didn’t have to compete! I was pleased to congratulate Kate Samuels, Miss Teen Plano, Christine Tang, Miss Plano and Autumn Hartt, Miss Teen Frisco. My pageant sisters are all so beautiful, smart and talented and I know that these ladies will represent their cities very well.
On October 16, I was fortunate enough to gather with my pageant family for food and refreshments at the home of Randy Pruett. His house is so adorable and decorated like something out of a design magazine. I am very jealous! (He even had a Halloween tree that was the cutest thing I have ever seen!) I enjoyed talking with Carol Fuller (I miss her!), Jan Mitchell, Randy, Ken Prachar and many others as we reminisced about the last pageant, my experience at MAOT and Kendall’s ongoing preparations for Miss America. I came away from the gathering feeling very thankful for the experience and love and guidance that these folks have provided to me and to so many other girls over the years. They are a treasure.
October 21 and 22 found me and Kendall at the Rockdale County Fair and Parade. It was such an exciting experience. First of all, we stayed in the cutest little cottages there! I simply loved the accommodations and couldn’t imagine that a small town like Rockdale would have such a great apartment type place for us to stay. ( I loved the free candy, chips and diet cokes they provided as well.) Friday night we went to eat with our host family and truly enjoyed their companionship. We also met the Rockdale County Fair Queen and her attendants. These girls were so nice and I enjoyed spending time with them!
As you know, I am a big animal lover so I had fun “talking” to the goats in their language! The best part was when I got Kendall to talk to them too! It was hilarious to see two girls in crowns making goat noises and Ms. Susan recording it for posterity!!
On Saturday, Kendall had to leave for the Sweet Potato Festival so my mom and I stayed. I rode in the parade and handed out prizes to the kids who raised the best heifers and steers. The funniest thing happened! My mom and I were sitting in the arena when a particularly feisty pair of heifers entered the holding pen. Turning their backsides to us, they proceeded to cover us in dirt and whatever was mixed in with that dirt (use your imagination!) We were covered from head to toe! The audience laughed and we laughed hysterically. The heifers were nonchalant about the entire incident and proceeded to stare at us with their long eyelashes and big brown eyes as if to say “you are nothing special, crown head”. Moral of the story: Don’t stand behind a sassy heifer unless you are willing to eat some dirt!
In November, my focused shifted a bit as I found myself in the midst of the Adrenaline dance competition from November 4-6 and the New York City Dance Alliance competition in Houston on November 19th and 20th. My Senior Performing Company at Next Step Dance in Frisco dominated the competition taking “Best of Show” in both competitions.
I also did some typical high school girl stuff such as attending both the Wylie and Plano West Homecomings. My mums were AWESOME and almost bigger than I was! I had a blast!
After a wonderful Thanksgiving, I gave a presentation on November 29 to 330 girls aged 5 through 12 at Abbett Elementary School. I spoke to them about “Reilly’s Rules” (go to www.reillyjohannsen.com if you want to see my video) and also donated books to their library which emphasize different careers that girls can pursue. It was great fun and some of the questions I got were hilarious! One little girl asked if I lived in a mansion like Cinderella since I was a princess. So adorable! I felt a little bit like a celebrity for a few minutes and that was very special.
I had the great pleasure of manning the phone bank on December 8 at the Radiothon to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I am always so honored to participate in these events as I know just how important the services rendered to sick children are. Whatever I can do to make a difference brings me great joy and satisfaction.
Perhaps the most exciting and fulfilling experience I have had in a long while was assisting with the homeless on December 24 at the Hyatt at the SoupMobile event. I was humbled and honored to escort over 500 homeless men, women and children into the Hyatt’s dining room where they were entertained by the Vocal Majority, received a delicious hot banquet meal and toys, clean clothes and other necessities. The sheer gratitude in their eyes, the smiles on their faces and their warm hugs as I greeted them was one of the best Christmas gifts that I received this year. I was especially happy to be able to present the gifts to the little children. I saw the light of Christmas in their eyes as they received Teddy Bears to hug. I was reminded of just how much I have and how thankful I am that I can share with those who are less fortunate.
My blog wouldn’t be complete without mention of my wonderful crazy family and our “Tacky Christmas” celebration. We all dress up in crazy ways to celebrate Christmas and we laugh so much! Jordan and I dressed up like reindeers…She was Prancer and I was Dancer (of course)! In the midst of all our silliness, we attended midnight services on Christmas Eve and thanked God for the best Christmas gift of all—His son, Jesus Christ. I feel very lucky and blessed to live in a country that permits each of us to worship freely as we believe and without retribution just because we have different beliefs. I know our country is facing some serious economic issues. I know America isn’t perfect but I also believe that we, as a nation united, will continue to try to solve whatever problems and inequities exist. And so, I am optimistic that 2012 is going to be a great year and things are going to be better.
I will be “twittering” from Miss America so watch for updates!
Love to all, Reilly
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October 16, 2011
I have so much to report since the last time I wrote! I will begin with a discussion of the wonderful experience that I had as a participant in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Florida in mid-August. I approached this adventure with a very positive outlook and attitude. I was well-prepared due to all the mock interviews and work sessions that I had undertaken with Lisa Spooner and the Dalzells prior to the Miss Texas Outstanding Teen Pageant. I continued these preparation sessions after I was crowned and with the help of David, Vicki and Lisa, participated in four more mock interviews before leaving for Orlando. Needless to say, my sister, Jordan who is my worst critic and biggest supporter, drilled me on current events so that I would be thoroughly prepared! Vicki, Kendall and I (and sometimes Jordan because she is great at picking out clothes and accessories) visited Shimmer and Larissa Maner, the owner, outfitted Kendall and me with gorgeous cocktail dresses for MAOT. I can’t tell you how many compliments that I received from contestants and other directors on my wardrobe! I was very proud to tell them that I had the greatest , most generous sponsors in Shimmer and Terry Costa. I also did a lot of shopping at Dillard’s. They sponsored all of my casual wear which included several dresses and tops that I wore to the special events. Once again, I have to say a huge “Thank You” to Dillard’s because I felt so beautiful and classy in all of the casual wear that they provided (…and yes…I did take 7 suitcases with me but what’s a girl to do?)
Prior to leaving for MAOT, I had a session with hairstylist Burt Grant and make-up artist Tressia Bond. Burt cut, colored and styled my hair and Tressia showed me make up tips to use during pageant week. They are so generous with their time and skill and really helped me feel like I was looking my best as I prepared for MAOT! I appreciate them so much!
There were so many others who helped me as I prepared…Larkin Page for fitness and Gwen Price for talent…to name a couple! I have been training with Larkin for three years and he has always encouraged me to do and to be my best. Gwen choreographed a beautiful lyrical dance for me and helped me to perfect my technique. I enjoyed working with her so much. And of course, I have to give a “shout out” to Ed Huckfeldt and to Danny Wright, my Colleyville pageant directors. Without them, I would not have been as prepared and as focused as I was at the time of the Miss Texas Outstanding Teen Pageant and MAOT. They were always there for me, helping me and pushing me and I will always love them for that. And yes, Ed…you were right about the song for talent!!
With that background, I will say that when I boarded the plane for Orlando, I was excited but also calm on the inside. I knew that I was ready and well-prepared and I was determined to do my best to represent Texas in a way that would make all of you proud. I adopted my PaPa’s philosophy which is to “Let go and Let God”. I believed that if I was supposed to become the next Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, it would happen. I had done all that I could in terms of preparation and my goal for the week at MAOT was to relax, soak everything in, to make friends and to let God’s light shine through me. I did my best and although I would have loved to be crowned as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, I am thrilled to be at home and representing the State of Texas. I feel so blessed!
Since returning home, I have been busy with many exciting appearances. I signed autographs at the Selena Gomez concert and it was so much fun to see the wonder in all the little girls’ eyes as they saw the Miss Texas Outstanding Teen crown! I heard that Justin Bieber was going to be in the audience and believe me, I looked for him without success! (Not that I think he is cute or anything!)
Kendall and I traveled to Austin for a Dillard’s event which was great fun! I was the emcee for the East Texas pageant. At that pageant, I learned that I am terrible at reading the biographies of the judges aloud to the audience! I had to reassure the audience that I really can read even if it didn’t seem so by my performance! I redeemed myself later in the evening by performing my imitations of one of our dance coaches at MAOT and doing my dog barking imitation (I think you had to be there for this to make sense but it really was funny!)
Kendall and I rode in the State Fair of Texas opening day parade and spent the day at the Fair. It was great fun to ride on the float through the streets of downtown Dallas and then to meet people who were attending the fair that day. A special thanks to Bruce Wallace and to Jim and Sherry Hanson because they spend so much time coordinating all of the Miss Texas appearances and are there every day to assist. They are the greatest!
Next weekend I am off to the Rockdale Fair where I am going to sing the Star Spangled Banner at the rodeo and get my picture taken with all the prize winning animals! I am really excited about this as I know it is going to be a blast and I am honored to be included!
In addition to my Miss Texas Outstanding Teen duties, I am busily studying at Plano West and having to do way too much homework! I am still dancing competitively so that involves at least 15 hours per week of rehearsal. Needless to say, I am busy but loving every minute of it!
Love to all, Reilly
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September 6, 2011
“Homecoming-A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”
Since being crowned as Texas Outstanding Teen, my life has been a whirlwind of activity. When I wasn’t dancing to prepare for talent, I was involved in mock interviews or researching current events! In addition, I continued to work out with Larkin, to eat “healthy” and of course, to shop for my wardrobe for Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. It was all so much fun and I loved every minute of it!
On August 7, I was so honored that so many friends and pageant sisters attended my “Homecoming” at Colleyville Center. The theme was “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and my directors, Ed Huckfeldt and Danny Wright, and my sister, Jordan Johannsen, really went all out to make this an event that I will never forget! There were so many others who played major roles as well…MPFO (thank you, David), the Miss Lubbock Organization (thank you, Debbie) and Carol Fuller who so generously donated money to help pay for the event. I can’t express how much I appreciate this support. Ed and Carly purchased the flowers and Carly made all of the table arrangements. The Miss Irving Organization (thank you, Alex, and the Irving Board) provided the “candy bar” while Danny was able to get the catering and the cake donated (special thanks to Sweet Memories Catering for all Occasions and Opulent Cakes). My Lone Star Princesses recorded “good luck” wishes for me and Debbie and Brittney Couch compiled them into a wonderful video. One of the highlights for me was the special song “Reilly’s Flight” written for me and performed by Danny Wright. That was a total surprise and I was so moved by his thoughtfulness! Special thanks also to the Mayor of Colleyville for presenting me with the Key to the City and to Susan Shuler, Vicki Slaton and Ed Huckfeldt for obtaining the flags and the proclamations! I felt very important and cherish these mementoes. Likewise, my special thanks to Barry Hall for assisting with the presentation of the proclamations and also to Susan Shuler and Carly Gill for reading all those complicated “heretofore” type statements! I felt very special (and grateful that I didn’t have to say all those words!)
Likewise, I appreciated and will always cherish the kind words from all of my directors—Joe Price, Scott Clayton, Alex Martin, Amy Conway and Ed Huckfeldt. The support and confidence that Vicki Slaton and David Vogel expressed in me meant so much since they had been working alongside me to prepare for MAOT for several weeks and knew the details of all we had done together. Kendall Morris, my Miss Texas 2011, was also a morale booster and moral support for me. Having been at MAOT herself, Kendall talked to me about what to expect and I felt well prepared as a result. We shared many good times together and I know there will be many more. My pageant sisters, Emily Falkenberg, Kara Terry and Jessica Powell, reminded me of the great times we shared together during the Miss Texas Pageant and made me smile! And for all of you who attended, I want to thank you very much. Just seeing you all there meant so much to me and gave me such a surge of confidence as I got my mental mind set ready for Orlando.
Lastly, I must thank my family and most especially, my sister Jordan. She was so instrumental in putting the Homecoming together but even more than that, she was always there for me and with me as I prepared for MAOT. She worked with me on interview and modeling. She chauffeured me everywhere. She shopped with me. She cheered for me when I was down and kicked me when I needed to work harder. She is my big sister, my role model and my best friend. Just as I have adored her since I was a little girl, I still want to be just like her when I grow up! I love you, sissy.
My heartfelt thanks to the Miss Texas Pageant, Inc. and to my pageant family for all of your support. I love and appreciate you all.
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July 11, 2011
“A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”
I am a Cinderella aficionado. I have Cinderella paraphernalia of all sorts (including her autograph). I believe in the proverbial glass slipper because it symbolizes the realization of one’s dreams. On July 1, 2011, I realized one of my dreams and I slid my foot into that “glass slipper” when I heard my name called as Miss Texas’ Outstanding Teen 2011. I still have to pinch myself to see if I am dreaming!
The first week of my reign was a whirlwind of activity. After my crowning on July 1, I met with the new Miss Texas Kendall Morris and the Executive Directors for a pizza party! Now that was fun after not eating pizza for months. I had forgotten just how yummy it is! The next morning, we had the official contract signing and then I had to leave for dance competition in New York City. When I returned on Thursday, David Vogel, Vicki Slaton and I participated in the MAOT lottery. My placement is perfect! I have interview on Tuesday morning, Fitness on Tuesday night, Talent on Wednesday and Evening Gown and Onstage Question on Thursday. Although the time is short, I am continuing to work diligently on interview, talent and fitness to represent Texas to the best of my ability.
On Saturday, Kendall, David, Vicki, Mike and I traveled to San Antonio for the Miss San Antonio pageant. Kendall was one of the emcees of the event and I helped out as needed. Both of us performed our talent and enjoyed meeting the contestants. Oh, and we had the nicest hotel suite ever. (David and Vicki told us not to get used to this kind of luxury but it really was great!) It was a wonderful time spent together.
Today Kendall and I had a day long photo shoot with Zac Grimaldo. He took amazing pictures for our crown shots and headshots. We did a lot of really fun and creative pictures. The funniest of all was our realization that I did an entire photo segment with my dress on wrong side out! Oh, well…that’s so Reilly.
This week will be filled with meetings and workouts, an appearance for the Empowered Woman seminar in Colleyville, talent rehearsals and interview training. In addition, Kendall and I, along with our Executive Directors, are going to the Miss Arkansas pageant. I am looking forward to this opportunity to appear as Texas’ representative.
And finally, I must come full circle and explain my obsession with all things Cinderella. To some the story’s impact lies in the fairytale ending where Prince Charming suddenly appears and rescues Cinderella. To me, that isn’t the important part of the story. Cinderella is my favorite Disney princess because she doesn’t need to be rescued by Prince Charming or by anyone else. She is kind in the face of cruelty, forgiving toward those who don’t deserve her forgiveness, optimistic even though her circumstances are undesirable and a dreamer when there seems little chance that her dreams will come true. Cinderella is a strong woman and I try to imitate those qualities. I don’t always succeed…but I keep trying.
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