Live With Intention

Living in Las Vegas, I have done a lot of reflecting this last week, while also being so grateful that I and all of my friends are safe. I am so grateful that every person that I actually know that was in attendance at the Route 91 Festival made it out physically unharmed. Mentally is a whole different story, and one that I hope they will all heal from over time. I can only hope to never experience what they have, and was so filled with love and gratitude for everyone that reached out to make sure I was safe or to let me know how happy they were that I was safe.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I will bend over backwards for those that I consider true friends, and that includes any time I have a chance to spend time with them. So often over the years, and sadly even more often in the last year, I have heard, wow that’s a long way to go when I am willing to go an hour or two out of my way during my travels if it means being able to see a friend, or traveling 4 hours to an event just because a friend is holding it. This last week? That is exactly why I am willing to go an hour or two, and yes even 4 at times, out of my way to see my friends. There are now 58 innocent people that no longer have that option. There are now friends and family of 58 people that no longer have that option in order to see that one person. Think about that. What if one of those 58 people was your loved one that you could no longer spend time with??? What if you were one of those 58 and you could no longer physically spend time with your loved ones??

I believe in living my life without regret because even if you make a bad decision, it was what you wanted in that moment, so why regret it? You’ve learned from it, now take that lesson and move on. Part of that for me is taking advantage of as many opportunities as are presented to me as I can – whether to do something, go somewhere or to spend time with friends whether I see them once every few years, once a year, or all the time.

We get so caught up in our “busy lives” that so many often forget to put not only themselves, but their loved ones first. Be the one that lets your friends know, not guess, but know that they are special to you. Do you know how that makes them feel??? I do because they tell me how it makes them feel when I go out of my way to spend time with them. We are all busy. It just depends on what you do about it. Do you let it stop you? Or do you value your time with your loved ones more because of it?

I learned from a very early, too early, age just how short life is. Growing up in the world of neuromuscular diseases will do that. When you watch kids that are your age die from complications of their illnesses, you understand just how precious the time is that you get to spend with your friends and family, and you learn not to let an opportunity go by to spend time with them. When you lose both of your younger brothers at early adult ages  you are reminded of that lesson you learned so young.

I do not want anyone living in fear of death, it happens to all of us. What I want us all to start doing is living our lives with intention and with a purpose other than just getting by in life and working non-stop. Believe me, I work for myself, I am the picture of working way too much BUT I also take the time for my friends at every opportunity that I can. Am I perfect, heck no, nobody is. But if we all strive to spend more time with those that make us smile, instead of focusing only on work and making money, then the world will start to be a much happier place, not only because you are happier and smiling more, but also those that you are spending time with will be the same.

Every person is in our life for a reason whether it’s for a short time or long term. Are you taking the time to enjoy them and learn from them? Or are you taking for granted that they will always be there?

Lasting Effects

It has been about a year and a half since I was hit by the baseball bat that I talk about here. To this day, my orbital rim is still broken which effects my day to day life. I am still limited on what activities I can do, what I can eat, how long I can talk and smile, etc but I also have a Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of the impact. I mostly have it under control with natural supplements, but it definitely makes itself known when I overdo it. This all could have been prevented if MLB required netting from dugout to dugout in every stadium. Chase Field has very quietly added this netting recently. The funding was approved well before my incident, however it was only recently put up, and most likely saved someone from injury at a recent game where a bat went flying INTO the net.

MLB needs to take a more active role in fan safety. A woman nearly died last weekend in front of her son due to injuries from a broken bat. There is no reason that needs to happen. What will it take for MLB to open their eyes and finally do something??? I sincerely hope that it does not take a person dying at a game from a bat injury for them to finally wake up.

I tell my story everywhere I go, not because I want people to stop going to games, but because most do not understand the risks they are taking depending on where they sit and very very few know of the waiver on your ticket and almost all that I speak to think that the team is responsible when these incidents occur. Nearly every person I speak to thinks the team took care of my costs, and are appalled when they learn of my experiences. If baseball is the national past time, then let’s make it safer for all of the fans to attend. I am so tired of those that blame myself and other victims for our injuries because “we should have been paying more attention to the game.” There is no time to react to something like a flying bat, and reacting could actually cause far worse injuries depending on where you end up hit.

I am so grateful that I am alive and that I did not lose my vision, but that may not be the case for the next person. They may not simply be inconvenienced by the injuries that they suffer from, as I am. When I go out to dinner with friends, I have to explain why I can’t eat that delicious salad or juicy steak. When we go to Disney or anywhere else with rides, I have to sit back and wait while my friends all go on the ride, or run the 1/2 marathon or any other number of things, in any number of places because it will cause me too much pain, and more damage, to partake in them. I am grateful though that I am merely “inconvenienced” by these things and that hopefully, although years down the road, in the future I will no longer be inconvenienced because I chose to go to a baseball game with friends.

Please share both my original story and this one so that we can spread the word and hopefully get changes made so that people can enjoy baseball without worrying about dying, just because they choose to sit close to the field. I know that there are those that don’t agree because they feel the net will hinder their enjoyment of the game, but I like to think that if it happened to them, or someone close to them, they would change their mind real quick. This is about ADDING enjoyment back to the game, rather than taking it away.

 

New Year’s Update!

Happy new year! I figured it was time for an update! Unfortunately my orbital rim is still very much broken, so I am still limited on what I can eat and what activities I can do. No workouts for me yet and certainly no running!! What that means is the two 1/2 marathons that I am registered for, I will be walking instead of running. At least I can walk them though, I just hope that I can walk fast enough to stay ahead of the sweep team!

On a more positive note, I have decided to compete one more time. Details on my time, how to join me at nationals or how to cheer me on will be coming once I’m able to raise the entry fee and become an official contestant. I can’t wait to start working my title, so any help you can give me towards the entry fee and other expenses, is MUCH appreciated! I think that it will be a great opportunity for me to inspire others that aren’t able to workout for whatever reason and show them that they too can compete, or do anything else that they wish to!

I walked in two Avon Walks for Breast Cancer last year with Affiliate Marketers Give Back, and am joining them for one this year as well as walking a second one with my own team! If you’d like to join me in Houston, or donate, please click here. To donate or join us in Santa Barbara, please click here!

I’m also looking for donations because I chose to register for the Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon Pixie Dust Challenge through the Kellsie’s Hope Foundation, which means that I have to raise at least $1000 in order to run! Kellsie’s Hope Foundation benefits children with cancer and you can donate here.

I will be organizing 3 online auctions to benefit each of these events, so if you’re a business and would like to donate items or services to be auctioned, please contact me here.

I’ve got a very busy year ahead and that’s before I’ve even started promoting a title or trying to find appearances and activities to attend and volunteer at specifically with it!

It’s Time for a Change

On September 3, 2013, I joined a couple girlfriends for what was supposed to be a fun girls’ night out at the Arizona Diamondbacks game against the Toronto Blue Jays. When we saw where our seats were, we were all excited because we thought that they were great seats! You see, we were seated just 12 rows back in the lower deck directly behind the Diamondbacks dug out. Little did we know how dangerous those seats could actually be, and how quickly our girls’ night out was going to turn bad.

In just the second inning of the game, Edward Encarnacion was up to bat, hit the ball, then let his bat go flying into the stands… right into my eye in the 12th row. I was immediately tended to by Diamondbacks staff (as shown in the pic available by clicking here) and quickly found myself in an ambulance headed to the ER. Upon examination I was told that I would need a lot of stitches and that I had a broken orbital rim, in addition to of course shattered glasses. I had no clue how much those words were going to change my life.

At the ER after being hit by a thrown bat at the Sept 2nd Arizona Diamondbacks vs Toronto Blue Jays baseball game.

This is prior to them stitching me up in the ER.

What most people are not aware of is that once you enter a baseball stadium, you have accepted ALL responsibility for anything that happens to you as a result of being there. You didn’t know that?? You mean, you, like the majority of those that attend a professional baseball game (myself included) have never read the miniscule print on the back of your ticket?! Click here for a blown up image that it is actually readable, or you can keep reading because here is the text from the back of the ticket.

“WARNING: The holder of this ticket (“Holder”) assumes all risk, danger and injury incident to attendance at the event, whether occurring prior to, at any time during, or after a baseball game (including, but not limited to, the danger of batted balls or thrown bats, balls or other items, and injuries caused, in whole or part, by third parties arising therefrom), and agrees that no persons or entities (including, but not limited to, Major League Baseball, its affiliates (each an “MLB Entity”), its member clubs, and their respective agents and/or players) are liable for any injury to Holder resulting from such causes and releases and holds harmless such persons and entities. Batted balls or thrown balls, bats, and other objects can enter spectator areas with great force. The risk of injury cannot be avoided completely if Holder attends the games. If holder would like to lessen the risk, the Arizona Diamondbacks (“Club”) will exchange this ticket for a ticket located in the upper deck, or in the event of a sellout, will refund Holder the face value of this ticket at any time before the first pitch is thrown. The use of abusive language, interference with play (including throwing objects in the stands or onto the field), entry to the playing field, and drunken or disorderly behavior are prohibited. Violators are subject to ejection and/or arrest.”

SO, what that means, is that even though I have no health insurance because I am a self-employed, single, homeschooling mom,  and rarely have to go to a doctor, I am now responsible for all medical bills incurred as a result of a baseball player that chose not to hold onto his bat, which means that I am going into debt because I chose to attend a baseball game. And the bat hit me with such force, even 12 rows back in the stands, that I have a deep and bad break in my orbital rim, and it then bounced back and to the right in order to bruise another spectator behind me.

My glasses after being hit by a thrown bat at the Sept 2nd Arizona Diamondbacks vs Toronto Blue Jays baseball game.

Thankfully the glass all stayed in the frame.

~A break so bad, that 6 weeks later I am still forced to cancel prior commitments due to the pain and swelling that occurs after just a couple hours on my feet, or even just being out of the house. For those of you that followed me last year as Ms. Arizona US Universal 2013, or know me personally, you know that not only does my word mean everything to me, but I am also a VERY active person, that cannot be active at this time.

~A break that may require surgery, but that means finding the money to see the specialist for follow up, in addition to the CT Scan they will have to do in order to check on the healing progress and determine if there’s a need for surgery.

~A break that requires me to eat only the softest of foods that I can take small bites of, and to limit my walking and various movement because of the fact that a broken bone in your face is irritated by just about everything you do.

~A break that, due to it’s location, does not allow me to comfortably wear my glasses, which means I have limited vision unless I choose to be in pain and wear my glasses anyways. I also experience floating flashes of light out of the corner of my eye due to the injury as the day goes on.

~A break that could cause permanent damage.

This is considered a normal and acceptable risk that you assume by attending a professional baseball game?? As I have been told over and over again the last few weeks, we teach our children in Little League that it is never acceptable to throw a bat, and depending on the league, they will be benched for the rest of the game, and possibly future games. So why is it that on the professional level, where the bats are being swung by much stronger men, therefore with much greater potential for damage, it is acceptable and NOT punished when a bat is thrown? You can Google thrown bats and find many instances, and even video, of bats going into the stands at various games. I found 3 instances in a very quick search, in the last couple months for this player alone, not including the one that hit me.

Now, let me share with you the SECOND release that you are agreeing to by entering a stadium, which is the reason that I had to link to the photo of ME above, instead of including the picture itself. I refuse to pay to use a photo of myself, that others are using to make money off of my pain and suffering.

“IMPORTANT: By use of this ticket, Holder agrees that: (a) he or she shall not transmit or aid in transmitting any information about the game to which it grants admission, including but not limited to any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction, or other information concerning the game (the “Game Information”); (b) Club is the exclusive owner of all copyrights and other proprietary rights in the game and Game information; (c) Holder’s name, likeness, and voice taken in connection with the game may be used in any broadcast, photograph, video and/or sound recording taken in connection with the game for all purposes by Club or Club’s affiliates, sponsors, corporate partners and broadcast or media partners; (d) this ticket may not be used for any advertising, promotion (including contests or sweepstakes), or other commercial purposes without the express written consent of Club; and (e) no resale of this ticket is permitted (i) via the internet or any other interactive media, except, if applicable through the official websites of Club (www.dbacks.com) or Major League Baseball (www.mlb.com), or through another website operated or expressly designated by Club or an MLB entity, and (iii) if prohibited by any applicable federal, state or local law or regulation. The license granted by this ticket is revocable and may be terminated by Club at any time.”

SO, not only are you responsible for your own medical bills if something happens to you, like it did to me, BUT they also own all rights to any photos and/or video that are taken of said incident, and they may use said photos or video in any way that they wish to. I have heard of my photo (linked to above) being circulated far and wide that night. I was being told by friends that they had even seen me on the news in various parts of Canada, since it was a Toronto player who threw their bat.

When things like this happen in other professional sports, there is often an immediate action taken to try to prevent them from happening in the future, but yet nothing is done in baseball even after the same thing happens many times. Why is that???

Here is what I feel needs to change within Major League Baseball, so that people may go back to enjoying the games with the NORMAL and ACCEPTABLE risks of watching for foul balls. Personally, the number of stories that I’ve read about children dying from being hit by a foul ball makes this unacceptable to me as well, but I understand that it is part of the tradition of the game, and one of the things that many people look forward to when attending a game.

1. I think that rules need to be changed so that players are fined, or face other equally severe consequences, for throwing bats. If the majority are able to keep them from flying into the stands, why can’t all of them??

2. I feel that there needs to be netting, or a short plexiglass, put in the area behind the dugouts where thrown bats are most likely to occur. This happened so quickly that by the time ANYONE around me saw it coming, it was already hitting me. SOMETHING needs to be done to try to prevent this from happening to other people. This would be a minimal expense for the clubs to incur in order to show their fans that they care about their safety and want to minimize some of the risks.

I don’t think that I am asking for anything that would take the fun out of the game, but would actually BRING it back! I was sitting in the seats that radio stations give away in on air contests, that people with VIPs in town would purchase to show off.

All I keep thinking is how lucky I am to still have my eyesight, and that if it had hit one of the two small children just two rows in front of me, their family would have been attending a funeral. This is a very serious matter, and one that needs to be addressed quickly.

Please feel free to share this post with your friends, family and the world. My goal is not to stop people from attending baseball games, but to educate them on the choices they are making when selecting their seats, and the current risks associated with those seats. I also truly believe that the above changes need to be made, but they won’t be unless enough people stand with me to make our voices heard!

ADDED NOTE: I have spoken to a few attorneys, and did have one send a letter to the Arizona Diamondbacks on my behalf. Because the teams are so well protected, they do not carry medical liability insurance on the stadium. There have been many that have tried to take action against teams in the past, including when death has occurred, and the courts and juries always take the side of the teams. I was only looking to get my medical paid for, and the response was no.

Our Road Trip to Moore, OK

Last weekend we took a road trip to Moore, OK to deliver the bears that our pageant sisters had collected.  While we were there we were given a tour of some of the areas hit by the tornadoes, stopped by and donated to a pet adoption event for displaced animals and had an incredible brainstorming session about how we could help with the upcoming event on July 25th.  The biggest message that we wanted to convey through all of this is that even though the media is no longer there, that does not mean that Moore and the other affected cities do not need our help.  The problem is still VERY real, and there is a very long road ahead for these families and communities to rebuild and get back to “normal.”

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Memorial Day

DogTags

This weekend I hope that you took a moment to stop and reflect on, and teach your kids about, what Memorial Day is.

I am proud to say that I served our country.  I am also very proud of the fact that many people that I went to high school with have done the same thing, and some are even still serving now.

I was the petite little thing that everyone thought was crazy when I made the decision to go into the Army Reserves.  Nobody could believe that the girly girl that worked at Victoria Secret Beauty was actually going to go off to basic training and become a soldier.  Not only did I GO to basic training, I had higher PT scores than most of the others I was there with.  As we were nearing graduation, I’ll never forget the group of older male soldiers that came over to me and congratulated me on making it through because they never expected me to.  You see, I was the 5’3, 105 pound girl that first showed up with my fake nails on, I had my white cotton as required, but you better believe it came from Victoria Secret, and for body wash and lotion I managed to get away with Victoria Secret’s old Azurine scent because it was a very fresh and clean smell. [Read more…]

May 13, 2002

On May 13, 2002, my family experienced the first of our great losses.  My 21 year old brother, the youngest of the 3 of us, would be taken from us as a result of injuries he sustained from a car accident.  Danny had just finished his first semester in the Dramatic Writing program at NYU, and was on his way to Baltimore, with his girlfriend and her kids.  There was a torrential downpour, and they should have waited, but chose not to.  While on the New Jersey Turnpike, they were going too fast for the conditions, and hydroplaned hitting another car.  The force was so great that it caused Dan’s wheelchair to turn 180 degrees, and he was then ejected through the back window.  He was conscious when they took him to the hospital, and it all went downhill from there.

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Found this on the web

Last night I did a google search on my name, just to see what was out there. I found a post I made on a site that had an email address for a site that I didn’t even remember ever owning, let alone developing. My mom put the domain into Archive.org and not only did I own the domain way back when, but it was a site for parents that had children with disabilities or that had lost children. This was my about page back in 2002 when I built the site.


About Us

I’m sure many people may wonder why I would put together a site like this. I would like to share with everyone my story and my personal reasons for why I saw a need for Parenting By Parents.

I grew up with 2 brothers with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It was hard since I was the oldest and ended up taking on much of their care. I remember when my parents had to fight the school district in 1984 to allow the older of the 2 to go into a mainstreamed Kindergarten class. You see, although they were in wheelchairs, their form of SMA does not affect their minds or intellect. Obviously things have changed, and the public has become slightly more aware when it comes to people with disabilities, but that does not mean that they understand.

When I was 22, I found out that I was pregnant. I was an unmarried soldier at the time and was scared. Luckily I found the right man just before my world would start to come crashing down. I went through all of the normal tests that you have done during a pregnancy and found that there was the possibility of a chromosome disorder in my baby. No problem, I had volunteered and worked with kids my entire life with various disabilities. I knew what would be involved, but had the test done to see if we could find out exactly what was wrong so that I could be better prepared.

I was told that there was a defect linked to the male chromosome, that would’ve likely been passed on from the father. Unfortunately, I no longer had contact with the father and couldn’t let him know. All they could tell me was that the defect may or may not affect my child once they were born.

What I did not know was that chromosome defects can sometimes cause premature labor. I went on a trip to Florida to meet my husband’s family for Christmas. When we got back, I went back to duty. I hadn’t been back for a week, when the trouble began. I started spotting and immediately when to the post urgent care center. They ran some tests, told me everything was fine, but hooked me up to an IV and sent me to the local hospital. At this point, I knew that they weren’t being honest when they told me everything was fine. The military doctor on call met me at the hospital. I was dilated 2cm and had already ruptured membranes. They needed to get me to the hospital in Syracuse, NY immediately as they were not capable of the preemie care that would be necessary if I gave birth that night. My husband was told to stay home as there was a bad snow storm and to meet me in Syracuse in the morning. I had to spend that night, my first ever in a hospital, alone.

When I got to Syracuse they adjusted my bed so that I was laying intrundel to relieve some of the pressure on my uterus and hopefully stop labor. I was not having any contractions, which was scaring everyone. I remained like that for a week before they decided to let me lie normal and allowed me out of bed to use the restroom. Boy was that a mistake. The first time I got up to use the bathroom, I sneezed and ended up pulling the emergency cord. I could feel my baby’s head!!

The nurses all came in, they sent in an intern to examine me and I was told, yes, they could see the top of the baby’s head but everything was fine. And back to bedrest and intrundel I went. Well, this naturally didn’t sound right, but who was I to question them? This was my first pregnancy!

Now as I said, I wasn’t feeling any contractions, so they would periodically hook me up to machines to monitor whether or not I was actually having any. About a week later, January 15th, 1999, I was on that machine and a nurse came in. There were no contractions being monitored, but she noticed that there was a drop in the baby’s heartrate, so she got someone in there immediately. Upon examination we learned that I was dilated to 10cm! My husband and family had just left so they got me a phone while they were prepping me for delivery. The last ultrasound had shown the baby was still facing the right way.

I called my mom and my husband then tried to prepare myself. We found out the baby was breached so they chose to do a C-Section. I was only 24 weeks along. Once they started the C-Section they realized that my poor son was stuck in the birth canal and they had to do the old fashioned T Cut in order to have enough space to get him out. He was rushed immediately to the NICU. He was bruised all over his poor body. My family arrived while I was in recovery. I was shaking in pain from the contractions that they had to induce after the surgery, and it was too soon for them to give me any pain medication.

Aaron Bruce Ababon survived for just 8 hours. His father and grandmother each held him, although I never got a chance to. He was so small that with the amount of morphine I was on, I was scared I would drop him.

Just 3 months later, I lost my aunt Kathy Jean to cancer. She had survived far longer than we expected, and we all believe it was because she wanted to see her first great-nephew born.

Later in May of 1999, I learned that I was pregnant again. Although I had ultrasounds every 2 weeks, it was a much more pleasant experience and Alec Gene Ababon came into this world Feb 2, 2000.

Alec is a very healthy, happy 2 year old now. Someday we shall tell him of his “older brother.”

During this time, my 2 brothers with SMA left for college. Dan, the youngest went to Hofstra University and later got into New York University’s very prestigious dramatic writing program. Chris went on to Hofstra when Dan went to NYU. Dan spent 2 very happy semesters living his dream come true. He was a finalist for the Emmy Internship that he wanted so badly in Los Angeles, had many scripts in various contests, and suddenly late Sunday May 12th my mother got a call that her 21 year old son had been a passenger in a car accident and was being taken to a hospital in New Jersey. They believed he was fine, although he had been thrown out of his wheelchair through the back window of the van. She told the hospital of his disability and made sure they were aware of his needs. She was leaving NYC on the very next train to get there. Within the 2 hours that it took for mom to get to my brother on May 13th, he had died due to aspiration on the cat scan table.

That is another day that will forever live in my memory. I was awoken at 5am by the doorbell. They had been trying to call me for an hour to tell me that my fuller than life itself, 21 year old brother had been killed. The next days were a blur as I helped my father make the arrangements since my mother was still in New Jersey handling things down there.

Daniel was a role model to the many people with disabilities that he came into contact with. NEVER once did he allow the fact that he was in a wheelchair stop him from doing anything that he wanted to do. He was truly living his dream until it came to a crashing end.

Today, my brother Chris lives in NYC with my mom and I am working to get this website up and running so that it can help others. I am a Work at home Mom to Alec and wouldn’t dream of doing anything else!

March 5, 2006

I promised that I would tell more about who I am, and how I came to be that person.  March 5, 2006 is a day that will always live on, in both my head and my heart.  On March 5, 2006, I lost the second of my two younger brothers, Chris.

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You see, I was the oldest of 3 children, the only girl and the only one of us not in a wheelchair.  I grew up with 2 younger brothers in wheelchairs, Chris being the first child with a handicap to be mainstreamed in the Spencerport School District in Upstate NY.  I always had people telling me how sorry they were that the boys were in wheelchairs.  I can honestly say that I wasn’t sorry, and neither were they, other than the occasional moments when they wished they could do something like play football.  That’s exactly what I used to tell people in response to that.  I am who I am today because of the things that I learned and experienced because I had two brothers in wheelchairs.  They never knew how to walk, so they didn’t miss what they never had, so to speak.  We started volunteering with the Rochester chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association when I was just 8 years old.  The boys quickly became the local, then state poster children for NY, which meant a LOT of public events as I was growing up.  It also meant that I started doing live television interviews at the age of 8 as well.  The hosts of the local telethon, who were also newscasters on the local NBC affiliate, LOVED speaking with our family, and used every excuse they could to bring us into the station to be on the noon broadcast, as well as interviewing us during the live telethon.

Chris was the middle child and quite different from both Danny and I in many ways.  Chris was an actor, and through the support of some of the staff and students at our school, participated in many of the school plays.  About all he liked about school was his friends, chorus and rehearsals for shows.  Neither of my brothers ever let being in a wheelchair stop them from doing something that they truly wanted to do.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life was to make the phone call to my mom, who was living in CA at the time, to tell her that she had lost her second child.  Chris had been in the hospital all week and I had stayed with him.  The doctors were great about keeping mom informed, and we all agreed that he was well when he was discharged.  There was NO doubt in my mind that he could go home.  He went to his girlfriend’s house and the next morning I got the call that he had stopped breathing and was on his way to the ER.  Unfortunately despite everyone’s best efforts, he was never revived.  I am thankful everyday that he chose to go to her house and not come home with us because I can’t even imagine if my son, then 6 years old, had been the one to find him that day.

My Story

As I attend events for various charities, and start thinking about writing my bio for the pageant in June, I have come to realize that most of the people currently in my life don’t know “my story.”  Everyone knows that I give a lot of my time to charity, but they don’t know why, or that I’ve done so since I was 8 years old.  Most people don’t know that I grew up with 2 younger brothers with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, that are now deceased, or what kind of people they were.  Very few know that I had a child before Alec that only lived for 8 hours, that I have watched countless relatives die of cancer, or that I served in the Army.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that the heartache helps to form who we are as people, just as much as the joy.

People ask me all the time about why I am involved in pageants because they see the headlines, and hear the stereotypes, and know that I am not that “kind of person.”  There are two main reasons that I choose to be in what could be considered by many as such a superficial industry.  The biggest one is that I get to help young ladies and women live their dreams on a regular basis.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that??  The other main reason is that I get to make a difference, and align myself with others that do as well.  There is so much more to the young ladies and women involved in pageantry than meets the eye.  Yes, there are those that are superficial and do it because they want to feel important.  They are not the majority though.  All of my closest friends are people that I have met through pageantry, whether they compete, direct, or are sponsors.  They are the ones that have helped me through many dark days over the last 10 years, and I wouldn’t give them up for the world.

I hope that you’ll be inspired to take the time to get to know people for who they are, and not who you think they are because of what they do.  Over the coming days and weeks, I’ll be sharing more about my story, and what makes me who I am.  I’ll also share information on various causes and what they mean to me, and how you can help them.  I hope that you’ll enjoy learning a bit more about me, and it will make you stop to think about what drives you, and what more you can do to help out in the community and those around you.  My almost 13 year old son, helps me in whatever ways that he can, at whatever events I bring him to.  He ASKS to come so that he can do his part to help as well.  There is not minimum or maximum age to doing charity.

Liz Fogg
Ms. Arizona US Universal 2013

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