I NEVER pictured myself as a runner, let alone someone who could run a half-marathon. I love taking dance classes throughout the week and doing pretty much everything at the gym; except running. About two years ago, I was leaving my yearly cancer checkup as my pediatric oncologist Dr. Sutphin ran out to talk with me. In our brief conversation, he mentioned how he had always wanted to run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon with one of his patients. Shortly thereafter, I became involved in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Organization, which has an incredible partnership with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. As I did further research into the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, I learned that a portion of the funds raised would go towards Children's Miracle Network. This was even more reason to participate in the run! During my yearly cancer checkup in October, I brought up running the half-marathon once again. Everyone was for it!
I learned very quickly that I couldn't run a half-marathon without having the proper tools and training. I began training three days a week at the end of November and continued that routine up until the race. At first, it was tough. However, once I began consistently running, my endurance and time improved. Throughout the training process, I learned how to listen to what my body needs and push myself beyond my limits.
After months of anticipation, the race arrived! I had been in Gainesville, FL for Miss Gainesville the night before the half-marathon, so I didn't get as much sleep as I had wished. My Mom and I woke up at 2:30 am to arrive at Disney for the half-marathon an hour later. I was greeted with Disney music, signage, excited racers, and my amazing doctor along with some of his nurses. At 6:00 am our team crossed the start line; 13.1 miles to go. As a team, we made sure to pace ourselves and encourage one another. We ran through the main roads, Magic Kingdom, overpasses, and ended up in Epcot! On the last mile, Dr. Sutphin and I decided to speed it up even more. As I crossed the finish line, I felt a sense of accomplishment. My months of training paid off in that moment. The coolest part of the morning was receiving my medal. On the way out of the park, I started looking up more half-marathons to run. I cannot wait to finish my next race!
Miss America’s Outstanding Teen week was nothing short of remarkable and memorable. Hearing my name called as “Florida” was a true honor and joy! Thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me along this journey. You have shaped me into who I am today. Five year old Hannah would have never imagined being on the MAOTeen stage, but because of role models that inspired me, I achieved that dream.
The Friday night before check-in, the Miss Florida Forevers Foundation hosted my Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Send-Off Party! I was able to see volunteers, friends, family, and local titleholders. It was the best way to kickoff my journey to Miss America's Outstanding Teen!
On Saturday, I arrived to the Rosen Centre Hotel and immediately began getting ready for a photoshoot with Ms. Deb Knoske. The photos turned out wonderful! I also worked on a video package introducing myself as well as B-roll footage for production. Then, I headed to hair and makeup for a photoshoot with Jenn Cady Photography, who had such fun ideas for the photos! Once I finished the photoshoot, the other contestants and I walked down to our first of many rehearsals. After I was ready for the orientation, I met with my awesome Executive Director Mr. Keith Williams and spent time with my family. During the orientation, I was very inspired by the passion that each volunteer contained. Right then, I knew that it would be an unforgettable week! At the end of the meeting, we said our goodbyes and then headed upstairs for a welcome party hosted by London Hibbs and the Miss Texas' Outstanding Teen Organization. As I entered my hotel room for the week, it was decorated with inspirational quotes, messages from friends, and lots of love! My family had unpacked my items before I saw my room, so they made sure to make it feel more like home. They definitely accomplished this goal!
After rehearsals all day Sunday, we visited The Main Event in the evening! I had a blast getting to know all of my Miss America's Outstanding sisters. It was also fun to see my family and meet Ms. Tiffany Porter, an incredible supporter of MAOTeen.
I had a fantastic time at Medieval Times on Monday night. It was an honor to walk across the arena representing the state of Florida. The show was very exciting with queens and knights; however, my favorite part was watching it with all of my new friends!
On Tuesday morning, I had my interview with the panel of judges. I loved being able to share my story with them and how much this opportunity meant to me. The first night of preliminary competition was fitness! I loved seeing my family and friends afterwards. I also wore a beautiful orange cocktail dress from one of my generous sponsors, Ann-Marie's Boutique.
Talent night went amazing on Wednesday! It was a dream come true to share my passion for dance on the MAOTeen stage. I felt so encouraged by everyone who came to support me! I wore one of my favorite outfits from the week at visitation; a sparkly jumpsuit from Regalia Magnificent Apparel!
I felt extremely confident in my absolute dream evening gown by Regalia Magnificent Apparel on Thursday night. Seeing my family and friends after the competition was the best part of the evening!
On Friday, I interviewed for the Teens In Action Award with an esteemed panel of judges. Afterwards, I attended the Mommy and Me Par-Tea! I loved spending time with my sweet National Princess Jaden, visiting with my family, and hanging out with the amazing girls. We hit the dance floor, decorated cookies, and had so much fun! In the afternoon, I went to the Miss America's Outstanding Teen trade show and had the opportunity to meet dedicated individuals, who pour so much into this organization. One of them was Ms. Trish Tidd of Togatae Designs, who made my talent costume vision come to life! Friday Night we took a trip to the movie theater and saw the new Lion King movie.
Saturday consisted of rehearsals, food, more rehearsals, and getting ready for the last time with my dressing room group, *white group is the best group*! During finals I was honored to be announced as the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Teens In Action Winner! My platform, Finding A Cure for Pediatric Cancer, is a major part of my life and what I stand for, so receiving a $1,000 scholarship for my dedication to the cause means the world. I cannot wait to continue growing my platform, inspiring kids across the country, and fighting to find a cure. As the first childhood cancer survivor to be Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen, I hope to show kids everywhere that their diagnoses do not define who they are and they can do anything they dream! Congratulations to all of the Teens In Action finalists that make a difference in their communities and inspire others everyday.
Throughout Miss America's Outstanding Teen week, I met the most kind, service-hearted, and intelligent young women from every part of the nation. They are each gorgeous inside and out, making their states very proud. I made lifelong friends and left feeling inspired by them! Wishing the HAPPIEST of congratulations to our Miss America's Outstanding Teen 2020, Payton May! Payton you are going to have such an amazing year and will represent our class so well.
Florida I am so proud to be yours for the next year and to make it the best (and busiest) year yet!
On June 29, 2019 my life was forever changed. As I stood on the RP Funding Stage with the twenty-three most outstanding teens of Florida, I couldn't help but feel honored to be amongst them. As my name was announced as Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen, I realized that all of my hard work paid off!
Thank you to everyone, who has helped me along this journey. This never would have been possible without you.
Thank you to my family for always being there for me. I love you all!!
Thank you to the incredible Miss Florida Board for your constant dedication to positively impacting young women's lives.
Thank you to the esteemed panel of judges for believing in and supporting me!
Thank you to the Forever Miss Florida's Outstanding Teens and Miss Floridas for inspiring me to be my best self and for giving back into this organization.
Thank you to every single girl that is a part of the 2019 class. The friendships and memories I have with you all mean so much!
I cannot wait for the year ahead with my Miss Florida Michaela and to represent the state of Florida at Miss America's Outstanding Teen!
Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen 2019,
Another one of my incredible sponsors for the Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen program book is Dentistry 4 Children & Teens! Doctor Elaine Martinez and her team’s goal is to positively influence children’s lives and empower them to take on the world with their smiles.
They are passionate about preventive care to help each child grow a healthy smile that will last a lifetime. The fun-loving team evaluates what is best for the individual’s needs and lifestyle. I always have a wonderful time visiting the office as I am greeted with friendly faces, prizes, contests, and more! If you live in North Florida and are looking for a pediatric dentistry, please contact them. I’ve been so blessed by Dr. Martinez and her team’s friendship, support, and wonderful work!
Never forget to smile
I feel very blessed to have been able to share my story with WJCT on how PBS has impacted my life at Be My Neighbor Day, which brought the community together over education and service. Check it out below!!
As the oldest child of four, serving as a role model to younger children is something that is extremely important to me. I believe the Miss Florida Sunshine Prince and Princess Program allows me to further this passion as well as get more young girls and boys involved in this organization. It helps us raise future generations with hearts of service, style, scholarship, and success.
I am very excited to have Blake Adams as my Sunshine Prince and Madison Walsh as my Sunshine Princess! They are both smart, spunky, spontaneous seven year olds, who love dance parties, ice cream, and swimming. Madison and Blake will be joining me on the Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen stage and showcasing their incredible talents at the Talent Show. Throughout this year, I have been taught so much from serving as their mentor, especially through being reminded of why I am a part of this program and recognizing the importance of teaching kids to go after their dreams from a young age!
I cannot wait to spend Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen week with Madison and Blake!
As Miss Orlando's Outstanding Teen, I have been able to connect with many incredible sponsors of our competition ranging from scholarship donors to department stores.
Something extremely important to the Miss Orlando Scholarship Competition is engaging with the community. This year we have had local businesses as sponsors such as Downtown Orlando, Barnie's Coffee, H&Q Jewelers, Helcasio Scrubs, Clean Laundry Laundromat, Larimer and Company, Cicero Studios, Attorneys Justin Clark and Associates, Lee James Floral Design, and Concrete Lion Pictures as well as multiple generous individuals like Mrs. Christine Rhodes David and Mrs. Dianne Sarchet, who are extremely dedicated to the organization.
A sponsor that I love to visit is Mr. Chris Martin of Copperhead Salon! Mr. Chris is the BEST!! He always makes my hair look and feel amazing.
Another sponsor and two good friends of mine are Mr. David Lang and Mr. Carry O'Neal from Regalia Magnificent Apparel. They helped me find and designed the evening gown of my dreams for Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen! I am so thankful for their giving hearts.
I am extremely grateful for the support of Orlando and all that they have done for this organization!
Today I had a lovely time volunteering and being an ambassador with the For A Day Foundation at the Ronald McDonald House Orlando! We served food, gifted children with crowns and superhero capes, and met incredible families! Seeing the smiles on the families faces and hearing their stories was very rewarding. I witnessed the whole purpose of For A Day: providing families with a joyful and much needed diversion from the strain of treatment.
I was fortunate enough to be able to go on a tour of the 37 room house. Throughout tour, I saw the generosity of the community towards this cause. Thank you to everyone who volunteers; it couldn't be possible without your support! Being able to hold a For A Day Foundation event at this RMHC was extra special because it is right next to my home hospital Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children!
I am very thankful to have had this opportunity to serve and represent the For A Day Foundation!
I am very thankful to have Hanania Automotive Group's support and sponsorship on my journey to Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen! They have dealerships in Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and Pennsylvania. Customers can shop for a new Audi, Acura, Buick GMC, Chevrolet, FIAT, INFINITI, Hyundai, Maserati, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Alfa Romeo, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen vehicles, as well as pre-owned models. Their friendly sales team members supply helpful information about the vehicles, give you the opportunity to test drive your top selections, and take you on a tour of the dealership.
A Floridian native, Mr. Jack Hanania, the founder of the automotive group, is extremely dedicated to making a difference in the community. He is an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society, Wolfson Children's Hospital, USO, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Concert on the Green, Nemours Children's Hospital, and many more! Mr. Hanania and I share a special bond through both of us being involved in Hyundai Motor America's Hope On Wheels, which is a partner in the fight against childhood cancer.
If you are looking for a great car dealership, I would highly recommend visiting one of their stores!
Relay for Life is something that I have been participating in for eight years as a survivor and team captain! This year, I had the privilege of sharing my personal story of having pediatric cancer and how the #GoldTogether program is making strides towards a cure. At our tent, we sold 70s themed merchandise (our tent theme), PDQ, lemonade, glow sticks, and raffle baskets. During the ten-hour event, we honored our Hero Child, Rachel Bilbray, who survived the same type of cancer that I had... she's like a little sister to me!
My friend Heather, sister Hailey, and I performed a few dances and shared our messages of HOPE.
One of my absolute favorite parts of Relay for Life is the Luminaria Ceremony. In this part of Relay, the track is lined with bags that include names of those who are fighting cancer, have survived cancer, or lost their battle. Everyone in attendance walks the lap together in order to remember why we continue to fight to find a cure! It's inspiring for me to see the community unite over this common ground that we all share.
I cannot wait to continue Relaying for years to come!