Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tournament of Roses Parade - Final Day!

Alyson Roth, Ms. Wheelchair California, and Erika Bogan, Ms. Wheelchair America helped put the final touches on the Kiwanis Rose Float this afternoon. What a beautiful float we have!

Here I am in front of our float. It really is beautiful with all those thousands of flowers!

Erika, Alexis Ostrander, and me on our bench on the front right of the float. Look for us waving at you tomorrow! We weren't allowed to wear our crown and sashes for judging, but we will have them on for the Rose Parade. When the judges came to score us, we had to cheer, wave, and act like we were on Colorado Blvd. in the parade! It was rather odd shouting "Happy New Year!" to no one, but I was loud and smiled and waved!

Below are the rest of some of the beautifully decorated floats that will be featured in tomorrow's New Year's Day Tournament of Rose's Parade down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, California. I love my state!

The Rotary Float

The City of Anaheim float

The Bayer Float

Trader Joe's float (way cool by the way!)

The Boy Scouts of America's float

Honda's Float (this is the most amazing as it shoots canons and fireworks out of it!)
The FFA Today float

And finally, the Rose Bowl stadium where Ohio and Oregon will duke it out for the title!

On our way home from decorating and judging, there were already people lined up on Colorado Blvd, ready to spend the night to get a prime viewing spot in the parade route. Technically, they are allowed to start setting up camp at 12 noon, but we saw people already there at 10am this morning! Insane!!

And finally, a beautiful sunset over Los Angeles and Burbank to round out 2009. Happy New Year to everyone, and may 2010 bring you many blessings! Can't wait to wave to you all tomorrow on television. Again, it begins at 8am PST/11am EST, and we are on the Kiwanis float (front right). We are number 85 of 91, so we'll be towards the end of the parade.

Happy New Year!

Tournament of Roses Parade Preparation Day!

I had such an amazing day today despite the drizzly and cold rain that set in about 9am or so. This truly is one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen. Watching the Rose Parade on tv does not do any justice to what the floats are actually like up close and in person. Each is intricately designed, shaped, and created so uniquely, and the aroma in the Rose Pavilion is simply breathtaking with all the flowers! The Ms. Wheelchair California/America Program is so blessed to be in partnership with the Kiwanis to be on their float.

Below is the float I will be on called "A Cut Above the Rest." Erika Bogan, Ms. Wheelchair America, and I will be sitting to the right of the tree in the front (almost directly behind where the lady in the green jacket is.) Out of 91 floats, we are number 85.

It was so much fun decorating the float. It was truly miraculous to be there from 8am to the evening and see the transformation happen right before my eyes at how marvelous it is turning out. I really is magical, and everything... EVERYTHING... is made out of flowers, seeds, or natural products like straw or wood.
Alyson Roth, Ms. Wheelchair California 2009

After helping to decorate the float, I had a wonderful luncheon with the Kiwanis and was able to meet the International Kiwanis President, Paul Palazzolo, and his family (above).

Another treat was meeting Ms. Wheelchair 2005 Juliette Rizzo, who flew all the way from Washington DC for today's preparations. She is an amazing woman!

Erika Bogan, Ms. Wheelchair America 2010, and Alyson Roth, Ms. Wheelchair California 2009 at the Tournament of Roses House. We were waiting to meet the Rose Queen and Court along with Stephanie Edwards, the official host of the Tournament of Roses Parade, along with Bob Sullivan.

The Rose Queen and Court along with Stephanie, Erika, and myself.

Finally, a last picture with Stephanie Edwards herself. She is a truly blessed and remarkable lady. I had such a lovely conversation with her and truly has a genuine spirit and love of Jesus.

Today was an amazing day and totally nothing of what I expected. I can't wait for tomorrow and the judging of the floats. Everyone is so energetic and there are literally thousands of people here touring the facilities to see the progress of the floats. I'm a extremely honored to have been here today and look forward to the rest of the time as we bring in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Getting Ready for the Tournament of Roses Parade

On January 1, 2010, I will be a part of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on New Years Day for Ms. Wheelchair CA in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club. I am very excited about this opportunity and memory. I’ve never been to the parade before, so to jump forward and actually be ON it is thrilling! Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll be busy helping with the final preparations of the float, putting the final flowers on, doing media interviews, photo ops, luncheons, dinners, etc. It will be a very busy week for sure.

Here is the link to the Rose Float that I’ll be on with the Kiwanis Club. The parade starts at 8am PST, but there is no guarantee that our float will be televised. Nonetheless, it will be an exciting and memorable experience. I’ll be supposedly sitting on a park bench on the very front of the float. I’ll wave to you all on television! The Grand Marshall for the parade is Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger , the heroic pilot who masterfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson.

I'll update the blog on Wednesday evening once I find out more about the schedule along with pictures from the day. Be sure to set your DVR's for this amazing day as we bring in 2010 together!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ms. Wheelchair California Fundraiser

What a fun-filled weekend in Sun City, CA! I took a nice drive to the other side of the mountains to spend time with some amazing people who put on a wonderful Luncheon, great entertainment, and a wonderful fundraiser for the Ms. Wheelchair California program. Special thanks goes to Robbie Motter for coordinating this successful event.

Below is a picture of me with all the entertainers. Each of them has a great story/testimony, and I was honored to be in each of their presence on Saturday. God has truly blessed each of them with talents and gifts, and I'm blessed that they chose to spend their Saturday afternoon helping to raise money for our program.

Robert Hollywood (below) is a gifted DJ and singer and dancer he toured the world with UP WITH PEOPLE and for years has been performing at some of the top events of the year in the Menifee Valley area. He is also a line dancing expert. We affectionaltly referred to him as "DJ Hollywood." He was fantastic at keeping the crowd entertained and generating a lot of funny commentary.

I had the opportunity to speak briefly about my story and advocacy work with the Ms. Wheelchair California pageant before the entertainment began!

Robbie Motter (l) and Fleet (r) enjoy a dance on the dance floor, but I was soon to have my chance! Fleet is the current winner of the Desert Idol competition for best singer/entertainer in Palm Springs. He was born in Akron, Ohio where he began his show business career by appearing in many musical productions at the Goodyear Musical Theater. He has an extensive background in dance, acting and singing. He studied at American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Arts and took master classes at the world-renowned Julliard School.
Here, I take a spin on the dance floor with Fleet!

Lecia Breen (below) has made numerous appearances as a vocalist and performer over the years in Washington and Oregon. She began singing at the age of 6 and started her professional career in her late teens. She sang for Lawrence Welk at the Seattle Center Coliseum, was the featured Star Spangled Banner vocalist for the Seattle Mariners through the eighties. Lecia was Miss King County 1980 and Runner up to Miss Washington 1981. Lecia is a newcomer to Palm Springs and excited to be part of such a dynamic and diverse community. She also has been responsible for putting together some great shows at the Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs.

Jasmine Nazari (below) is the daughter of Lecia Breen (above). She performs as a singer, and recently performed in the Broadway at the Sozo where she sang, A Whole New World, and I’m Not That Girl. This year Jasmine is entering the Miss Asia USA Pageant, the premier Cultural Pageant participated in by Asian women in the United States, who trace their ancestry to the 58 countries considered part of the Asian continent. She currently holds the title as Miss Iran.

Megan Clynes (below) is thirteen years old and lives in Lake Elsinore, CA. She is an eighth grader at Canyon Lake Middle School and is a member of advanced choir. Megan enjoys being in theater and was a Child Soloist for The Glory of Christmas at the Crystal Cathedral in 2008, she was also in various productions with Christian Youth Theater, Canyon Lake Community Church , and Canyon Lake Middle School, and Canyon Lake Community Theater. She also sang the National Anthem for a Minor League Baseball Game. Megan has a love for music and performing arts and is learning guitar to be able to sing and play together in the future. This girl has an amazing voice and a beautiful spirit! Remember her name as she will be famous one day soon! Below her picture is a clip of her singing, "Only Hope."

Melody Encheff (below) is a Chapman University graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production. She has had lifelong training in music and voice, studying with such notable instructors as piano teacher Mary Costa, and voice teacher Susan Montgomery. Melody’s singing experience includes first prize winning talent show performance for her school, and performances for various church’s. She has recorded 4 original songs, and made one music video.
Finally, we did some drawings for prizes of which I had to shuffle through a bowl of a lot of names to call out prize winners! I felt like I was on the "Price Is Right" again, but on the other side!
Megan Clynes and me during a brief break. I love this girl!

The wonderful June Davidson presented each of us with a beautiful certificate in honor of all of our achievements, and then I was able to present the Executive Director of the Ms. Wheelchair California pageant, Ruthee Goldkorn, with the proceeds of the afternoon. Thank you everyone for a great time and for coming to this fantastic event! I had such a fun time with each of you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2010 Tournament of Roses Rose Queen & Royal Court

On Friday, January 1, 2010 at 8 a.m. (PST), millions of spectators from around the world will celebrate the New Year with the 121st Rose Parade themed 2010: A Cut Above the Rest. The Rose Parade will once again feature the beautiful pageantry and tradition of magnificent floral floats, high-stepping equestrians and spirited marching bands.

I had the honor being a part of the Kiwanis Club of Pasadena Luncheon at the University Club of Pasadena and got to meet the 2010 Royal Rose Queen and her Royal Court. Each of these beautiful highschoolers have acheived amazing accomplishments both in their personal lives, school, and community, and it is a great honor to be selected as part of the Court. Below, I am with each of the Royal Princess with the Queen, Natalie Innocenzi, in the middle.

I am also honored to have the Kiwanis Rose Float Club partner with the Ms. Wheelchair California program. Larry Maddick (r) and Dave (l) below will be my guides on New Year's Day as I join them on their float! I am thrilled to be part of such a huge part of history as I get to ride down Colorado Blvd. on one of the many beautifully decorated floats with Kiwanis.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your day and for the opportunity to meet each of these extrodinary women. I look forward to them each representing our commuinty in their own way as they strive to truly be "A Cut Above the Rest."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Disabilities in Long Beach

The Citizens' Advisory Commission on Disabilities hosted a celebration in at the Long Beach Convention Center in honor of Disability Awareness Month. St. Mary Medical Center and Community Hospital of Long Beach provided free health screenings. There were also financial advice booths and information from agencies that work wtih people with disabilities, including: DOR, Easter Seals, Veteran's Administration, Social Security Administration, Disability Rights of California, IRS, Harbor Regional Center, Disable Resources Center, Long Beach Mental Health and many more.

Alyson had to the chance to meet many great people. Below are some pictures of those she was able to meet, sign autographs for, and take pictures with.

The United States Health Census Bureau was there. Please make sure you are counted in 2010's census! Click here to fill out the quick form. It's important that the government knows how many people there are with disabilities living in the United States so that we can get the service we need and are deserving of. I was told that children are the most under-counted, so be sure to include everyone in your household!

Congress designated each October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Various programs are carried out throughout the month to highlight the barriers that still need to be addressed and removed.

This effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment actually began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month."

Alyson with Dora Hogan of the ADA/EEO Compliance office (below).

There was a very special performance by AbilityFirst where they signed to two different songs. It was beautiful!

Alyson with a hopeful potential contestant for Ms. Wheelchair California 2010!

The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Long Beach for our participation and all that we do for those in the disabled community!