February 2008 Newsletter
After returning from Miss America there was little time for R & R. I hit the ground running with school visits, trade shows, and cook offs. I judged my first cook off in the month of February. Judging a chili cook off seemed like an easy assignment at the time especially since chili happens to be one of my favorite foods. All I had to do was sample 21 different kinds of chili and choose my favorite, right… wrong! This was by far one of the most difficult tasks to date. By the time I reached chili number 10, I thought I was going to burst. Despite our plea for small sample portions, each cook was intent on giving us a portion large enough to ensure that we had a taste of every essential ingredient. I would not have made it through this one without the support of my delightful co-judges. Bill White, the infamous “food columnist”, at the Morning Call, really helped keep me going. We were joined later by Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan who seemed to zoom through the line of cook off hopefuls so effortlessly I was sure he must have done this before. I capped off the evening with a few Tums and a feeling of satisfaction knowing the indigestion I suffered during this event was well worth it. Proceeds from the cook off went to a local food pantry which supplies meals to residents in Bethlehem who may have difficulties providing for their families.
Keeping with the trend of food based appearances for good causes, I also had the pleasure of attending a few pancake parties this month. The Children’s Miracle Network teamed up with long time sponsor IHOP for National Pancake Day. This event raised upwards of $750,000 in prior years for local children’s charities. The fund raisers allow guests to enjoy a free stack of pancakes at their local participating IHOP in hopes that they will donate the dollar amount they would have spent, to CMN. In order to promote this event I attended a Pancake Party at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Some of the most adorable children you will ever meet participated in pancake stacking contests after enjoying a delicious pancake breakfast. Later in the month I visited the local IHOP in Allentown for the actual National Pancake Day Celebration.
Celebrations where sprinkled throughout the month of February from Groundhog Day (which also happens to be my birthday) to Valentine’s Day and of course President’s Day. I had the distinct honor and privilege of spending my Valentine’s Day with some of America’s finest at the Veteran’s Medical Center in Lebanon. It was one of the most heartwarming days of the year for me. Although I arrived to spread love and cheer to the veterans living and being treated there, I received even more in return. Walking the halls of the large medical center was overwhelming. The walls were lined with plaques, photos and stories honoring the men and women who served our country fearlessly over the past few decades. I visited patients in the hospice units and even some in acute care. It was a joy to be able to show my appreciation in person to so many who sacrificed their health and well being to secure my liberty.
Rachel Marie Brooks
Miss Pennsylvania 2007
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