Miss Teen Texas International Gracie Hunt Focuses on Her Blessings

This morning, I woke up counting my blessings. I have so much to be thankful for each and every day, but today I am especially grateful for the love and support of my family. As I pack and prepare to leave for the Miss Teen International competition in Jacksonville, Florida, I am continually reminded of the blessing of a strong support system. I am honored to have the opportunity to be a light and have a voice as Miss Teen Texas International this year. I pray each day that I might run the race that Christ has set before me to the best of my ability [Hebrews 12:1]. Each and every person has a platform. A chance to love, serve, and reach out to others. It doesn’t take a title or a special degree to have a voice and make a difference. I think God places people, moments and possibilities in our lives every single day. It is our job to recognize and make the most of those moments.

I am a better person in every way for the road, preparation, and process that pageantry has led me through. I’ve discovered much about myself and caring for others, and the world around me. One of my favorite things about the International system is the focus on service. Breaking Barriers Through Sports is my cause, and I’ve discovered that there is no better exercise for the heart then bending down and lifting others up. I want to thank my amazing state director, Rachel Hedstrom, my sister queens, Kory Zwaagstra and Taylor Ashworth, and Valerie Hayes for all the ways she has poured into me. I also want to thank Mary Richardson for the opportunity that she’s given me and everyone blessed to participate in this system, to better myself and impact the world around me.

I am especially excited to have the chance to meet the wonderful young women who will grace the stage to bring light and awareness to their causes  to be the change we want to see in the world. It’s these new friends who give me inspiration and hope for the future. I know that we will make wonderful memories together and will all go on to impact the world in special ways. Of course, we all hope to win the title of Miss Teen International, but only one will walk away with the crown. The only way for everyone to leave satisfied is to make the most of the experience, treasure the week, and rest in God’s sovereignty and plan.

One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world!

Gracie Hunt
Miss Teen Texas International 2016

Miss Teen Texas International Heads to the Teen International Pageant in Jacksonville, FL

Wow … I can’t believe it is already time to leave for Jacksonville early tomorrow morning!  I’M SO EXCITED!  I consider it a true blessing to have been crowned Miss Teen Texas International 2015.  I’ve had some awesome experiences and met some wonderful people.  As a Native Texan, I cherish this opportunity to represent my great state at the National Pageant!

I’d first like to thank God for breathing life into me and putting me on my path.  Thank You for all the blessings You have given to me and allowing me to live in the most awesome country in the world.

I’d like to thank my parents – especially my Momma.  Thank you both for making the commitment to me so I can be in the pageant.  Thank you for always keeping me on the top of your priority list – I know you have sacrificed a lot for me over the past few months.  Thank you for being my parent when I need one and a friend to me always.  You both have showered me in love and support and I thank you very much.

Also very high on my list is my Texas Pageant Director, Rachel.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect when this journey began a few months ago.  You have always been willing to be patient with me, and have given me the guidance I needed to hear at exactly the right time.  I am so impressed by your spirit and the zest you have for life.  Thank you for giving me the gift of your friendship.

A big “Thank You” goes to Queen Mum Pam, my predecessor Jahnavi, the other former Queens Whitney & Savannah, as well as the current Queens Farabe’ & Elise.  Your support, guidance, and sweet words of encouragement have truly meant the world to me.  I appreciate all of you!

I’d like to also say “THANK YOU” to the team of consultants and pageant sponsors that I am so very fortunate to have had help to prepare me for this week.  To my pageant coach Valerie – thank you for helping me to gain the confidence and skills needed for my interview – I hope I remember everything you have taught me and I make you proud!  To my walking coach Carlotta – you’ve taught me more about stage presence & grace in a few sessions than I’ve learned in all my 16 years.  To my style consultant Laine – thank you for helping me to develop a visual brand for myself that I truly adore.  To my cosmetic coach Sheila – thank you for taking the time to teach this 16 year old not only how to properly apply cosmetics, but also the importance of good nutrition and skin care.  Thank you to my awesome hair stylists Juan & Joe w/Satori Salon – Y’all are worth every minute of the drive from DFW to Houston because I love, love, love my hair style!  To my photographer Kerry – you have such an amazing ability to make me look my best in print – thank you for taking the time to get everything “just right” for me.  To my print consultant, Corrie w/Paper Patina – thank you for doing such an awesome job designing the print work because it couldn’t have turned out better!

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Richardson’s for sponsoring the International Pageant System.  When I was talking to my parents several months ago about submitting an application for a pageant, they said they were willing to make the commitment with me on the condition that I was able to find a pageant line that encouraged some type of volunteer work.  They wanted me to invest time in doing service work that I could commit to, learn from, and would be a benefit to our community.  People sometimes think a pageant is all about how pretty the girls are in their gorgeous outfits … and although those things are important, there’s more to it.  I’ve learned that beauty is not only measured on outward appearances but also what is in your heart.

Looking forward to a fabulous week!

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015

Savannah gets a little help from some of her best friends as she leaves for the Teen International Pageant!

Savannah gets a little help from some of her best friends as she leaves for the Teen International Pageant!

Miss Texas International Elise Banks Readies for the Miss International Pageant with Heartfelt Gratitude

My heart could not be more filled and my eyes can not be filled with more tears as I reflect on all the love and support that I received at my send-off party last night. To think of everyone who has been there for me during this experience, that has been 12 years in the making, is overwhelming! This post may be lengthy, but I want to make sure I acknowledge all those who have been such an encouragement to me.

First off, I want to thank my Lord and Savior as He has trusted me with the job of being Miss Texas International. He knew before I was even born that I would have this opportunity, and I feel so incredibly blessed by the people He has put in my life for such a time as this!

To my parents, thank you, thank you, thank you! I couldn’t have asked for better role models as I walked on this earth for the last 27 years. You both have gone over and beyond to help me be successful and I am eternally grateful. My prayer is that I can inspire my future children as you have inspired me. I love you, Mom & Dad!

To my extended family: I love each and every one of you. You don’t get to pick your family, but I’m so glad God put me in this family. From my Edwards side to my Banks side, thank you for everything you all have done for me!

The International System: To the Richardsons- You have created such an amazing and top notch pageant system. I have never felt so welcomed and surrounded with such talented, passionate and intelligent women as I have with he girls of this system!

To my director, Rachel. Thank you for all that you do and all of your encouraging words. You have guided me and continue to help me put things in perspective. I am so glad that you are my director as I couldn’t have a better person to prep me for nationals!

Savannah, Rachael, Whitney, Jahnavi & Alyssa- Y’all left huge shoes to fill! Thank you for the encouraging words you have sent me. I am proud to be in this sisterhood!

To Farabe’ & Savannah: I’m so excited to be sharing this year with you two! You are both such positive and beautiful spirits and I am blessed by your lives and what you have done for our communities.

To my pageant sponsors: Valerie Hayes- you have seen me grown from a shy 16 year old girl to the woman I am today! The foundation of my interview skills came from you and have given me the confidence to walk into any room and know how to handle challenging situations. You always keep me on my toes, and I am better because of it!

Laine Berry- thank you for helping me create the “Sasha Fierce” brand! You challenged me to step out of the box for nationals, and I am so glad that I did! I can’t wait to be on stage with the wardrobe that you helped me put together!

Ms. Rupa- You are truly a gift from God. Your talent is impeccable. You will always have a fan in me! Thank you for making sure all of my wardrobe fits me beautifully!

Sheila- I can’t put into words who amazing you are! Your talent allows me to feel confident on the outside, but you have also given me the tools to feel confident on the inside too! Thank you for always supporting me and encouraging me to go for the Miss Texas title! Love you!

Kerry Beyer- Thank you for the beautiful pictures. You are an awesome photographer! I still look at my pictures and squeal “That’s me!”

Carlotta Lennox- You are gorgeous and striking! I can’t wait to strut my stuff on the runway next week! Thank you for giving me the space to be me while demonstrating the importance of stage presence!

Juan Cao, Joe Farina & the entire staff at Satori: I always love my the days I get to come to the salon. You each make me feel so welcome, and I always know my hair is going to look fabulous!

Suzy Bootz: I really enjoyed reading your book and all of your inspirational messages! May God continue to give you the words to write to encourage others in their preparation for pageants and for life!

To NAMI, H.U.G.S. for Autism, Crisis Intervention, Family Service Center of Greater of Houston and all of the other organizations I’ve worked with, I am honored to be affiliated with such amazing organizations. My platform Healthy Mind-Successful Life is extremely important to me and I’m so glad we all get to collaborate to advocate for mental health.

To my boss, Evan Weinberger: Thank you for everything you do and accommodating my crazy schedule! The work that we do with students is a gift that I am so glad I get to give to others!

To my church family at Lakewood: Your prayers and support have given me peace and the strength to move forward when I didn’t know if I would make it.

To my Friends: You’ve seen my ups and downs but always stand by my side. Thank you for the laughs, the memories, and for everything that’s ahead!

I really hope I didn’t leave anyone out! I couldn’t leave for Florida tomorrow without saying THANK YOU!

Ok Team Texas… It’s time to bring home the crown! Let’s go!

God Bless,

Elise Banks
Miss Texas International 2015

With my #1 supporter, my mom!

With my #1 supporter, my mom!