Most memorable moments

It's GIVING TUESDAY! I've been fortunate to work with many incredible organizations and I thought it would be an appropriate day to highlight a few of my most memorable moments! 

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals

Miss America 2014 677.JPG

To start, I'd like for you to meet Briggs, the Children's Miracle Network champion child from Texas during my year as Miss America. I met Briggs at the very beginning of my year at Celebration--a two week event bringing together 51 champion children & their families from each state across America. From the excitement of Disney World to touring D.C., all of us became a family very quickly in those two weeks. During our time together, it was clear that all the children viewed Briggs as their older brother and role model (especially being one of the oldest children there). He helped them on the rides in Disney & walked them through the history of DC. He even orchestrated a Bollywood dance party during the end of the trip cruise! It was certainly a trip with many laughs, but what stood out the most was when Briggs was telling me about his upcoming procedure and treatment. I remember asking about the risks, and he very firmly (but kindly) said, "I'm not scared. You just can't be." It was a profound moment to witness a 16 year-old boy be so rooted in his strength. And even though I may not have realized it at the time, it also evoked a sense of strength in myself. After Celebration was over, many of the Champion children and families remained in touch. Briggs was in and out of the hospital over the course of the year. Towards the end of my reign while he was in the hospital, I remember telling him that one of our pictures was in my Miss America farewell speech and that he had to keep an eye out for it! Sadly, Briggs passed away only a few days before I passed on my title. However, his strength & spirit is something that I will always carry with me. I'll never forget the 5am media interviews we had in Magic Kingdom and how he said, "Hey Miss America, you know you wanna take a selfie with me." And to this day, it's one of the best selfie I've ever taken. It also made me realize, he didn't need to keep an eye out for a photo, he lived it--just like he did every moment with us. To the Berry Family: thank you for sharing Briggs, his legacy will continue to live on through all of us. And to CMNH: thank you for everything you do to make miracles happen--not only for the kids, but for all of us lucky enough to cross paths with them. #ForTheKids #DonateNow #PutYourMoneyWhereTheMiraclesAre


Miss America 2014 654.JPG

Girl Rising

Girl Rising

I've always said I'm solely here because of the women in my family and our education. It couldn't be more true. In 1955, my grandmother broke the glass ceiling by founding Montessori Educational Institution (an all women's college), and is now a degree granting university celebrating their 60th anniversary. After witnessing her receive the Padmashree Award in Education & Literature from the Government of India, I'm humbled to be a small part of her legacy. She's truly everything #GirlRising stands for and more. Sadly, 62 million girls are left behind because their futures aren’t as valued compared to their male counterparts. We must invest in girls education so they can be empowered to make their own decisions and have their voices heard. Thank you to my Ammamma, Mom, and sister for being a continued source of inspiration and courage in my life!





If this picture doesn't warm your heart, then I don't know what will! This was taken during my visit to a Pratham site in Mumbai, India. This particular program was an after school English teaching site. Many times, parents are working multiple jobs with harsh & unsafe conditions for children. Pratham has started after school enrichment programs for children to have a safe learning environment while their parents are at work. During my time with the kids, we sang songs, played word association games, and even had a quiz bowl! The little guy on my right told me he wants to be the next Prime Minister! Thank you Pratham for all that you do to keep #EveryChildInSchool #AndLearningWell! 

*Over the next 24 hours, Pratham is participating in the Newman’s Own Foundation Holiday Challenge. The organization that raises the most money on Giving Tuesday will be awarded $50,000 in prize money! 


Which organizations are you giving to this Tuesday? And what are your most memorable moments working with them? Let me know in the comments below!