Miss Winnipesaukee Scholarship Program
Dedicated to helping young women achieve the goals for college and beyond.
Kara Laing Miss Winnipesaukee 2002 Farewell Speech
Kara Liang
Sparkly dresses, big hair, 4 inch heels, and talks of "world peace" all stir up thoughts of Miss America and beauty pageants. As a pageant contestant myself, I adamantly feel that we need to establish a viewpoint in society that looks past the superficial stigma associated with pageants and their contestants.

Unfortunately, I fall under several stereotypes. I'm a pageant girl, and I have blond hair, which in some people's eyes automatically makes me a dumb blond. ALL of the girls who have competed for the title of Miss New Hampshire are beautiful, talented, and certainly not stupid. Personally, I think that any intelligent and gifted young woman who isn't involved in pageants is crazy, simply because of the vast amount of scholarship money available to them, that they are missing out on.

Lately, for some odd reason, I've found a new enjoyment in telling jokes. I'm sure that everyone here in this audience tonight has heard a dumb blond joke. I did a little research on the Internet to see if there were any smart blond jokes, and I actually found one that I would like to share with all of you.

A blonde walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer. She says she's going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000. The loan officer says the bank will need some kind of security for the loan, so the blonde hands over the keys to a new Rolls Royce. The car is parked in front of the bank, she has the title, and everything checks out. The bank agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan.

The bank's president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the dumb blonde for using a $250,000 Rolls as collateral against a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then proceeds to drive the Rolls into the bank's underground garage and parks it there.

Two weeks later, the blonde returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says, "Miss, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and discovered that you are a multimillionaire. What puzzles us is why would you bother to borrow $5,000?"

The blond replies "Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I get back?"

I definitely think there needs to be more jokes like that one.

On a more serious note, I would like to talk a little bit about what has gotten me here to this particular moment, relinquishing the title of Miss Winnipesaukee.

One week ago, on the 8th of July was the 6th anniversary of my father's death. The day will be forever etched in my memory. I was spending a few days at my best friend's cottage on New Found Lake, just a few miles away from here. It was a Tuesday. By 11 in the morning we were already out on her boat working on our tans, we were two teenage girls without a care in the world. Before long, my best friend's father was calling us back into shore. They brought me in the house, sat me down and gave me the news. My father had died of a heart attack that morning while he was working out at the gym. He was 54 and I was 17.

My father was 6 feet 4 inches tall. He was bald, and had brown eyes. He was a pilot in Vietnam and loved to make model airplanes. He was an amazing father. It gives me comfort to know that the last words I said to him were "I love you."

Despite this tragedy in my life, I like to consider myself an optimist. Every cloud has a silver lining, even the darkest, most daunting of clouds.

I have become a more compassionate, stronger, and determined individual. I am more appreciative of the days we have together, because we never know when it's all going to end.

My father passed away without any life insurance. I wouldn't have needed scholarship money as desperately as I did, so I probably never would have gotten involved in pageants.

My father's death is also the reason why I feel so passionately about my platform, which is educating society about organ and tissue donation. Shortly after his death, my family received a phone call from the New England Organ Bank asking us if we would be willing to donate his tissue. Because he had died of cardiac arrest we couldn't donate any of his vital organs, but his corneas, arteries, bones, skin and ligaments could all be utilized. Ultimately we were able to improve the lives of thirty people with his donation.

I want everyone in this audience to know that more than 80,000 people in the United States right now are waiting for a life saving organ transplant. One donor can save a possible six lives, and improve the lives of countless others. However, 45% of people when asked to donate a loved one's organs say NO. This is absolutely astonishing to me, and I will do my very best to change this statistic. Research has shown that people who say no to donation, often regret their decision later. Hardly ever, do people regret saying yes. I am convinced that if people are educated about organ and tissue donation, and the myths are dispelled, they are less likely to be blinded by their grief of losing a loved one, and are more likely to donate.

Donating my father's tissue was an easy decision for my family to make because we knew it was what he would have wanted, he was always willing to help others. Just because you have a card that says you are an organ donor, does not necessarily make you one. It is your family that ultimately decides. So please, if you want to be an organ donor make sure your family knows of your wishes.

Changing gears a little bit, when I won the title of Miss Winnipesaukee, I had some idea that it was going to be a lot of fun. Funspot is the sponsor after all, and I was given all the free tokens I wanted. Not only has this been an incredibly enjoyable year, this year as Miss Winnipesaukee was also a year of firsts for me. On Columbus Day I was in my very first parade at the Sandwich fair. It was raining, and I decided to walk while everyone else rode in the truck in front of me. They laughed and took pictures while I got soaked. They were kind enough, however, to warn me when I was about to step in some horse manure.

My mom and I played Bingo for the first time at Funspot. I have a new respect for Bingo players. It's hard! You have 20 cards full of numbers, and they call the numbers so fast. I kept having to tell my mother to stop yelling. It definitely takes skill. We didn't win anything, and even if we did we wouldn't have known, but we had a great time never the less.

I also went to Bike Weekfor the first time for a chili cook off. I was wearing my crown for the event and everyone called me the Queen of Chili. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. My experience at Bike Week also inspired me to get a bike of my own. Well, it's more of a moped, actually. Its powder blue and goes about thirty miles an hour. I guess you could say I am officially a biker chick. My friends, however, say I'm more of a scooter girl. Oh well, either way, it's my first step towards a Harley.

This is my last year of eligibility for Miss New Hampshire. Although I am reaching the end of my pageant career, I am happy to say that my professional career is just taking off. I was recently given the position of Account Executive for a company called Entegrity Solutions. It was the first job that I interview for after I graduated, and I am absolutely positive that my interview experiences in the Miss New Hampshire Program helped me get this job. The man who interviewed me was very excited to see community service activities and public speaking on my resume.

I will continue to use the experience, the scholarship money and the network of friends I have established through the Miss New Hampshire Organization to help achieve my goals in life.

Right now, I would like to thank two wonderful people who made this year so enjoyable. Tina and Gary - thank you for a great year! You really tried your hardest to make everything as stress free as possible. I enjoyed every appearance I made this year.

I also want to thank Bob Lawton, the owner of Funspot for his generosity and willingness to support the Miss Winnipesaukee program.

I want to give a heartfelt thanks to Suzanne Knox, Brenda Keith, and Claudette Jolin, for all their hard work in making scholarships available to young women in New Hampshire. If I hadn't received the scholarship money that I was given from the Miss New Hampshire Organization, there is a very good chance that I would have never received my degree from Wheaton College.

I would also like to thank Don Anderson for telling it like it is, and Belinda Bridgeman. If it wasn't for Belinda I never would have gotten involved in this program. Her encouragement and faith has been unwavering over these past two years.

And Jacque and Howard Elles for their continued support and encouragement.

I was in the middle of my finals right before Miss New Hampshire this year, and I never would have gotten everything together if it wasn't for the help of Liz Lussier. This woman can make a mean chocolate cake, let me tell you. I am just blown away by the generosity of the people involved in this program.

Of course I want to thank all of the girls. Every single one of you has a special place in my heart.

I want to thank Jessica Morin for her magic hands. She was the only one that was able to zip up my dress at Miss New Hampshire.

I want to thank Keriann Lynch for being my emotional twin. I love telling everyone that I am friends with the best baton twirler in the world.

And Jessica Lenski for being my idol. She has this relationship with her pointe shoes that I wish I could duplicate, and an incredible work ethic. I'm 23 and I'm not embarrassed to admit that I look up to a 19 year old.

I could spend all night explaining how each one of the girls I have met in this organization has touched me in some way or another.

I was Candace Glickman's roommate two years ago at Miss New Hampshire. I was happy to have someone as experienced as Candace to show me the ropes. She was 4th runner up three years in a row, and knew the ins and outs of pageants. I'm so proud of her. She worked hard, never gave up and was rewarded with the title of Miss New Hampshire, and she deserved it.

Lastly, and most importantly I want to thank my mother. She's my best friend in the whole world. She's always there for me, and hardly ever complains. She's one of the strongest women I know. I may have lost my father 6 years ago, but she lost her sole mate. She is so strong. Any challenges we face, we face them together and nothing is going to stop us! I love you.

If I could give the new Miss Winnipesaukee any advice it would be learn how to spell Winnipesaukee and do it fast!

Thank you.