We live in the land of the FREE because of the BRAVE.

I love the 4th of July. Everything about this holiday excites me, from backyard cookouts with family members to deciding which was the best firework of the display. It’s just a fun day no matter how you spin it. So, of course I spent the day with loved ones and did lots of fun 4th of July things, but I also took the time to thank not only those who have previously served, but those who are serving in our military today. I also spent some time in Middletown, Delaware at the local 4th of July festival supporting the non-profit groups of Delaware.

Image

Even with all the fun and excitement, I couldn’t help but think back to a few months ago when I visited some of the wounded warriors. Their strong willed spirit still lives with me daily and I felt the presence of each one of the brave men and women I met that day all day on the 4th. I know it’s easy to get caught up in a holiday and you aren’t a bad person if you do get wrapped up in the fun, but please, take the time right now to thank someone who is serving or has served. After all, we are the land of the free because of the brave.

photo

XO!

Image

Miss International Questions and Answers. Get to know me! :)

Image

What is the best thing that you have received that was free?

Perspective. I am grateful for the people who enter my life and change my thought process. Over the years I have become more compassionate and I owe that to everyone who has told me his or her story and changed my perspective on life. With changed perspective I have learned to be thankful for all of life’s gifts.

What do you do that makes you a leader?

This year I started an Autism Speaks U Chapter at my university. This took my leadership skills to another level. My advisor warned me that it would not be an easy task, but I assured her I was up for the challenge. I contacted Autism Speaks, formed a direct relationship with the organization, recruited members and successfully held my first event, which raised over $800 for Autism research. I also was able to raise $500 for literature materials to be distributed locally filled with autism signs and symptoms, facts and statistics.

What do you feel most successful women have in common?

Passion. I feel that successful women do all things with passion and I believe that if you are passionate about your cause, you will find success. People can see and feel the passion you exude and they want to be part of it because they see the drive and joy you are receiving from your cause.

Tell me about an experience that has been educational to you.

My upbringing was very special because my parents were also foster parents. I can remember being 6 years old and not wanting to share my home or my toys with my new siblings, but this quickly went away when I learned how important this home was for my foster siblings. This gave me the unique opportunity to learn to share my home and family with many other children while learning to be open and empathetic. I also consider my previously foster and now adopted sister, Miriam, to be my very best friend.

What is your best asset? Why?

During my internships with Senator Carper and Autism Delaware, I found myself doing a lot of event planning and fundraising because I’m very friendly and approachable. My previous manager once joked that I was their ‘secret weapon’ since I could handle logistics, raise attendance rates and book the venue, singlehandedly. 

Autism Speaks to Young Professionals Event

Image

Recently I was invited to attend Autism Speaks to Young Professionals. The event took place on Saturday, June 15th at Paul’s Tavern in Belmar. There were 150 attendees and over $8,000 was raised for Autism. Image

I spent the afternoon mingling with attendees and telling my story. I also collected signatures for a Comprehensive National Plan to Autism.  I loved having this opportunity to discuss the current plan and how a national plan would offer benefits to families and individuals throughout the United States.

Image

Thank you to Co-Chairs Matt Teitjan and Sean Vidolin for organizing the event and Thank you Autism Speaks for inviting me to attend  as a special guest. It is a great pleasure continuing our partnership and I look forward to the walk in a few short months!

Image

Miss Delaware International visits Capitol Hill

Today I spent the day in Washington, DC. In the morning I joined Dr. Jill Biden as she read her new book, “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops”, at the Library of Congress in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Thomas Jefferson Building. After, I spent time speaking with Mrs. Biden and her grand daughter.

 Image

It was an honor to be a part of such a remarkable day. Military children from all over the area filled the auditorium and after the event I had the chance to get to know many of the them while I signed autographs and took photos.

Image

In the afternoon I began my Congressional visits on Capitol Hill in the Cannon House Office Building and later stopped in and spoke with Congressman Doyle and Congressmas Carney.  It was great to hear what Congressman Doyle was doing to benefit Autism and he filled me in on his new endeavors. 

Image

 

Image

 

I of course had to stop in and say hello to Congressman Carney and thank him for all he does for Delaware. It was nice visiting his DC office; I hadn’t seen him since last year’s parade when I interned with Senator Carper on his re-election campaign.

Image

Autism Delaware’s Drive for Autism

Image

Once a year NASCAR drivers, sports announcers and other celebrities gather right here in Delaware to raise money for a great cause. This year the Annual Drive for Autism raised  over $506,000. Thats half a million dollars to benefit autism services in Delaware!

Image

I spent the afternoon talking with my friends at Autism Delaware and riding on the golf course with my undergraduate classmate and great friend, Troy Nuss, of Autism Delaware.

Image

A big CONGRATULATIONS to the winner of the celebri-tweet challenge: Hermie Sadler! He had the most votes in the challenge to raise awareness on twitter. Go Hermie!!

Image

A big thank you to some of the wonderful guys I spent time with on the course: Hermie Sadler, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne, Rick Allen, Michael Waltrip, JJ Yeley and Vince Papale. And of course, Thank you to the wonderful people at Autism Delaware especially Deanna Principe, the master mind behind the entire Drive for Autism planning. Image

On a Sunday Afternoon in DC I was teaming up with the Washington Nationals and Autism Speaks.

On Sunday I attended the Washington National’s game to benefit Autism Speaks. It was in section 203 that I spent the afternoon surrounded by autism families, advocates and supporters watching a great game between the Phillies and the Nat’s. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day.

Image

Major League Baseball teamed up with Autism Speaks, in a league-wide effort to recognize Autism Awareness. The MLB Autism Awareness games throughout the league will provide special opportunities and a safe, friendly environment for families and individuals affected by autism.

Image

It’s great to see the MLB teaming up with Autism Speaks. “Autism affects many of our fans and members of the baseball family,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “Many Clubs are longstanding supporters of the autism community. As an extension of those efforts, Major League Baseball is very proud to educate our fans through the MLB Autism Awareness initiative.”

Image

Please be sure to check your local Ballpark to see if they are teaming up with Autism Speaks so you can attend and support as well. A portion of all sales goes directly to Autism Speaks.

XO,

Crystal

Wrapping up my first year for Autism Speaks U

Here it is, a sneak peak into my email box…

Image

Receiving this email from Shauna and Jaclyn thanking me for my work for Autism Speaks U was the perfect ending to my day. I had just finished collecting data for awareness brochures to be distributed to local businesses when the email arrived. I was so happy to read that there are now 75 official and provisional Autism Speaks U chapters! Imagine how many people are learning about autism via chapter members. The thought alone makes me smile instantly!

Not only that, but together Autism Speaks U chapters have raised over $180,000. Think about how much $180,000 is. How many individuals with autism that can help. AHH 🙂 I can’t wait to see the stats next year.

This is what drives me..Knowing that a chapter I started at my university helped contribute to that large sum. It’s just proof that when we all work together, the sky is the limit. Thank you to my advisors, peers, friends and family for supporting this endeavor. It has meant the world to me.