I cannot believe it is Holiday time again… another year has come and gone! And what a year it has been! Fortunately, the health issues of 2007 did not return in 2008! Instead, we endured
fires and earthquakes. We were spared major damage and devastation but many of our neighbors were not as lucky. We are so
grateful to emergency workers for their brave and compassionate assistance.
The Miss America finals returned to the Planet Hollywood resort and Mom & I returned as well. We enjoyed our Vegas
excursion which included encounters with several former titleholders including Lee Meriwether (CA, 1955); Phyllis George (TX,
1971); Heather Whitestone (AL, 1995); Shawntel Smith (OK, 1996) Heather French
(KY, 2000) Katie Harman (OR, 2002); Erika Dunlap (FL, 2004) and Deidre Downs (AL, 2005), who took a few days off from her
medical studies, among others…
Kirsten Haglund was the winner from Michigan. Tune in on January 24, 2009 when TLC (formerly the Learning Channel) airs MISS AMERICA LIVE! from Las Vegas’
Planet Hollywood resort. We plan to be there! TLC also plans to air “COUNTDOWN TO THE CROWN,” a four-part reality
series, featuring 2009 State Titleholders, beginning January 2.
Miss USA 2008 was also crowned at the Planet Hollywood Resort. My sister and brother-in-law, Jeanne & Gary,
joined Mom & I as they had at Miss America. What a time we had! Nevada State Director, Maureen Atwell, hosted “Fashion
Rocks the Universe,” a party/fashion show featuring most of the 2008 State Teen-USA titleholders, and many former national
and international titleholders! It was a blast. Thanks, Maureen!
The winner, Chrystle Stewart, Miss Texas-USA was a great choice. And I had a great seat to see her spectacular crowning thanks to Paula Shugart,
president of The Miss Universe Organization. It was an amazing experience, which I hope to repeat at the 2009 Miss USA pageant
April 19, also from the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, but this time televised live only on NBC!
Many thanks to Paula Shugart, Rachel Frimer, Lark-Marie Anton, Esther Swan, Gail Holmes, Tami Farrell (Miss
Teen-USA ’03), her Mom, Stephanie; Chelsea Cooley-Altman (Miss USA ’05), Rachel Smith (Miss USA ’07), Hilary
Cruz (Miss Teen-USA ‘07, Riyo Mori (Miss Universe ’07), Katie Blair (Miss Teen-USA 2006) , Shawn Mc Clain and everyone at the MUO for their special help at these events; and even more for
their friendship and support throughout the year.
The pageant year ended with the honor of supporting my friend Tami Farrell, Miss Malibu-USA 2009 as she competed
for the title of Miss California-USA in Palm Springs. Tami finished 1st Runner-up and was named Miss Photogenic.
We’re so proud.
We know great things are ahead, Tami! Thanks to the folks at Riviera Resort and K2 productions, especially Keylee
Sanders, Shanna Moakler & John, for their kindness and help!
the Summer, we attended the wonderful annual fan luncheon Of “General Hospital’s” Rick Hearst. Rick’s
event is always great, but I this year I felt an even greater warmth and “sense of family” than ever before; so
I want to thank Rick, his wife, Donna; his Mom, Ann; Donna’s Mom, Esther, Rick and Donna’s sons’ Nick &
Cameron; as well as fan-club president, Debby O’ Connor, for all their love and support, not only at these events but
at various times throughout 2008! … I am even more indebted to Rick for introducing me to HARK (Healing Arts Reaching
Kids), a creative arts program for patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and to Karen Prommer, the wonderful
woman who runs the program. Having been hospitalized when I was a child, I can tell you these programs are very important
for the kids, both physically and emotionally. I really enjoyed my time with Rick and the gang at HARK’s annual fund-raiser
in Beverly Hills! It’s great to help such a worthy cause! To find out more, please visit my website @ http://rickhearst.jhbonline.net or Rick’s @ http://www.rickhearst.tv
Last minute pageant news..I just served on a mock interview
panel which helped prepare Jackie Geist,
Miss California for MISS AMERICA 2009 in Vegas (as well as some local-level contestants
for Miss Placentia & Outstanding Teen 2009) Jackie was awesome-watch for her... All the young ladies were awesome!
I learned so much! Thanks to Executive Director, Kathi Baldwin for this wonderful opportunity.
Now I know why I believe in pageants so strongly!
Ours was a year of mixed blessings. It taught us to appreciate all we have and hope for the best for next year. We
love and appreciate all of you. You are truly “family” to us. We wish you peace, health and prosperity in 2009!
Joann, John and Shandi
The Baker Family