Time travel has been a fascination of mine for as far back as my mind reaches.  The eternal nostalgist, I wish humans had an ability to travel back in time, somehow re-experiencing the remarkable moments that impact our lives and forever change the very fabric of who we are.  Those pivotal moments usher the wind that steers our life’s sailboat; they grant us a bigger meaning and purpose that we never imagined was possible.  While we are not superhuman and cannot physically transport back in time, we have been given the ability to time travel under the guise of memories:  When our eyes close and we focus our attention on a particular time, we are miraculously transported.

Quieting my mind, I am closing my eyes and conjuring up every feeling, sense, and emotion that rushed through me exactly one year ago—I have transported to a night that marked the beginning of a great journey and adventure, for in this moment I became Miss Louisiana 2011. 

To say that this year has been nothing short of extraordinary would be quite the understatement.  Serving as Miss Louisiana afforded me the most incredible opportunities and granted me with precious memories I will, undoubtedly, continue reflecting upon for a lifetime. 

We can attribute the phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility” to Voltaire.  Likewise, Luke 12:48 says, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”  When that glimmering object was placed on my head, it became my mission to make the crown count, using it as a tool to achieve something far greater than myself.  Having been “divinely appointed” to this position, God not only gave me a crown as a tool, but also a far-reaching voice with a message that reached the masses. 

How many people get to frequently stand before teenagers as a role model and motivate them towards excellence?  Or fly on a mission to M.D. Anderson to serve as a companion to a cancer patient receiving a grueling chemo treatment?  Who gets to spend time in children’s hospital rooms where, on one occasion, you visit a delightful little boy who squeals upon your arrival, and on another occasion, you are the “real-life princess” to a beautiful little girl whose final moments are quickly approaching.  These poignant snapshots are memories from the past year, and they made a profound difference in my life and my outlook on the world. 

Every accomplishment behind my name can be greatly attributed to the sacrifice and generosity of people who invested their resources, love, insight, and time into my special dream, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

My family has truly served as the cornerstone for my every success:   Mom, Alan, Blake, Bonnie, Meghan, Meme, Dede, Aunt Auna, Hannah, Mari-Beth, Dad and Brenda, Mimee and Pappee:  You have shown me unconditional love and given me more validation and motivation than anyone.

Mom and Alan:  Your belief in me has been unwavering, from the first step I took on the Miss ULM stage to the Miss America stage, where I could actually see you in the Planet Hollywood audience, beaming with pride.  God gave me the most incredible, patient, selfless, encouraging parents and I am so glad we have run this race together!  

Thank you to the Miss America Organization and Miss Louisiana Organization for providing me with a forum in which I was encouraged to express my beliefs, showcase my talents, and secure scholarships that will enable me to continue my education. 

To every board member of the Miss Louisiana Organization—Year after year, you enhance the life of one lucky girl and expect absolutely nothing in return.  Each of you has been a blessing to me in more ways than one and taught me life lessons that will carry over into the future.  Thank you from the bottom, top, and all sides of my heart!

To our cherished sponsors who are the lifeblood to this organization—you have gone above and beyond to provide for all needs (not to mention wants, desires, and fancies) this year!  It has been an absolute pleasure working with each of you and I appreciate your generosity to the umpteenth degree!

I would like to acknowledge a special group of women who have made my year as Miss Louisiana:  Thank you to all my Miss Louisiana sisters—you wrote letters, sent flowers and emails, listened when I needed to vent, and served as a source of strength and encouragement.  I am so honored to even be in the same realm as you and look forward to the reunions we will share!

To Pilots for Patients and its founders, Philip and Sharon Thomas—My year has been enriched thanks to the work I have been able to do through PFP and the people I came in contact with.  Mr. Philip and Mrs. Sharon, you are simply outstanding people who never cease to amaze me with your benevolence and kind hearts.  I have experienced immense growth while serving as PFP’s official spokesperson and because of our friendship. You are a blessing to so many lives, but especially to mine!

Thank you to Holly Clegg and the Perry family for hosting my two Children’s Miracle Network Fundraisers in your lovely homes—with your help and the support from many people, we raised $40,503 that will give hope to Louisiana children, as well as a fighting chance! 

To a very special guy in my life who shared many moments with me this year:  Adam Lineberger, Louisiana’s 2011 CMN Champion, my partner in crime, and my security guard for all events we attended—I simply adore you.  You are a light, an inspiration, and an absolute joy.  Thank you for allowing me to share the spotlight on the Miss America stage with you!

My precious friends:  Lindsey, Brooke, and Kelsea—you three have the most beautiful souls.  With my every action, it is my intention to mirror the kindness, loveliness, and altruism that I recognize in each of you.  I love you to the moon and back... three times!

To my beloved state of Louisiana—It was an honor to represent you at Miss America! Finishing in the top ten was the most incredible thing, as was the amount of support that I received from back home!

To my successor—embrace your newfound adventure and make it a point to positively impact each person you reach this year.

Finally, I would like to thank my Divine Creator:  God has showered me with blessings this year and provided a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11) for my life.  To recount the words I uttered last year while being crowned, “I give You all the glory and honor.”

Possessing the title of Miss Louisiana 2011 has been an incomparable privilege.  It is my hope that I leave this organization even better than it was before my service, imparting a legacy of both service and hope to all whose paths I crossed.  I am delighted to have had the opportunity to contribute and fully devote myself to the state that I love, and will continue to time travel and reflect back on all the extraordinary moments for years to come. 

With infinite gratitude,

Hope Anderson
Miss Louisiana 2011


Holy Guacamole!

At the moment, avocado chunks are scattered across my bath rug—sure to be matted with all my hair that has collected there from countless blow-drying sessions...

Before you start thinking that imagery is all-too-much to handle, let me just go ahead and confess that whole hair-and-avocado situation is also on my head.  What possessed me to smear the flesh of this fruit into my locks, you ask?

Let me explain... My schedule has been jam packed with appearances and exciting events, as I am just moving into my third month on the job as Miss Louisiana!  As much as I'm relishing my time and duties as our state's official hostess... this, my friends, will leave a gal's hair in need of some serious attention!

All the rolling, teasing, ponytail-ing for workouts, bun-ing for ballet classes, crowning for appearances, and hair-spraying have left the tresses in distress... es...

So I took to the fridge and mixed up this little miracle concoction to bring them back to life...  It's supposed to stay on for thirty minutes, then you wash it out, and TAA DAAA — healthy hair! In the meantime, I'll have to tolerate it dripping on my neck every few seconds like chinese water torture...

Let me tell you about the places I've been and the people I've seen!  Just in the past few weeks, my Miss America talent costume was designed, my preps have intensified, I've had the pleasure of speaking to girls at RiverOaks, and I've visited Warhawk Stadium for both the Bayou Bowl and the ULM/Grambling game!  Also, I have traveled frequently to south Louisiana—almost once a week—for interview preps, a Bengal Belles luncheon, meeting Holly Clegg and planning a Children's Miracle Network fundraiser for October 2nd, and shooting television spots at Cox Communications in New Orleans.  These will air during LSU, SEC, Sun Belt Conference, NO Zephyrs, and the Saints games!  Speaking of the Saints, I was interviewed in Champion's Square by Fox 8's Dawn Brown at the Sept. 14th game and then watched them dominate the Bears from Benson's suite!  It was a memorable experience and one that will go down in the record books for this special year!

Last time I was in Baton Rouge, I visited Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital and met with several children who have benefitted from the Children's Miracle Network.  What an experience— going into a child's hospital room and stepping into his/her world for a brief, but hopefully significant and uplifting, moment.

That world is foreign to most of us—it's not everyday you meet a seven-year-old who has just completed his last round of chemo.  He notices you walking by and stops to give you a spirited hug, just as he boards the elevator to descend from oncology for the final time.  What an honor.

What a joy to walk into a little boy's room and see him squeal with excitement all because you've come for a visit.  He ignores his video game, immediately dropping the controller, and then—ironically enough—tells you he wants to be a video game programmer when he grows up.  His laugh is infectious as is his  joie de vivre.  

You're unprepared when you walk into a seventeen-year-old girl's room to find out she has ovarian cancer.  She tells you about her journey and her struggles.  Your first impulse is to wrap your arms tightly around her and remind her that God has a plan and a purpose for her life, so you tell her about Jeremiah 29:11, which is the bible verse you were named after.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

What a surprise to see a young girl with Cystic Fibrosis that you actually met a little over a year ago.  Her spunk and continuous smile make it easy to forget that she lives with an incurable disease that affects her lungs and digestive organs.  She and her precious mother have been there for weeks, but have the best attitude and are so gracious and kind to every individual who walks through the door.  

What a privilege to be in the presence of royalty as you visit a self-proclaimed but, might I say, completely authentic, "Prince."  The two of you play one of your favorite childhood games, "Operation," and you receive a royal smackdown... and wouldn't have it any other way.

These represent just a few stories of the remarkable children I spent time with on that special day.  They are receiving first-rate treatments at CMN hospitals and are given a fighting chance with whatever ailment they're facing, whether that's cancer, diabetes, a broken leg from a car accident, or being prematurely born.  I am overwhelmingly honored to be their ambassador this year.  I will do everything in my power to continue supporting and raising funds for a cause that I have seen give palpable hope to kids and their families in a time of need.  

In short, I truly am loving being in this position.  I'm reminded all the time of how God appointed me to this position for a reason,  for such a time as this...  Please continue to pray that the opportunity will present itself for me to spread love, joy, and a little hope!  You have no idea how much your prayers, words of encouragement, letters, hugs, and support mean to a girl whose mission is to give of herself, completely and passionately, for a whole year... Keep 'em coming!

In the meantime, please excuse me while I go wash this fruit out of my hair...

Love and blessings,

Hope Anderson
Miss Louisiana 2011



Today was a Fairytale

As I sit up late tonight, mulling over today's events (as I've often done since becoming Miss Louisiana), I can't help but marvel over this certain day because it's one I've dreamt of for quite some time: A Miss America gown was born today--my Miss America gown--and it's the most exquisite thing I've ever laid eyes on.

While watching Ashley Lenz (She and sister, Jennifer, of the Lenz Collection are designers of my Miss LA gown and THE Miss America dress) draw my abstract ideas to palpable life, I reflected about how many girls actually get this precious opportunity... of the 122 million women in the United States, an exclusive 53 will walk across that illustrious Miss America stage on January 14th in Las Vegas.

I had the distinct privilege of meeting these incredible women last week in Orlando, FL, as we all traveled there to support our sister queens at Miss America's Outstanding Teen. Allow me to brag a moment... Justine Ker, Miss Louisiana's Outstanding Teen, represented our state with beauty, enthusiasm, unrivaled talent, and class! Louisiana should be bursting with pride and gratitude from the achievements and contributions of this young lady. I am so honored to be your sister (x2), Justine, and am lucky to share this year with you and your family :)

Orlando was an incredibly fun week, chockfull of events for all the Miss America contestants. We had orientation, filmed videos and commercials, got treated like bonafide celebrities at Disney World, skipping all the way to the front of lines (who else can say they got to ride Space Mountain two times in a row?!), visited with Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan, and the Miss America Board, supported our teens each night of the prelims and also Finals night, and much, much more! I learned quite a bit and brought back valuable insights with me to the Bayou State, as I embark on this journey of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual preparedness for the Miss America competition, or Superbowl for Women, as I call it.

As much as I'd like to, I can't assure you that it's God's plan for me to be Louisiana's first Miss America. But I can promise you that I will work to the utmost in every area, aiming to evolve into the best Hope that's ever been, while committing to continue serving the state I love... Well, that and I'll promise one more thing: The gown is sure to be spectacular...

Can you feel the magic in the air? Must've been the way today was a Fairytale...


Ladies and Gentlemen, Drum Roll Please!

Hello, All! I hope this finds you in a cool place on this sweltering, 21st day of July!

I have something I'd like to share with you, but first (and more importantly), I'd like to wish the Miss LA Momma, Onna Gallagher, a very Happy Forty-Some-Number-I'm-Not-at-Liberty-to-Revealeth Birthday!!!!  I'm so lucky and delighted to be your daughter :) You're the prettiest, most gracious, loving, selfless, supportive, and fun-loving gal I know... And you have an amazing knack for finding little treasures on junky racks at Ross and T.J. Maxx, which I frequently benefit from!  Hoping this next year is your best one yet, Nonnie! Happy, happy birthday!

And now for the big announcement

I'm excited to reveal my official Miss Louisiana crown shot and Miss America head shot for the first time — I had the pleasure of shooting with THE Steven Palowsky, Miss Louisiana's official photographer,  who soared high above my greatest expectations and kept me laughing for the all-together 12 hours we shot!  Also, I must acknowledge his wonderful (and might I add very patient!) girlfriend, Cristina, who was the mastermind behind some very complicated photography stuff I can't really explain!  A multitude of thanks, Steven & Cristina!  We really had too many pictures to choose from and, of course, they put the world's most analytical girl (i.e. — Your's Truly) in charge of the final picks, but without further adieu...

Again, thank you to Steven and Cristina, and also Darris Waren, Dewana Little, Lynn Copeland, and my sweet Mom, the Birthday Girl, for being instrumental in all of this!


Did a Little Dance, Felt a lot 'o Love, Got Crowned Alright!

204 local contestants from around Louisiana narrowed down to:

35 remarkable young women.................... 

10 talented semi-finalists.......... 

 5 articulate contestants..... 

 4 impressive candidates.... 

 3 respectable contenders... 

 2 deserving ladies..  

1 blessed representative  

For the rest of my life, I'll attribute much significance and meaning to the day of Saturday, June 25, 2011:  A moment four years in the making, a wonderful celebration, a sweet victory, & the pinnacle of many years of {literally} blood, sweat, tears, and too much hairspray.  This day revised my future and was one for the record books.

It is with immense pride and gratification that I write this post to you, my supporters followers, as the newly crowned Miss Louisiana 2011.  Where to even begin?  I've been on an amazing journey the past four years — one that's had a handful of "low's" and an abundance of "high's"...  

Chapter One in my journey could've been suitably entitled, "Humble Beginnings."  The year was 2007 and, as a sophomore in college, I decided to enter the Miss University of Louisiana at Monroe pageant after watching the awe-inspiring Katherine Putnam win the previous year.  

Four facial burns (from a peel-gone-awry), some animal defecation on my talent costume (from laying it atop my car), and one gown from J-Mart (in case you were wondering, yes, that's a full downgrade from K-Mart...) later and I was a pageant girl!!!  I knew then that it would be an interesting ride...

But little did I know the experiences I'd have were sure to be the most rewarding, enjoyable, and humbling ones of my nearly twenty-three-year-old life.  The relationships I've found through the Miss Louisiana Organization are invaluable... fellow contestants, directors, families of contestants, Miss LA board members, and avid pageant enthusiasts — all of which make up a singular family that I cherish and am so proud to be a part of. 

If you think about it, many notable things occur in four-year cycles.  We attend high school for four years...  College lasts four years (well, at least for some of us it does!)...  A leap year occurs every four years to synch the calendar year with the solar year... Here in America, the presidential election falls every four years... The Olympic games run in four-year increments, giving athletes ample time to train and prove their dedication...  As it would turn out, my fourth year at Miss Louisiana proved to be the perfect timing, God's perfect timing.  Whoever said third time was the charm?

I believe when someone is given an incredible platform such as the title of Miss Louisiana, it's a divine appointment.  I've been placed in this position and given this voice to utilize it for a higher purpose.  From the time I was a girl until present, I have tried to make responsible decisions, live a virtuous life, and strived to maintain sterling character.  By no means have I been perfect at it; however, I knew someday these decisions would amount to something bigger than myself and that God would use me in ways I never thought possible.  It is my hope for the next year that I am given ample opportunity to impact lives and leave a positive impression on every individual I meet (and I will certainly need as many prayers as you can offer!) 

Immediately after being crowned Miss Louisiana, we hit the ground running with a media tour, workouts with my trainer, Rico Boyer, speaking at different events, getting the royal treatment from Dr. Hopkins Dermatology and my new hair dresser, Jana Norton, moving into the Miss Louisiana apartment, taking the official head and crown shots with the ever-amazing Steven Palowski, and making lots of decisions for Miss America (Still in shock that I'm going to THE Miss America Pageant!  *Insert wide-eyed, open-mouthed look of disbelief!) 

Here are some of the highlights:

 My best friends, Lindsey, Kelsea, and Brooke the night I became Miss Louisiana : ) These ladies have been there through it all and offered so much encouragement and love along the way.  Couldn't have done it without them!

Alexandra Cranford, KNOE-TV8's morning anchor

The first to try on the crown:  Kyle Myers, KNOE's morning meteorologist
I think he's got the crowning face down pat!

Being interviewed at KEDM

Getting miked up!

The uber-amazing Farrah Reyna, KNOE's evening anchor 

With my KNOE fam!  Clay, Emily, David, & Chris

Waiting to be interviewed by KTVE's Rick Adams

At the desk with Rick

Careful, Captain!!!

the lovely Kristen Blair, Miss Texas 2009

Dr. Larkin Page, official Miss TX fitness coach

Grabbing lunch in Dallas with two very special ladies:  Ashley and Jennifer Lenz, the designers of my red evening gown!  Love these girls!

One of the many perks of being Miss LA 2011 — iPad 2!!!

Emergency pit stop at the closest Mississippi hair salon... Jana, where are you when I need you?!

Leroy, our strong and fearless protector... and the man who gives us a front row parking spot!

With Gracey... Such a cutie patootie!

The incredible Taryn Foshee, Miss MS 2006 and former judge of mine, emceed the pageant.  I remember watching her in Miss America when I was a freshman in college and just falling in love with her! So honored to know this woman...

Behind the scenes at the Steven Palowsky shoot with Lynn Copeland's precious grand-baby : )

Assuming an incognito look...

With a special group of ladies at "It's All About Me" Junior League workshop for 10-14 yr. olds.
We talked about how to "Love the Skin You're In" and it was great getting to know each of them!!!


Show me your serious face...

Senator Francis Thompson and Senator Neil Riser

 Rep. Noble Ellington & Rep. Kay Kellogg Katz

 Senator Mike Walsworth

Mayor Mayo and friends

Judging by the number of appearances I've had in just 3 and 1/2 weeks, my year of service promises to be busy and exciting one but no matter how hectic it gets, it is my mission to make the crown count.  I aim to serve our state, the people of Louisiana, and all of you — my friends, family, fans, and encouragers — with dignity and grace, leaving a legacy as the greatest Miss Louisiana this state has yet to see.  If there is anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to contact me at hopeanderson@yahoo.com.  In the meantime, I sincerely hope you'll follow along as I embark on this newfound adventure! 

With endless gratitude,

Hope Anderson, Miss Louisiana 2011


"Spin for CMN"--A Children's Miracle Network fundraiser

My fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network, "Spin for CMN," is this Friday at the Monroe Athletic Club and you are officially invited!  Here's a clip from my visit to KNOE this morning, where I talked about the upcoming event.

The Miss America Organization and Children's Miracle Network are partnered, and as a Miss Louisiana contestant, I help raise funds and awareness for this wonderful non-profit that has already raised over $4 billion dollars this year, which helps to ease the burden from sick/injured children and their families. It's an honor and privilege to be associated with such an incredible cause, and over the past 3 and 1/2 years, I've met the most inspirational kids who've had a profound impact on my life.  

Justin Jarreau was Louisiana's Miracle Child in 2008 (the year I first won a prelim) and he was the special guest at my first fundraiser, "I Dance for Hope for the Kids of CMN."  We met and spent an afternoon together before the event, where I heard all about his story, "From Tragedy to Triumph."  Justin was in a tragic car accident that left him without a part of his brain and, as a result, doctors predicted he would never regain motor skills.  

With lots of fervent prayer, a loving family, and treatments from a CMN hospital, this resilient boy went from not being able to walk, speak, or function independently at all, to running, uttering "I love you's" to his mom, and living a life that every child--especially this one--deserves.  Justin defied every doctor's original prognosis and beat all the odds... Truly a triumph, and one his mother said never would have been possible without his treatments--none of which cost the Jarreau's a dime--at a CMN hospital. 

This Friday, I hope to raise as much money as possible for kids like Justin who need a hope, a prayer, and a triumph.  If you're around the Monroe area and free from 8:00 a.m. to noon, come join us and ride in honor of a Louisiana child and contribute to the miracles happening around our state.  If you aren't able to come, but still want to contribute, you can visit: 

Your generous donations are appreciated and will benefit so many deserving kids in need of quality care and attention from premiere hospitals--Thank you!


It's Crunch Time

Four weeks from this past Monday, I check in to the Miss Louisiana dorms and the exciting week will begin!  This means that for the next month, I've got to give 150% percent to preparing for Miss LA. It's crunch time!!!!

Speaking of crunch, who doesn't like a good crunchy, salty chip?  You can dip it, dunk it, crumble it, throw it in soup, or nibble on 'em straight from the bag... I don't know about you, but I can't just eat a plain 'ole sandwich without some kind of crunchy side.  So, what's a girl to do when it's crunch time but she can't have her crunch? Two words:  kale chips.

What's this kale I speak of?  Well, it's a leafy green that's chock full of antioxidants, rich in lutein, calcium, iron, & vitamins A, C, and K, plus it's calorically low (one cup is 37 cals.)!  Oh, and kale has seven times more beta-carotene (i.e. prevents cancer, protects you from free radicals--can you say wrinkles?--and supports healthy eyes, clear skin, and stronger immune system!) than broccoli.  Is there anything this superfood can't do?  

Baked Kale Chips:

1 bunch kale
1 tbsp olive oil 
sprinkle o' sea salt

Preheat oven to 300°.  Wash kale, lay flat to dry, and then remove tough center stem by cutting or tearing large chunks off.  

I used my Misto--a genius little gadget--to lightly spray the kale, but you can lightly toss with olive oil in a bowl. 

 Spread kale in single layer on large baking sheet (covered mine in parchment paper for simple cleanup) and bake for 20 minutes until crisp.  Allow kale chips to cool on a baking rack.  Time to crunch. 

    On a different note, at 6:00 a.m. this morning I was on KNOE-TV8 talking about "Spin for CMN," my upcoming fundraiser for this Children's Miracle Network.  Video and details to come later in the day!