Since February 28, 2009, I have been blessed to wear this beautiful crown and carry the title of Miss North Carolina International. Over 150 events, over 500 hours of volunteer work, I traveled over 12,000 miles across this state and this country to help raise awareness, promote my platform, make a difference, and in the process raising almost $1.5 million dollars for organizations in North Carolina.
This year has been nothing short of amazing. I attended countless numbers of events, galas, fundraisers, celebrations, sporting events, and concerts. I made hundreds of speeches, had lots of fun photo shoots, TV and radio interviews, I signed thousands of autographs and my jaw will hurt till the Miss NC International pageant in 2015 from all the pictures I have taken this year! But since that crowning moment, I have had the time of my life. I love North Carolina, and I love this country, our country. Several events this year stick out in my mind that I will always remember and cherish: Working with the USO-NC, meeting the courageous men and women of our military who fight for our freedom- Thank you, I am forever grateful for your service. I was also grateful to meet so many of these military personal at events all over, including a special trip to celebrate the 4th of July at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. I was given a flag that day flown for me for operation freedom in Afghanistan, by Captain Andrew Ladd. I sat in his strike eagle fighter jet that day at the base; words cannot express how proud I am to say I am an American. With Make A Wish, I was part of a wish for a terminally ill, beautiful little princess, Lila. For the Special Olympics a team of five, myself included pulled a 40,000 lbs. airplane for the summer games, in 18.9 seconds. I have been lucky to share events and work together with my friend, Miss USA Kristen Dalton, along with Miss Teen NC USA, Miss NC’s OT, and Miss NC MAO. I have had opportunities abound this year through meeting Jack Hannah, Usher, American Idol Winner David Cook, John O’Donnell, NBC Today Show Co-Host Hota Kotb, Neil Bush, Timothy Shriver, Congressman and House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senator Mitch McConnel, The Honorable Elaine Chao, and met with our elected officials: Senator Richard Burr and Congressman Howard Coble, in Washington D.C., to find out more and help with the Service America Act and National Volunteer week! During my White House Internship, President Bush always said, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” This call to service was the passion behind my platform, my volunteer work, and my year as Miss NC.
I couldn’t have done it without my heavenly father. He gives me the strength and guidance, unconditional love and grace to make it through every day with my heart in the right place. I wouldn’t have made it without the continual love and support from my family either. My Mom, my best friend, my assistant, my photographer, my everything, I would not be the person I am today without you. I credit every accomplishment to you and Dad. You are the most beautiful person I know, and I love you more than anything. Dad-maybe one day we will tell you how much these dresses cost! I am so much like you Dad, you continue to inspire me to give back and do great things, as you lead by example. I love you both so very much, thank you for everything. Kelly- my beautiful sister, Roll Tide. I am so proud of you, even though you are a few state away from me, I know you are still my right hand. You are always there for me, thank you. I love you seeessterr! To the rest of my family, you are all my biggest fans, you never miss a beat, or a picture. You all have loved and supported me since day one, and I wouldn’t have made it this far without each and everyone of you. I love you all so much. To my close friends who stand behind me through thick and thin, words cannot express how blessed I am to have you all in my life, thank you for being here. When I traveled to Chicago to compete at Miss International, I met so many esteemed young women, changing lives and making a difference. My competition came to fruition as I was named a top ten finalists and favorite online contestant award winner. I met so many great new friends there, I thank them for the wonderful experience and lifelong relationships we will have together. I had full confidence in myself throughout the national competition because of my family and friends. You all helped me get there financially and emotionally, you all helped me succeed; for that to all of you, I am so grateful. To the Richardson’s and the international pageant family, you are wonderful, benevolent, fascinating people. Thank you for holding such a great pageant, your titleholders all are steadfast in their accomplishments and so lucky to have you as directors. Joy, my fabulous director of the year- you are so much fun, and so dedicated. Thank you for helping me make this year all it could be. I love you Miss thing! Christina, you and your family have left an indelible mark on my heart. I am so proud of you and all you have done to raise money and awareness to save children’s lives, making it so that Cora’s memory will live in our hearts forever. Love you sistah! Ladaria, I love you girlfriend, you kept me in check this year, and always gave me the motivation I needed. You and your family are always in my thoughts, I love you guys. Continue to share your beautiful voice with the world; you have such a great story. Jaime, thank you for everything! Wow, your dresses and your hospitality always made me feel like a queen. You are the best, I love you! To the rest of my pageant family, and all our sponsors, Tim this most certainly includes you, you are all amazing, wonderful, kind hearted people. My life is so much better with each of you in it. Thank you for a perfect year! This perfect year couldn’t have been all it was without the help of the organizations I am honored to say I represented this year. A huge thank you to all of the organizations, the staff, and of course the volunteers that helped them and believed in their mission. The Volunteer Center in Greensboro, Hands on Network, and Points of Light Foundation; thank you Leigh and Hollie Rose, you both instilled in me the importance of the purpose of these organizations and why I love the volunteer world! The USO-NC, John, Michael, Dawn, my little brother Brinson, Katie, Erin, Sandy, Georgina, Gia; your work for our troops is an inspiration, I love you guys, we always have so much fun, thank you for putting me to work and believing in me. Make A Wish, thank you Don, Cookie, and the Clark Family; you all have opened my eyes to such a beautiful foundation that puts so many smiles on children’s faces and makes dreams come true, it was a life changing year working with you all. And reaching 2500 wishes for this chapter, is an amazing fete, thank you for including me. Gateway education center, Jill Jenkins, thank you these children have touched every part of my life; I loved those kids so much. Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Julie Melton, you are such a dear lady, thank you for your kinds words and uplifting message. My little, James, I have learned so much about myself through helping you, spending time with you and your classmates has been so much fun! The Autism Society of NC, Kay Walker and Tina, my participation over the years and this year has been such a blessing, you ladies are so special to me! FRIENDS for an earlier breast cancer test- founder and my friend, Martha Kaley and her staff and volunteers, thank you. Martha- you are one of the most amazing women I have ever met; I am privileged to know you. Your hard work and dedication to this cause and what you believe in continues to inspire me to work for what I believe in, I love you. Thank you to Victory Junction Gang Camp, American Cancer Society, Boys and Girls Clubs, Goodwill Industries, Go Red for Women Campaign, The American Red Cross, the NC Special Olympics-thank you President Keith Fishburne; Habitat for Humanity, Children Home Society; the NC National Guard, and Seymour Johnson Airforce Base. Thank you all for your hard work to change the lives in America. I loved being able to use my voice and this year as a platform to help your causes. I believe in all you are doing, and I will continue to help and support you in every way I can. All of these amazing people and organizations have taught me the importance of giving back to my community. We all have the power to make a difference. When I won last year, I promised myself I would be the best Miss North Carolina I could be, and I have done just that. So to the next Miss North Carolina International, this year will be what you make of it, so I hope you dance- remember to be humbled and to work hard, you do have the power to make a difference in the lives of others, serve a cause greater than yourself. I know I reached out to so many lives, because each of those lives touched my life more than they could imagine. It would be impossible to thank everyone that has done so for my reign as Miss North Carolina International. So I thank the wonderful people of this state, and the thousands and thousands of people across North Carolina and beyond that I met and spoke with this year, I have learned so much, I witnessed true patriotism and generosity and for that I will continue to share my message and take with me so many life lessons as I open the next chapter of my life. This year, my family, my old friends and new friends, and all the hard work has been tantamount to nothing I have ever accomplished thus far, they all have a special place in my heart. Every person, every child, every smile, every hug, every picture, will always remind of this wonderful year. With the mentality that everyone wins when you volunteer, I will continue my work and message lifelong. I am excited about the future; I am determined and dedicated to making an impact and a difference in this world and in the lives of the American people. I will always use my voice to help others, continuing to set an example for younger generations. So, mark my words, this will not be the last you hear of me, I am not going anywhere. With a move to DC, grad school, and big plans in store, I believe anything and everything is possible with perseverance and pragmatism. This has truly been the time of my life, a year I will always remember fondly, and cherish all the memories. I love you all, and I cannot thank you all enough for making my year and dream of being Miss North Carolina International a reality and a beautiful dance. As I take my final walk as the reigning titleholder, I will always be Julie Tesh, Miss North Carolina International 2009.