Thank You!

Today I write my last blog for my year as Miss ND International 2011 with a heavy heart but at the same time a smile on my face because I know in a couple days one incredible lady will receive this same opportunity in which her life will be forever changed. It is hard to believe that it has already been a year since I heard the words that would open a whole new chapter in my life. I had won the title of Miss ND International 2011 and to this day no words could ever express how I felt at that exact moment! I remember looking out into the crowd with tears of happiness rolling down my face, at my family and friends who were full of smiles, a few tears, and they all looked at me with such pride. I still cannot help but think that without their endless support I am not entirely sure if I would have been standing up on that stage that very night having a crown placed on my head. The rest of the night seemed to pass by so quickly, I was on cloud nine. It seemed as if nothing could bring me down.  It was not until the next day that it really sunk in that I had won and would be advancing on to the national competition in July, 2011 where I would go on to make the top ten and win the People’s Choice Award. The next year of my life would be solely devoted to representing the State of North Dakota the best that I could by training daily for the national competition, attending a variety of different events, teaming up with the North Dakota American Heart Association to educate and spread awareness, and most importantly continuing my six year journey of combating human trafficking.  

This past year I have truly come to understand how important the little things in life can be, not only for me but for other people as well. I bring this up because at each appearance I made, there was always someone who was willing to share their own personal story with me, whether it was a older war veteran who at a young age witnessed events that we now read about in history books, a little boy that had survived multiple heart surgeries before the age of three, or a little girl who at a young age fell victim to modern day slavery. What amazes me about so many of the people I met was there positive outlook on life. For the little girl, her goal was to someday compete in a pageant, for the war veteran it was keeping the memory of his wife alive. I cannot express how many courageous people I met this past year but I realize that a lot of it would not have been possible without my title. The memories and experiences of this past year have not only made me a stronger more confident person but will stay with me forever. 

I now realize that we all have the power to make a difference, for me I will continue to be an abolitionist against modern day slavery and may possibly start my own non-profit organization in North Dakota. A year ago, I would have never thought that I would be strong enough to do this, but I know now that the sky is the limit and if you want something or truly want to make a change, you need to work hard and never give up hope. On Saturday, I will be giving a formal farewell speech but before I do that I have a few last words I would like to share. Before I end this chapter I want to extend a huge thank you to all of the people in my life that have always believed in me and have stood by me 100% this past year. I hope you know who you are and I just want to tell you that without all of your incredible support I would not have grown to be the person I am today. There were moments when I just needed a good cry, a hug, or some extra words of encouragement and you were all there. 

Besides having an amazing support system, one of the most important things that I learned from this incredible journey is that you have to have faith.  It was Eleanor Roosevelt that said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” As this chapter of my life comes to an end I will continue to have faith and I will continue to follow my dream of making a change in this world when it comes to ending modern day slavery. I know in my heart that the many great experiences and memories I have gained from my year as Miss ND International 2011 will continue to stay with me forever.

Yours truly,
Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011

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