It was truly a beautiful day when the 2014 Miss America contestants visited Walt Disney World Resort last week. For the first time since winning their state crowns, all 53 contestants (including Miss District of Columbia, Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Virgin Islands) came together to visit Magic Kingdom Park for some fun, relaxation and bonding. The girls were swept off their feet by Gaston in New Fantasyland, took a spin on the Mad Tea Party and thrilled guests by leading the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade down Main Street, U.S.A.
Spending a few hours with the contestants you realize how intelligent, talented and beautiful they are. As Sam Haskell, Chairman and CEO of the Miss America Organization, told me, “these girls are the best of what America has to offer.”
You can only imagine how tough it was for me to accept this assignment and produce a story featuring 53 Miss America contestants. As cool as I tried to play it I knew I was the luckiest guy in the department. It was the assignment everyone volunteered to help with, but I had it covered. Here is a look at our day, including a friendly off-stage competition between Miss Florida and Miss California that went “to infinity and beyond.”
The contestants will gather again next month in Atlantic City for the 2014 Miss America Competition. The first night of competition begins September 10 and culminates on the final night on Sunday, September 15, which airs live on ABC, 9:00 p.m. ET. But before the girls cross the stage, make sure you tune-in at 8:00 p.m. ET to ABC’s 20/20 hour-long special featuring the Miss America contestants and there journey leading up to their big night.
What do you get when you combine the magic of runDisney with some of the most passionate Disney fans in the world? A runDisney D2.3 Fun Run kicking off the D23 Expo in style.
Last Friday, a select group of D23 members had the unique opportunity to sample the runDisney experience. Attendees enjoyed an early morning 2.3 mile fun run through Disney California Adventure park, and a meet and greet with Sorcerer Mickey and Ali Vincent, host of “Live Big With Ali Vincent” and season 5 winner of the “Biggest Loser.” Participants also received a runDisney Mickey Vinylmation with a limited edition D23 medal.
It’s always exciting to provide these runDisney experiences for runners and to share photos and video of this event with you.
Not only does Astin love runDisney events but also loves the runners that participate. He was very generous with his time at the races and at the expo for photos, autographs and entertaining the crowd. Much to my surprise he even showed up in “character” for the 5K wearing Tinker Bell wings and a sparkle skirt. Now, he may deny that fact in public, but the video below has the evidence.
As runners we run for different reasons. Astin runs for what he calls #Run3rd. What that means is he runs first for himself, second for his family and third for anyone that tweets him and asks for a special run dedication.
I think anyone having the chance to meet him last weekend will agree, Sean Astin is a great guy, loves running and loves runDisney. But judge for yourself, let him tell you in his own words.
If I am not running in a runDisney event you will find me at my second favorite place – the finish line. It’s there I find inspiration and a reminder of why I run. Of course it’s exciting to see the winners glide across the finish line with ease, and admire faster runners setting personal records, but for me the thrill is seeing the smiles, laughter, cheers and tears of runners finishing in the middle and at end of the pack. Whether they are doing it for themselves, for a specific cause or in honor of someone who can’t run, they set a goal, achieve it and make their dreams come true. Winners train to win – these runners train to finish.
It’s because of that determination, beating the odds, that I find myself cheering louder for the last place finishers than I do for the first place winner. On Sunday at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort, after the bleachers cleared and confetti from the winners blew around on the ground, I got to cheer on my newest runDisney hero, Jenna Boyd from Wisconsin. Fighting the clock and turning down offers for rides by race staff, she fought her way to the finish line and was greeted with a welcome fit for a champion. You see at a runDisney event, finishing last is just as special as finishing first.
Please allow me to introduce you to my hero Jenna Boyd.
Standing at the start and finish lines of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort this past weekend I was reminded how awesome runDisney runners are. Not only in regards to the countless miles logged in training, their excitement at the start and tears of joy at the finish, but for their creativity. The costumes at this weekend’s race were outstanding!
From Tinker Bell to Snow White to Pocahontas, runners revealed their inner princess and personality. Surprising to some it wasn’t just the women, men got in the act by growing wings and flying around the 13.1 mile course.
Standing at the finish line you could quickly see our runners have “character.” Let me introduce you to a few of my new friends and celebrate their colorful creativity.
For more information about future runDisney events and to register for a race, go to www.rundisney.com.
Adding to the excitement of both event weekends has been the debut of the new Mickey and Minnie-themed runDisney shoes. The running shoe is part of a new alliance making New Balance the official running shoe of runDisney. The response has been amazing.
Recently, I traveled to the New Balance offices in Boston to talk with the designers behind the runDisney shoe. I wanted to find out what went into creating the footwear and where designers found their inspiration. It was interesting to hear how Disney childhood memories played a role in the final product.
Currently these new running shoes can only be purchased at runDisney Expos, including this weekend’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon and next month’s Disney Princess Half Marathon.