You Don’t Need a Cape to Be a Hero

A requirement of competing in the Miss America system is the adaptation of a Personal Platform. For the past few seasons I have chosen to promote and advocate for blood donation. The 2014 season’s platform is entitled: You Don’t Need a Cape to Be a Hero.

Imagine a typical American family. A mother and father sit on a bench in a park while their two children are playing on a playground. Both parents have a good paying job, the children do well in school and play sports. They are living the American dream. But for this seemingly perfect family members, life is about to hit a wall. Statistics say that one of the Smiths will need a blood transfusion. But blood cannot be manufactured, it needs to be donated. Without blood donation, Sally will not survive, and the whole Smith family’s life will change forever.

As a third generation blood donor, my grandmother’s commitment to donating for the duration of her life impacted my choice to donate blood. Everyone has a reason for choosing whether or not to donate. Although there are viable reasons not to donate, like age and weight requirements, medications, and travel limitations, there are also excuses. The number one reason people do not donate is because they have never been asked.

The problem with donation is that there is a disconnect with the “why” people need to donate. For many high school and college donors, the motivation is immediate. Get out of class or Points on an assignment. But for those waiting on a transfusion, their donation means so much more. It is a matter of life and death. It is crucial to express the importance of donation, not only with the immediate benefits, but the longterm benefits of becoming a lifetime blood donor.

Increasing the first time donors is possible by connecting with high school students, sparking their “why”, and developing a lifetime commitment to donating. Nearly 20% of blood donors are in high school. Age eligibility requirements allow New York donors to be as young as 16 with parental permission. By working with high schools to hold semi-annual blood drives, we can increase the percentage of students who begin to donate. Then, with a positive donation experience, these first time donors become lifetime donors. This younger generation of new lifetime donors will help to develop a strong network to replenish the donors who are aging out of eligibility.

Winning a title is not a ticket to Miss New York, but a full time year long job, that comes with responsibility. I am prepared and ready to take on this responsibility. As a titleholder, I will work for the duration of my reign to promote not only my personal platform and the national platform of the Children’s Miracle Network, but also to promote the Miss America Organization to increase the support and awareness across the state. I am already active in the community, and winning a title will further extend the outreach through my three-part personal marketing strategy. During my reign I will strengthen the relationship with the current sponsors, and work to increase the community support to gain additional sponsors for the upcoming year. I will partner with civic organizations across the state to strengthen the recognition of the local titleholders’ presence in the community during philanthropic endeavors. Finally, I plan to take full advantage of every social media avenue to reach into and expand every network. These networks will help advance my personal platform, promote the sponsors, and spread the vision of Miss America. I will be able to use my title as a stepping stone into the lives of students at schools and members in the community. It is my goal to encourage students to give lifesaving blood donations by partnering with schools to educate, visiting local hospitals, connecting donors to recipients, and connecting with past donors.

Americans are dying when a cure is found in a simple blood donation, and this is not right. We need our citizens to give the gift of life. Through the Miss America Organization, I hope to become personally responsible for the increase of blood donors within the region, and therefore give life to our beautiful state.

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