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A Platform is A Road to Dreams

Platforms.  This may not be the first word that comes to one’s mind, when they think of pageantry, but it is what began my journey.  We needed a platform to help those battling Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and to warn as many people as we could, to prevent more cases.  Keyword is “WE,” not just myself.

A platform is the opportunity to voice your views and to initiate actions.  Though having a platform seems to be visually represented by us wearing a crown and a sash attracting attention, to be fully effective, you must get physical.  You learn that by combining drive, passion, and really being involved, you become an unstoppable juggernaut, with the right team.  The right team will come with you, because you are helping them!  Be it through fundraising, volunteering, or even pushing legislation, you are needed, respected, and appreciated.

The crown is meaningless, without the work behind it, or in front of it.  It is a trophy, and an accomplishment.  What lives on, is your legacy, and how you touched lives.  My community has several issues, where we need funding and support, to make things better.  Homelessness and the addition crisis (opiates), has created several sub-categories, which intertwine. I started with the smaller things, I knew I could control, by raising funding, and collecting items for mothers fighting addiction.  I threw mass baby showers, gave make-overs, fed many, clothed many, all through reaching out to others via social media.  I quickly realized that this worked, because of me holding a title to my name.  People were listening and paying attention.  Soon, you realize, what you are doing isn’t enough so you keep searching for other ways to help. So how do you turn an established platform into something that lives on to help for the continuum?

My biggest way of helping, was my invention, “The NICU Kuddler.”  This is the first medical wrap, designed for babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.  While volunteering, I came up with an idea, to help comfort so many babies, and their families.  I would be able to employ many mothers; former addicts who can’t find a job or get hired because of their criminal background.  Through this, I will also be able to help purchase residential facilities for them to live in at “Susannah’s House,” where I am a board member.  Though this dream seems so far-fetched, it has become very real thanks to having a platform!  My platform directly connected me to my business investor, who gave me the funding I needed to obtain my utility patent and start my plan.  He literally saw me on one of my FB live Vlogs, speaking about my volunteer work, and it connected to his heart.  This stranger, donated a wheelchair to the hospital I volunteer for.  We later became friends, and I shared my idea with him, which has changed my life, and will change many more soon!

Shonjrell Ladner with her invention, “The NICU Kuddler.”

Our voices are the catalyst to movements, our actions is what makes things happen!  Being a volunteer with many organizations now, was so unforeseen for myself in the beginning.  I’m so proud and humbled to stand among others, who have worked many years in their cause. I know it is a privilege to be asked to represent them.  I wanted to be in an organization that focuses on not making the reign about ourselves, but about our causes and the people.  I know, I have found it, after many attempts!   Our role is to share this spotlight, sometimes, even step out of it, to put others needing it to survive in it! That is how you really make an impact and create a legacy! The International Pageants are the epitome of this description.

We all get caught up in the fun, glitz, glam, and competition of pageantry.  I’ve said many times, so do I; for me, it is the most stressful part of it all!  The pageant itself, is around two days of you being in the spotlight for you.  You have the opportunity to be in the spotlight months before by being active, and for the longevity afterwards, win or lose, depending on what you make of it.  When the curtain closes, and I shed tears, I have always had people to go back to, who need me, like family.  I know I have a purpose, beyond any crown. I want others to feel what I feel right now, because it took me a couple of years to understand, and have this joy!  Go find your former crowns, and sashes.  Where are they?  Are they on a shelf, collecting dust?  Are they in a case for display? My point being is that they are not doing anything.  The story behind the crown, is you, and your team who helped you earn it, and how you used it.  We don’t just need to be seen or heard, we need to be effective! The platform is the road to dreams! What people think about our gowns, our bodies, our hair, and how we walk, is an opinion. Remember your purpose.  I almost let the opinion of those who met and spoke with me for minutes, keep me from earning a biggest platform of my life, those I love need and my purpose.

At my previous pageant competition, I didn’t place in, just weeks before winning Mrs. Tennessee International 2018

Mrs. Tennessee International 2018

Shonjrell Ladner

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