Vertical Fitness Changed My Life- Miss Sacramento County

Alora Martin Miss Sacramento CountyIn June of 2016 I was trudging through life day by day. I worked 12 hour days managing a bakery and rarely had energy to do anything outside of work. I had gained weight and was overall unhappy with myself. I tried going to the gym, but after working from 4:30 am to 4:30 pm and fighting through traffic for over an hour to get home, I could rarely muster the will power. When I could barely shimmy my favorite loose-fitting jeans over my hips I realized it was time to do something.

Alora Martin Miss Sacramento CountyA friend told me about Vertical Fitness Studio which offers classes in pole, aerial silks, and lyra (aerial hoop) and said it’s a great workout that is also incredibly fun. In my mind, it was impossible for working out to be fun, but I decided to give it a go nevertheless.

I’ll never forget my first class; it was an introduction to pole class and everyone in the studio immediately felt like family. There were women who had been clients for years and welcomed me with the same warmth as they did their fellow veterans. I had an amazing experience and surprised myself with my own strength. I decided to come back the next day and the next and soon it became a part of my regular routine. After 30 days of classes I felt better than I ever had, had muscle definition in places it had never been, and had a whole new group of friends who encouraged me every step of the way.

Alora Martin Miss Sacramento CountyWhen I decided to compete in the Miss Sacramento County program it felt like the obvious choice for my talent. As you can imagine, when I brought up this idea there were many people who felt that it was not in my best interest due to the stigma of pole performers, but this is what fueled me even further to go for it. What most people don’t know is that in 2017 the Global Association of International Sports Federation granted pole sports “observer” status. This is the first step to becoming an Olympic sport. My goal is to continue to reduce the stigma against performers like myself and open peoples minds and hearts to realize that our passion and our art may look different than others, but it is just as powerful and incredible as any other.

My two year anniversary at Vertical Fitness Studio is quickly approaching and I continue to surprise myself with the things I have been able to accomplish. I am stronger than ever mentally, emotionally and physically. I will forever be grateful for having the courage to walk into the studio that first day, not knowing how much it would positively impact my life. I can’t wait to share my passion for my sport with all of you in June at the Miss California program.

Seeing Through Other’s Eyes

A fellow classmate was describing to me his life back at home in a small village on the island of Tonga. He described his village as a place where, “everyone knows everybody.” This tight knit community has no neighbors; everyone is considered family. Everyday, they go out to catch fresh fish to eat for their next meal. Family gatherings are a staple in his community and a celebration is not complete without cultural dances, music, lots of food and of course, lots of fish.

image1 (1)These are the types of stories I get to hear everyday as a student at BYU-Hawaii, majoring in Business Management, emphasizing in Hospitality and Tourism. I chose this university in the middle of the Pacific Ocean because of their unique Hospitality and Tourism program, which offers great first-hand experience in a place that relies heavily on the industry.

Coming here, I knew that the campus had a diverse pool of students because of its Pacific centered location. However, I did not realize that BYU-Hawaii is one of the most diverse college campuses in the nation, with over 70 countries represented.  I’ve met and made friends with people like Kiwi and Toshi from Japan, Lu from Fiji, Kaylee from Utah, Lima from Samoa, Liv from Washington, Roche from Qatar, and many more. Each day I’m privileged to interact with people from many different cultures.  

No matter how different we may be, we can always find something in common that we share, or learn something new about each other. Through my experiences, I have gained an even greater sense of gratitude and pride in my home state of California. 

image2As individuals share their stories with me, I also share my own. “My name is Nikki Holbrook. I am from Sacramento, California. I have lived there my whole life.” It’s always entertaining to see people’s reactions when I tell them about California. The looks of awe I receive when I explain the cultural and geographical diversity of our state. Explaining how, yes, we do have beaches, but we also have beautiful snow-capped mountain ranges, deserts, world-renowned architecture, and everything else that we may grow!  (#WeGrowBeauty)

I so thankful to be a part of the Miss California Organization and to possibly have the opportunity to represent one of the most diverse states in the nation. Growing up in California, and having these experiences at BYU-Hawaii, have expanded my appreciation for all people and makes me proud to call California home.


                  Thank you for letting me share,

                               Nikki Holbrook

                       Miss Barbary Coast 2018



**Keep up with my year on my various social media accounts!**

Facebook/Youtube: Miss Barbary Coast, Instagram: @missbarbarycoast, and Twitter: @missbarbarycst

Miss Sacramento County: Alzheimer’s Awareness

Hello everyone! My name is Kelsey Cardamone and I am proud to represent the County of Sacramento as Miss Sacramento County 2015. I currently attend Sacramento State and I am Majoring in Child Development. Since my crowning back in January life has been exciting and busy but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Today I would like to shine the light on my platform, Alzheimer’s Awareness. In the time that it takes me to write this blog post about 80 brains will develop Alzheimer’s. Did you know that every 67 seconds someone in the United Sates develops Alzheimer’s? Well, 14 years ago that statistic became a reality for my family. Back in 2001 my family received the news that my granddad had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Receiving the news that my granddad had an illness that had no cure was terrifying.

FullSizeRender(1)I knew that there wasn’t a way to cure what was happening to my granddad, but I knew that there was some way that I could make a difference. Over time what I’ve come to realize is that dwelling on the past doesn’t change the future. It doesn’t change that fact that more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. But what can change the future is getting out and doing something about it.

In my opinion the service point of the Miss America crown is powerful and influential. It encourages us to get out and take action about something we are passionate about. I have now been involved with the Alzheimer’s association for 4 years and every year we hold an annual Alzheimer’s awareness walk at the California State Capital here in Sacramento. During this event hundreds of people who are passionate about funding research for a cure to end Alzheimer’s flood the state capitol. I am so grateful for the people I have met over the past four years attending and volunteering at this wonderful event.

FullSizeRender(2)Some of those wonderful people that I get to volunteer with happen to be my sorority sisters. The main reason I joined my sorority was so that I had a group of friends who wanted to support Alzheimer’s and bring awareness to the disease. I think that Mark Twain said it the best when he said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you to, can become great. When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition, it is important with whom you regularly associate. Hang out with friends who are like-minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives. Similarly be that kind of friend for your friends” – Mark Twain

Love Always,

Kelsey Cardamone

Miss Sacramento County 2015

Keep up with my journey on Facebook, Instagram and twitter @misssaccounty



The Mentors that Shape Our Lives


April (Drum) Smith, Miss Mendocino County 1993 with Priscilla Ryan (left) and Gwen Adkins (right)

I went to watch a friend participate in the Miss Mendocino County Program and I said to myself, “I can sing, I can do that.”  Little did I know that watching that program would change the course of my life and bring in a mentor who shaped the foundation of my life. Priscilla Ryan was larger than life to a young woman who rode motorcycles, horses and who got the majority of her school clothes from a thrift store. She would walk into a room dressed in a white and gold St. John knit with her red hair and beautiful smile and you were mesmerized. Over the course of three years, I participated in the Miss Mendocino County Program and I learned more by not winning than by winning the title my first year. I was lucky enough to have Priscilla be my friend and director for two years before I won the title. After I won the title of Miss Mendocino County in 1993, Priscilla made me feel like a princess! My mother always says that she gave me the tools to succeed in life, but that Priscilla gave me the heels to run in. Priscilla took a girl from the woods and taught me what it was like to really, truly be confident about myself. It was more than just the shopping and going to appearances. Priscilla and her family made me feel like I was their daughter and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

There are a variety of reasons as to why someone chooses to become a local director for the Miss America Program, but I wanted to give you my perspective on why I have been volunteering for The Miss America Organization for over 15 years. When I first became a director, I was a 29 year old woman who was basically told “I had to be the director of the Miss Sacramento County Program.” I had a good job but very little resources so it was a huge task. I had to start from the bottom and work my way up in forming a program that had a variety of directors for a few years before I took over the program. It was frustrating because I wanted to be like Priscilla right from the beginning. Luckily, I had titleholders that where amazing and so appreciative of anything that I could do for them. For many years, we worked with what we called “a skeleton crew” and it was tough, but we had a really good time and the titleholders felt special even though we worked with a shoestring budget, mostly coming from my own pocket. The funny thing is that I had to retire in order to really develop my program. I have two small children and I couldn’t do it anymore. There was just too much work for a few people, but after I retired, new and existing committee members came out of the woodwork in support of the program and really starting taking on active roles as a committee and I knew then that I couldn’t leave the program.

April (Drum) Smith, Miss Mendocino County 1993 with her Director, Priscilla Ryan

April (Drum) Smith, Miss Mendocino County 1993 with her Director, Priscilla Ryan

When a young woman decides to compete in my program, the fun begins. I always feel like Priscilla when we start discussing wardrobe and planning on what areas the contestants is strongest at for talent. Over the years, I have literally watched young women transform from a girl to a young woman in a very short period of time. It is an amazing process to see a sometimes awkward, but brilliant young women come into her own. I think of Priscilla often and even though she is no longer with us, I always feel her smiling down on me as I help the contestants, whether they win the crown or not. It is not always about just working with the titleholder, but helping to prepare ALL the contestants. Sometimes the girls who don’t win the title learn more than the one who gets to wear the crown. Those are the contestants who come back and win the next year.

The reason I volunteer my time for the Miss America and Miss California Programs is because of the sense of family. As a network of volunteers, we get to celebrate everyone’s successes. Believe me, there are some family squabbles, but overall, you cannot replace the feeling of watching these young women succeed and knowing that you may have had a very small part in helping them along the way. Priscilla changed my life! She not only gave me scholarship money (that paid a large portion of my schooling), but she taught me that I can accomplish anything that I set my mind to.

April Smith
Miss Mendocino County 1993
Director, Miss Sacramento County/Miss City of Sacramento