In 2016, a program called “GEMS- Girls Empowered and Motivated to Serve” was born. I saw a need for positive female role models in our communities to influence, encourage, and inspire the youngest generation of leaders. As a contestant in the Miss America Organization, I aimed to create a community of strong, powerful girls who wish to make a difference. As I go on the road to host GEMS workshops and share a love for service with others, I decided to feature MORE amazing women who also dedicate their time and talents toward making their communities a better place.
To kick off this blog series, I am so excited to introduce Brittany Moncrief.
Brittany is a recent graduate of Winona State University with a degree in Special Education Developmental Disabilities and a minor in Dance. She recently accepted a position as a special education teacher at Winona Senior High School. From St. Paul, Minnesota, Brittany is also a dancer and power lifter, teaching fitness classes, dance classes, and choreography. Fun fact: She is also a former Miss Winona and competed at the Miss Minnesota Scholarship Pageant last year.
Brittany has also been involved with the American Cancer Society and Special Olympics for many years now. Here is her experience:
Brittany and the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating, preventing, and helping those battling cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. In fact, their motto is driven from the idea of having a world with more birthdays. She has held positions like Chair of Social Media, Team Captain, Committee Member, and participant with Relay for Life over the past 9 years.
“I got involved with the American Cancer Society, specifically their Relay for Life events, when I was in eighth grade. My sister was the captain of her Relay team and invited my mom and I to come to the event,” Brittany said. She and her mom have now attended over fifteen events in the state of Minnesota and have raised over $5,000 for the American Cancer Society. “We won’t stop Relaying until cancer stops first!”
Brittany chose to get started with the American Cancer Society as a way for she and her family to bond and fight cancer.
“We have family friends who have fought cancer. Some beat it and some did not. We now make it a tradition to attend at least one event a year and pay our honor and tributes to those who have had to hear the words, ‘you have cancer.'”
“I’ve learned that cancer puts up one heck of a fight. It’s the hardest battle to beat, but because of donors and research, there will be a cure one day,” Brittany said.
When she was Miss Winona, Brittany used to write a “Survivor of the Month” column to honor a special survivor. “There is nothing quite like a community that’s full of mutual hatred….a hatred for cancer!”
Brittany and Special Olympics
Special Olympics is centered around giving children and adults with different kinds of disabilities the opportunity to train and compete in various events. This allows them to have the chance to work on physical fitness, teamwork, courage, and experiencing an exciting event. Brittany has volunteered and helped her students at Special Olympics for the past two years.
She started volunteering with Special Olympics two years ago when she was in her field placement to become a Special Education teacher.
“My students were involved with the Olympics event that Winona hosts every year for surrounding communities. I am now a high school teacher and plan to bring my students to the event to participate every spring.”
Brittany chose to get involved in Special Olympics because she wanted to see her students participating in team and individual events.
“I wanted to be able to see their confidence grow throughout the years with me as their teacher.”
Through Special Olympics, Brittany learned that any single body is capable of anything.
“Just because my student is labeled with a disability doesn’t mean they can’t do something, it means they do things differently than most people,” Brittany said. “My students are successfully able to turn the word disability into DIS-ABILITY!”
Do you want to get involved with the American Cancer Society or Special Olympics like Brittany? Follow the links below!