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Most moms are satisfied knowing that the love of their children is reward enough for doing a job well done as a parent. One lucky mother got an added bonus this year.
Soccer practice, PTA meetings, working as an assistant lobbyist with the Stewart Agency in Trenton, and family dinners are all in a days work for Cream Ridge resident, Susan A. Fanning. She has been involved in local soccer, basketball, wrestling, cheerleading, gymnastics, track and field and the 4-H club since her four children were in elementary school, in addition to being married for 27 years.
Now that recently married Alison, 26; and sons, Frank, 25; Michael, 23; and Scott, 19; are all grown up, they were able to join their father in thanking their mother in a most special way. A way that most mothers can only dream of. Susan's children and husband were in the audience, along with new son-in-law Timothy Schlosser, to cheer her on as she competed in a beauty pagent for the title of Mrs. New Jersey recently.
On Sunday, June 6th, 13 married women from throughout the state of New Jersey converged upon the Doubletree Hotel in Somerset to compete not only for the title of Mrs. New Jersey, but for the chance to go on and compete against 49 other married women across the country for the opportunity to be Mrs. America.
"I was honored to be in the presence of those beautiful, intelligent, well-spoken women who have all made wonderful contributions to their communities. The camaraderie as excellent," said Fanning in a recent interview at her home in Cream Ridge. "The competition was tough but I gave it my best shot."
Although Fanning didn't win, she feels that she came away from the experience more well rounded and better for it. "It was a wonderful experience and I feel that I have gained so much from doing it." Mrs. Fanning was nominated by a friend of hers from her years as a student at the Barbazon Academy in New York City. From there, Susan had to get sponsors and list the many different community service organizations that she was involved with before she was allowed to carry the honor of representing her hometown as "Mrs. Cream Ridge."
The pageant itself donates yearly to the American Cancer Society. "One of the contestants was wearing a wig, due to the fact that she was currently going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, Another contestant works in the field of making hairpieces for cancer vicitms and was also a victim of cervical cancer." She added, "Just learning about these other women's personal challenges was just an experience in itself."
The contestants had a full four day schedule, which included an orientation on Thursday, being pre-interviewed by the judges (which counted for 50% of their score), practicing and learning dance routines and speeches, dinner with the other contestants and directors and building the platform for which they would stand if they were bestowed with the honor of being Mrs. New Jersey. In light of recent tragedies such as the Columbine, Colorado school shooting and other unforunate copycat incidents, the platform that Susan prepared was "Family Unity."
She believes that "if parents were a little more attentive and spent just ten minutes a day, after work, talking with their children," that the world would be a much better place. "I think that it's great that kids are involved in sports and activities, because it keeps them out of trouble. However, you need to have that one on one time with your children as well."
Susan married her high school sweetheart, Frank, a Trenton firefighter, who together built by hand, the house in which they have now lived for 20 years. She has always taken classes of some kind to better herself. She worked as a housecleaner for twenty years, before working as a interior decorator in New York City and working more recently for the Stuart Agency located across from the State House in Trenton.
Although she didn't win the title of Mrs. New Jersey, she would do it all over again. After the pageant, her son Frank looked at his mother and shook his head. When she asked him what was wrong, he replied, "I just can't tell you how proud I am of you. I could never have done what you did." Mrs. Fanning added, "Now what (Frank) said was worth the whole experience."
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