SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 5 Mrs. California, TiffanyEllison of Folsom, believes dreams do come true. As she heads to theMrs. America* competition in Tucson, Arizona on September 2, she holds fast toher belief that she will be crowned and her 10-year-old son, Connor will behealthy again. Connor was born with a deadly liver disease -- congenitalhepatic fibrosis -- and may need a liver transplant.
Tiffany is doing all in her power to make one dream fuel the other.
Her motivation for winning Mrs. America is to use the national stage, muchthe same as she has her state platform, to encourage all Americans to sign upto give life to the nearly 100,000 people -- like her son, waiting for alife-saving organ transplant.
"If Connor someday needs an organ donation, I'm not just going to sit backfeeling sorry, I'm doing something," says Tiffany. "I will do everything Ican to bring the topic up as much as possible, to encourage everyone to takejust one minute -- one minute, that could mean years of life for others -- andsign up on their state's registry. In our state, it's the Donate LifeCalifornia** registry, and people can sign up either through the DMV when theyget their driver's license or online at: http://www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org."
Both Connor and Tiffany know the power of believing you can bring aboutpositive change, simply by envisioning your goals.
For Connor, that goal has always been to play football.
"His whole life he's dreamed of playing football," says Tiffany. "We livein a big football town, everywhere you turn, there's football. EveryHalloween Connor is the same thing -- a football player."
Tiffany feared Connor would never be able to be able to play. But,Connor, trained by his mother, believed otherwise.
Connor and his three siblings (aged 4, 12 and 16) all have a "vision"board in their respective rooms -- a cork board where they put up picturesrepresenting the hopes and aspirations they focus on for the future. Connorfilled his board with football images -- he even glued his face onto a player.
His mother couldn't bear to tell him that the dream could never come true.Now, she's glad she didn't.
That's because when the local newspaper picked up the story of Connor'spossible need for a liver transplant and his dashed dream of ever playingfootball -- the folks on Folsom's Youth Football League took notice.
"Someone from the football league called and said 'Connor is what aBulldog is -- someone who has team spirit and heart. We want him to be anhonorary team member -- where he will practice, be in the team picture, have ajersey with his name on the back. And while he can't play in the games, he'llbe there, in uniform -- a Bulldog.' I'm so glad I didn't stop him fromputting his dream on his board and believing in it."
And now Tiffany has on her vision board -- a picture of her with a "Mrs.America" sash glued on it -- and right above that, a Donate Life logo.
She hopes her vision of a healthy son will become America's vision whenshe competes for Mrs. America.
"I can't imagine if you put a face to the cause, how you could not want tohelp. It's the right thing to do, it's so easy, it's so simple. It's aboutgiving life -- to dreams."
* The person who wins Mrs. America will spend a year traveling across theUS and abroad -- including a trip to the Mrs. World competition. She willalso promote sponsors and participate in a variety of service projects.
** Donate Life California is a nonprofit, state-authorized organ andtissue donor registry, administered by California's four nonprofit, federallydesignated organ procurement organizations, each responsible for facilitatingthe donation process in the state: California Transplant Donor Network, GoldenState Donor Services, Lifesharing and OneLegacy. As a state-authorized publics