Well…. this is a tough one to put into words.

Let me begin with the most sincere “thank you” I have ever given. Every thought, prayer, or message I have received this week has been a bold reminder of what really matters: the ability to touch lives and be touched in return. Before I continue, I want to assure my friends, family and supporters that you are all so appreciated.

If you have not yet seen the press release, I am saddened to say there was an error in tabulation and I am officially not Miss Florida. The Miss Florida/Miss America Organization made the fair choice to contact the rightful winner and she has chosen to take on the responsibilities of Miss Florida 2014. Though I am devastated to relinquish the job, I am a firm believer that God has a plan and a purpose. Victoria Cowen will be a great titleholder and I hope you will all show her the recognition she deserves.

There is one big idea that I would like to emphasize: I was Miss Florida for a glimpse, but more importantly, I have been Elizabeth Fechtel since day one. A title does not define me. It opens doors, but it does not dictate who I am and where I am going. I would like to think of opportunities like this as stepping stones to my future. I cannot deny that this was one of the biggest “steps” I have come across, and I had become very comfortable and excited about the growth it would bring. The reality is that the Lord works in unforeseen ways. My path was squared and lined up 24 hours ago. Now there is a gap, but that gap is behind me. I already feel strengthened by this experience. One of my favorite quotes is, “Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.” My goals have not changed. Now that I have recovered from the initial shock, I feel surprisingly empowered. I recognize that the mistake in the balloting is less important than my choice on how to handle the recovery process. My choice is to charge forward and make a lasting impact on my community and country, as Elizabeth Fechtel.

This blog has been purposefully created to be an open form of communication to all of you. I will continue to create posts and updates, not as Miss Florida, but as a student at the University of Florida. This situation has only reminded me to live with a purpose and embrace the little things along my path. I cannot wait to share the new, fresh experiences. I am sure there are still many questions, perhaps even rumors, left unanswered – let time do the talking.

“…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hardpressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Cor. 4:7-10

To the media and general public: I have avoided interviews in order to first respect my family and friends. With descretion, I will now be acknowledging requests.  Please respect my privacy and contact me at elizabeth.d.fechtel@gmail.com.  I will not take phone calls or house visits without prior contact. Thank you for your understanding!