Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Autozone Liberty Bowl Parade

World famous Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee was the setting for the 2010 Autozone Liberty Bowl Parade on December 30, 2010.  Tons of people lined the street, and the atmosphere was filled with fun and excitement.  Fans from Georgia and Central Florida were enjoying downtown Memphis and cheering for their teams.  I was honored to be included in the parade, and I had a wonderful time.  Everyone was kind, upbeat, and happy.  Hopefully Georgia will represent the SEC well today and go home with a win!
Me with Miss University of Central Florida before the parade in front of my beautiful parade car from Mercedes of Memphis.        

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa Came Early to Georgia Avenue Elementary!

Today was a simply wonderful day.  It was a day that not only made me smile; it renewed my hope and belief in the fact that there are wonderful people in the world who are willing to give of themselves to make a needy and at-risk child's dreams come true.

I have had a longstanding presence in Georgia Avenue Elementary School.  Georgia Avenue is located in the 38126 zip code in Memphis, and this area is not only the most impoverished area in Memphis, it is the third most impoverished zip code in the United States.  An overwhelming number of the households in this area are single family, and the children in these households are in need of some of the basic essentials many of us take for granted.  When asked what they would like Santa to bring them this Christmas, it is not unusual to hear, "a Christmas tree, clothes, or shoes."  These kids are not asking for bikes, gaming systems, and trampolines.  They are asking for things most children take for granted.

Two years ago, I approached a group of my most kind-hearted friends and asked them to join me in "adopting" a classroom at Georgia Avenue.  Six wonderful people joined my husband David and me, and we have thrown quarterly parties for our adopted class.  Today was our second annual holiday party, and we had an amazing time bringing holiday spirit to kids who may not have otherwise had a visit from Santa.  The excitement and appreciation these children exhibited today was heartwarming.  These children are beautiful and intelligent, and they deserve the opportunity to follow their dreams.  Please reach out to children in need.  I assure you that not only will you enrich the life of the child you assist, your own life will be enriched exponentially.

I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the following people who helped make this amazing day possible:  David Riley, Brandy Parrish-Wade, Melody Usdan, Tameka Perry, Keisha Richardson, LaQuange Watkins, Carly Knight, Richard Glassman, Sarah Coleman, and Edith Hurt.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Enjoy the photos from the party!

God Bless,
Mary-Marsha Riley
David and me with my sweet Devon.

The kids loved their toys from Santa!  Look at the girls cuddling their Baby Alive dolls.
Jamal, Devon, and Jaylin.  Devon loved his new New York Giants gear!
All the goodies ready to go before the party!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2010 Autozone Liberty Bowl Parade

I am super excited that I will be riding in the 2010 Autozone Liberty Bowl Parade on December 30!  I am a huge SEC football fan, so I am honored to be part of this SEC bowl event.  Although I am an Arkansas fan, I will be cheering for Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.  I am thrilled that Mercedes of Memphis has donated the use of a Mercedes convertible for the parade, so I will be riding in style.  Thank you Mercedes of Memphis!

And, I just want to say... Go Hogs!  Beat Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl!!  Woo Pig Sooie!

Mary-Marsha Riley
Mrs. Tennessee International 2011      

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Happenings

David and I kicked off the holiday season with a trip to the Memphis Zoo this week with our good friends Melody and Greg Usdan to attend the Chef's Dinner.  A trolley ride through the zoo's holiday light display was followed by a delicious dinner by Felicia Suzanne's in the new Teton Trek building.  The proceeds benefit the many wonderful programs of the zoo and of course the wonderful animals who call the zoo home.

I am currently busy planning the 2011 Holiday Party for the kids at Georgia Avenue Elementary which David and I will host on December 15.  Thanks to the generosity of several of our dear friends, each child will receive a gift they specifically requested on their "Wish Lists."  I can hardly wait to see their faces as they open the gifts!  Without the kindness of a few fine people, these children may not have had any holiday magic.  Thank you in advance to Brandy Parrish-Wade, Melody Usdan, Keisha Richardson, LaQuange Watkins, Carly Knight, Tameka Perry, and Sarah Coleman.  I can't wait until party time!     

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Memphis Princess and Shelby County's Outstanding Teen Pageants

What an honor it was today to judge 13 beautiful, talented, articulate, and poised young ladies as they vied for the titles of Miss Memphis Princess and Shelby County's Outstanding Teen.  The production was first class, and I was inspired by the hope for change and zest for life these contestants conveyed.  Congratulations to Jocelynn Jordan, 2011 Miss Memphis Princess, and Grace Burgess, 2011 Shelby County's Outstanding Teen.  You two are wonderful representatives of our city and county.  Also, congratulations to Ivy Depew, 2011 Miss Memphis, and Jill Brooks, 2011 Miss Shelby County.
Me after the pageant with the adorable Amber Reed, 2010 Miss Memphis Princess. 
Judges with the newly crowned Miss Memphis Princess and Miss Shelby County's Outstanding Teen 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Busy Weekend

My weekend kicked off on Thursday when my husband and I judged the Memphis City Schools Think Show! at Georgia Avenue Elementary School in downtown Memphis.  The talented kids treated us to a Blues Music Show, an Al Green performance, great artwork, and reports on famous Memphis natives Elvis Presley, Cybil Shepard, and Aretha Franklin.  We were joined at the school by fellow judge Brittany Fitzpatrick, Miss Tennessee International 2011 first runnerup.  The three of us had a wonderful time with the kids and were honored to be part of the event.
On Friday night, I joined several Miss Tennessee local titleholders at the "Tinsel and Tiaras" event at the Busy Womens' Expo at the Agri Center in Memphis.  As the women arrived, they were each welcomed and "crowned."  The event was a huge success.  What woman doesn't love to wear a crown once in a while?!  The proceeds from the event will benefit the National Kidney Fountation.
Saturday began with the Alzheimer's Memory Walk at Autozone Park in downtown Memphis with my husband David, Miss Tennessee International, Bobbie Marie Gregg, and Miss Teen Tennessee International, Randi Strong.  Although the rain refused to stay away, hundreds of people walked together in memory and in honor of those who suffer and have suffered from Alzheimer's Disease.  The Walk started off with a high energy dance warmup which the three of us enjoyed very much!  It was an honor to spend the day with Bobbie Marie and Randi who are both wonderful, genuine, kind young women.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Welcome November

November is already shaping up to be a busy month!  This Thursday, November 11, my husband David and I will be judging the Memphis City Schools Think Show! at Georgia Avenue Elementary.  The Think Show! is a creative competition being held in conjunction with President Obama's Graduation Initiative.  Memphis was one of four cities chosen to develop and implement a program designed to allow the children of our nation to showcase their creative talents.  I am honored to be part of this amazing opportunity for the children of Memphis, and I look forward to being treated to a day of musical, artistic, and scientific entertainment!  If you are interested in judging with David and me, e-mail me, and I will get you signed up!

On November 12, I will be a special guest at the "Tinsel and Tiaras" event at the Memphis Busy Womens' Expo.  Gather your girlfriends and come out to the Memphis Agri Center and treat yourself to a night of shopping and pampering.  On the morning of November 13, David and I will join Bobbie Marie Gregg, Miss Tennessee International, and Randi Strong, Miss Teen Tennessee International, at the Alzheimer's Memory Walk at Autozone Park in downtown Memphis.  My grandmother, Ruth Porter, was stricken with this disease, so I will be participating in her memory. 

God Bless,
Mary-Marsha Riley
Mrs. Tennessee International 2011

Thursday, October 28, 2010

STREETS Ministries Halloween Party

Today was a good day.  My husband David and I, along with a group of wonderful friends we recruited, hosted a Halloween party for Georgia Avenue Elementary third graders in downtown Memphis.  The cupcakes, popcorn balls, chips, Capri Suns, and candy were flowing!  We helped the kids decorate pumpkins to take home with them, and we all had an amazing time.  These children are inspiring, and spending time with them is always uplifting.

I have also had a wonderful first month of tutoring Devon and Jamal.  I have had the opportunity to spend 6 hours of one on one time with the boys this month, and their progress is impressive.  They both took part in the party today, and I look forward to seeing them again on Tuesday and embarking on our second month of tutoring.  I have no doubt that the remainder of our school year together will be amazing.  You can see Devon in the photo below in between me and my husband.  We both adore the little guy!    

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Memphis Child Advocacy Center's Chefs' Celebrity Gala

On October 21, 2010, I was honored to be a "celebrity server" at the Memphis Child Advocacy Center's annual Chefs' Celebrity Gala.  The lovely evening raised $263,000.00 for the CAC which provides the abused children of Memphis with treatment, comfort, and support.  I was honored to spend the evening with more than 600 kind hearted Memphians who share my passion to help abused and at risk children succeed in life and achieve their dreams.


In Memory of and with Everlasting Love for Jordan

After fourteen years, six months, and five days of unconditional love, companionship, support, and pure joy, my sweet baby dog Jordan lost his battle with cancer and peacefully returned to God in Heaven on October 20, 2010.  Jordan has been the most beautiful blessing of my life, and my love for him will endure forever.  I hereby dedicate my year as Mrs. Tennessee International to Jordan.  Thank you to everyone who loves him and me and for praying for us and sending me such kind words of support of encouragement.  I am so lucky to have so many compassionate and caring people in my life.  God Bless and take care of Jordan Porter Riley until I see him again.   

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Titleholder Photo Shoot

I had quite the day of pampering today at the official Tennessee International Pageant photo shoot in Nashville.  Kristy Belcher, for anyone who does not already know, is an amazingly talented photographer, and she is absolutely beautiful on the inside and out!  The precious Bryan Wood was there to beautify our hair, and the classy Lisa Proctor worked her magic on our faces.  I can hardly wait to see the photos, and I am SO thankful and blessed to share this year with Phil, Bobbie Marie, and Randi who are all simply wonderful.  Thank you to everyone involved for such a special day.

God Bless!
Mary-Marsha Riley

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ladies Leadership Luncheon

Thank you to Tracy Hendry for hosting a wonderful luncheon today.  It is always such a honor to be in the presence of women who are agents of positive change in our city and state.  And, it is a pleasure to be able to share my mission of providing all children with quality education and the opportunity to reach their potential.  Thank you Tracy!     

Sunday, September 26, 2010

October 2010 Appearances and Activities

It has only been one week since I became Mrs. Tennessee International, but October is already shaping up to be a busy month!  I will be addressing an impressive group of women at the Memphis Beach Body Ladies Leadership Luncheon on October 2, and I will be a "celebrity server" at the Memphis Child Advocacy Center's Chefs Celebrity Gala on October 21. 

I am also extremely excited because Devon, my favorite third grader in the world, and I kick off our third year of tutoring together through STREETS Ministries this Tuesday, September 28, at Georgia Avenue Elementary in downtown Memphis.  I will also be tutoring Jamal, a classmate of Devon's in Mrs. Hurt's third grade class at Georgia Ave. this year, and I cannot wait to meet him Tuesday as well.  My team will also be hosting a Halloween party for Mrs. Hurt's class in late October.  I want to encourage anyone who wants to make a lasting impression on the life of a child to become involved in one of the many amazing volunteer programs at STREETS Ministries in Memphis, the Memphis Child Advocacy Center, or with an organization in your area that works to improve the lives of children.  Every child deserves the opportunity to reach his or her potential.  Will you do your part to help?

Every Monday night through December, you can find me sweating, or causing others to sweat, in the basement at the Memphis Child Advocacy Center as I lead the CAC Monday Night Charity Fit Club.  My fit clubbers are getting fit while raising money for the Memphis Child Advocacy Center.  If you would like to join us, please e-mail me at for more information.

Finally, I am looking forward to taking a day trip to Nashville on October 9 to meet my sister queens, Bobbie Marie Gregg, Miss Tennessee International, and Randi Strong, Miss Teen Tennessee International, for our official titleholder photo shoot with the talented Kristy Belcher.  Lisa Proctor and Bryan Wood will be on hand for our makeup and hair, and I could not be happier as Lisa and Bryan are two of the most geniunely kind people I have ever met.

I am quite excited to start my first full month as Mrs. Tennessee International!  Thank you to everyone for your sweet words of support and encouragement you have given me throughout this past week.  I appreciate each of you very much.

If you or your organization would like to request an appearance, please contact me at

Mary-Marsha Riley
Mrs. Tennessee International 2011                       

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I am Mrs. Tennessee International!

Oh my goodness!  On Sunday, September 19, 2010, the enchanting voice of Marcellus Shepard announced my name as the new Mrs. Tennessee International on the stage of the amazing Cookeville Performing Arts Center.  After hugging my handsome and supportive husband and experiencing the excitement of him placing the beautiful crown on my head, I have jumped head first into my year as a titleholder.  I am truly excited and honored to embark on this adventure, and I hope you enjoy accompanying me on my journey this year!