It was so nice this morning waking up to Woody Woodburn’s kind column regarding the Sunny Girl site. I am so HAPPY to be featured in his weekly column and I truly appreciate him taking the time to write such a thoughtful piece. As a friend of Woody’s two kids, Dallas and Greg, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet Woody and have an interview with him. This is the product of our conversation and I hope you’ll enjoy his piece! To see the actual article, you can go to the Ventura County Star webpage: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/nov/04/woodburn-local-sunny-girl-truly-shines/ or you can look at the physical copy of the Star Newspaper! Here are Woody’s words:
If movie director Ron Howard were casting the role of a California beauty pageant winner, he would want a fresh-faced starlet with a toothpaste-ad smile and hair of sunshine who looks like she spends her weekends at the beach.
Or, he could simply say, “Get me someone who looks like Lauren Cook!”
Lauren not only looks the part of a beauty queen, she has played it in real life.
She won her first pageant at age 13 as Ventura County’s Outstanding Teen 2005; was named Miss Teen Ventura County the following year; and in 2007 earned the title of Miss Teen California International on her way to placing third runner-up in that year’s national pageant.
In the talent portion Lauren sang “I Have Confidence” from “The Sound of Music” and equally beautiful as her voice is her heart: She has performed well over 1,000 hours of community service and personally raised more than $30,000 for the American Cancer Society.
“I want to change the world and make it a happier place,” Lauren says. “Specifically, I want to address happiness for teens and young adults.”
To this end she started her own daily blog, “The Sunny Girl: The Brighter Side of Things” (http://www.TheSunnyGirl.com). Featuring personal thoughts, interviews, YouTube videos and more, after just 18 months it already gets more than 3,000 visitors each day.
“So often I hear young people wishing their time away,” Lauren shares. “They can’t wait for the coming weekend; they can’t wait for summer; they can’t wait until they are out of high school or until they are 21. I want them to realize that when you are older you will wish you were young. The Sunny Girl is all about being grateful for today and passing on that happiness to others.”
The Sunny Girl is a young woman wise beyond her 20 years.
To be sure, Lauren puts the cliché of pageant winners being all fluff and no substance into a paper shredder.
To give you an idea, the Ventura native boasts a 3.9 GPA as a UCLA junior majoring in psychology and communications.
“I Have Confidence” includes the lyrics: I’ve always longed for adventure/To do the things I’ve never dared. Taking these words to heart, Lauren created a bucket list she calls “The Sunny Set” on her website and encourages others to follow suit.
“My list is growing all the time,” she notes.
Indeed, at last count it numbered 282, ranging from silly (run in an undies run, go to the Hershey’s Chocolate factory and eat the whole chocolate bar) to serious (watch a Supreme Court session, watch a surgery performed); from romantic (get passionately kissed in New York Times Square on New Year’s; kiss on top of the Eiffel Tower) to humanitarian (feed the homeless on Thanksgiving, build a house for Habitat for Humanity).
She has already checked off numerous Sunny Set goals, including: plant, grow, and eat from her own garden; fly a kite on the beach; get a CPR license; grant a child’s wish (to have a dinosaur playground) with the Make-A-Wish Foundation; and get her fortune read.
“He told me he could sense how grateful I was,” Lauren retells. “He even said he saw a lot of ‘sunshine’ and envisioned me writing. I was amazed by how well he seemed to know me.”
Indeed, the crystal ball was in sharp focus. Lauren has just finished writing her first book — “The Sunny Girl’s Guide to Happiness” — and is looking for a literary agent. It features interviews and responses from more than 300 teens on 12 topics that affect young people, such as dating, friendships, academics and general happiness.
It is easy to assume Lauren’s sunny outlook comes easily, that her life has seen no thunderclouds. Not so. In addition to watching a number of family members courageously — and successfully — battle cancer, Lauren had her own heath battle growing up: serious scoliosis.
“Even today, my spine looks like an anaconda slithering through the rain forest,” she shares, smiling. “I would be three inches taller if my back were straight.”
Actually, cast as a young role model Lauren Cook couldn’t possibly stand any taller.
Woody Woodburn writes a weekly column for The Star. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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