Hello Everyone, my name is Jennifer Schluga and I am proud to be named Mrs. Wisconsin America 2008. I run an animal rescue called Wisconsin Critter Rescue. We deal mainly with exotics, but do take in the occasional dog & cat as well. We have helped rehabilitate and re-home close to 160 furry friends since we opened.
I have been married to my husband Robb for over 15 years. He married into five, yes I said FIVE, daughters, Sammy, Jade, Cassy, Madison, Sydney. What a great guy, but I'm not sure he knew what he was in for. Regardless, he has taken to parenting quite well. They are the joy of my life. Robb and I are hoping to have one more...whew!
I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (a type of blood cancer) when I was 22 years old. I was pregnant with Cassy at the time and opted to hold off on treatment until she was delivered. The doctors gave me 12 months to live without treatment, but making sure my daughter was safe in the womb was my top priority. I started treatment December 21, 1994 at 3:30 p.m., just five hours after the birth of what was supposed to be the last child I was to ever give life to. After months of treatment, blood tests, and exams they told me I no longer had to come back for my weekly trips. There were exactly 37 different ways to get to the hospital from my house in under 20 minutes and I was overjoyed that I did not have to make the trip as frequently anymore (even though most of the time I did not remember the ride home). I have now been in "remission" and I am grateful and thankful that I am still here.
The first pageant I entered was in 1996. I entered it just to celebrate life. I had lost all of my hair going through the toughest battle of my life, but did not let it phase me too much. Most people thought I did it to copy Sinead O'Connor because I "didn't look sick". I tried the wigs and nothing felt right, so I competed with no hair. Needless to say they were not looking for a bald Ms. Wisconsin at that time. From that moment on I was bound and determined to win a title. To prove it was the inner YOU that mattered and not just the hair and glamour.
I do not believe that Mrs. Wisconsin should only have one platform, and she should want to help many different charities and organizations, but the Leukemia Society and Cancer Awareness are on the top of my list for obvious reasons. I already volunteer with a few organizations and plan to bring much more recognition to what we (as my entire family volunteers) already do. We volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, we are active with the Elmbrook Humane Society and WI Dog Rescue, and the kids and I also volunteer with the Children's Miracle Network & Children's Hospital Cancer Center.
Fishing has to be of the best things I have learned from my husband. The first gift I received from him (at least the first one I liked, ha ha) was a fishing pole. It is so peaceful and relaxing when you are fishing. No phones, no cars, no distractions. Granted, the first few times I did not particularly relish taking the fish off the hook or baiting my hook for that matter. I also have started archery. My husband does not trust me enough yet to shoot an apple off of his head, but we will get there. I can do anything once I put my mind into it. I love to try new things and meet new people. I can not say that I am even an ounce shy, which sometimes can get me in trouble, but I'm working on it. I think one of the best parts of pageantry is the amount of learning you do about yourself and your beliefs. We are never too old to learn!
I am happy to see more married women getting involved in pageants. We are wives, mothers, daughters, teachers, employers, and role models. We all have our own stories to share. We are ALL WINNERS already, if you ask me!