Well wishers gathered at Blue Moon Cafe for a send off for Miss Kansas Amanda Sasek as she prepares for Miss America.

The morning after being crowned Miss Kansas in June, Amanda Sasek said she had given her all to fulfilling a long-held goal. She’s giving her all in pursuit of the next achievement — the Miss America crown.

She has been busy every day since June 7, meeting with Miss Kansas Organization sponsors, appearing in parades and traveling around the state as part of the job she’s taken on. In addition, she’s preparing for the Miss America competition next month in Atlantic City.

“I’m learning to get by on very little sleep and lots of coffee,” she quipped.

When she’s not making appearances, she’s working with a personal trainer on physical fitness, honing a new vocal selection for talent, preparing for interview and working with a life coach. And shopping for a pageant wardrobe, aided by two evening gown sponsors in Oklahoma City.

“I’m a different person (than she was in June) — a better person,” she believes.

The platform she promoted for the Miss Kansas Pageant — Survivors Overcoming Suicide — has expanded to empowering women to overcome obstacles to become leaders.

Suicide prevention has been a “huge part” of her story and her life, she said. After her father’s suicide, she lived with a single mother barely able to pay the bills, and also overcame an eating disorder.

“I came out better, because of so many female mentors,” Sasek said.

The “first and foremost” of the mentors was her mother, a “very tough lady” who taught her to never give up. Female professors in college guided her to opportunities and encouraged her.

“It changed my life,” she said, and she hopes to be a part of that life-changing experience for other women.

During the past month, she has been engaged in a “Women of Kansas” project, interviewing at least one woman every day, and posting their stories on her website, www.findyourstrength.web.com. There is a link at www.misskansas.org. Click “Meet Amanda” and scroll to the bottom of her resume.

A new vocal selection, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” fits in nicely. Sasek will sing the lines, “I crashed down and tumbled, but I didn’t crumble. I wasn’t built to break, I didn’t know my own strength” for herself and her mother and for every other woman who has faced obstacles in her life.

She departs Sept. 1 for Atlantic City to begin a round of public appearances in advance of the Miss America Pageant. Competition begins on Sept. 8, when she will have her interview with judges. Preliminary competitions will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of that week and the finals will be broadcast Sunday