What was the greatest challenge you had to overcome in pageants?
The greatest challenge I have had to overcome in pageants would be the fear of walking on stage and public speaking in front of people. Before I started participating in pageants, I was a shy person. My self-confidence was also extremely low, and I did not believe in myself or that I could do anything right. Starting life as a foster child does cause a lot of trauma and being called dumb and stupid often does not help. I was 15 years old when I did my first pageant, and it was a new journey for me which I never thought I would fall in love with. Here I am competing for the 3rd time in the Miss Teenage Canada pageant because it has been a positive experience, with a great organization headed by a great director, Michelle Weswaldi. Once I saw that I kept improving and becoming more confident, I knew I could not give up the dream of maybe, one day, winning the title of Miss Teenage Canada. As Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2018/2019 and Miss Southern Ontario 2020, I have had opportunities to be the Master of Ceremonies for the 1918 Rotary Club of Windsor Children Festival, as well as being a guest speaker at fundraisers for the Children’s Aid Society of Windsor-Essex County as well as the Sunparlour Pregnancy Center of Windsor. These opportunities have helped me to become a stronger and more confident young woman and incredibly increased my confidence speaking in front of a room full of strangers.

Who is your role model?
My role model is Bethany Hamilton. The reason why she is my role model is that, at the age of 13, she lost her arm in a shark attack. Even though she suffered a traumatic event, she did not let that stop her from going after what she loved, which was surfing. She woke up every day, trained, and worked out to get the strength of two arms in one. A mere 26 days later after her surgery, she got back in the water learning how to surf with one arm. She later entered surfing competitions like the NSSA National Championship and won the Explorer Women’s Division, she also came in 13th place in the US Open of surfing held in California and 13th at the Reed Hawaiian Pro in Oahu island, and many more. Today she is married and has two children. She is living life to the fullest. One of her most famous quotes is: “if I don’t get back on that board, I won’t be happy.” She has not only influenced me, but she has influenced people all over the world and proven that no matter what life throws your way, just keep paddling. She has also taught me that if you truly want and love something, you will do whatever it takes to get to the goal and never give up, even when life gets rough.

 

 

Ist pageant I entered in June 2018

What made you want to participate in pageants?
The reason I first decided to participate in pageants is that I was going through a rough and painful patch in my life and needed a distraction. As I started preparing for the pageant and working on the many tasks that you are required to do, I found myself becoming happier and enjoying the various activities.

 

 

 

 

Miss Teenage Canada national pageant in August 2019

Doing pageants not only kept me distracted, but it has also helped me to gain the self-confidence to be able to be who I am today. It is all because I believe I could, so I did. It is important to always be growing and striving to be a better person every day and pageants help me to keep stretching beyond my comfort zone.

 

 

 

 

Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society Executive Director, Derrick Drouillard

What is one of your biggest regrets?
One of my biggest regrets is to have been a follower and being afraid to talk as I was scared to say something dumb as I had been called stupid too many times. I used to follow what everyone else did because I was scared that if I showed my true self, I would be judged, and no one would like me for who I was. Once I realized I needed to be my own self and step out of my comfort zone, I was able to be more confident and happier in all that I did and do today. If I did not take that one step out of my comfort zone, I would not be where I am today, and I would not be a happy person. The way I stepped out was by doing pageants and by volunteering with the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society as well as other local organizations.At first, I kept pageants a secret from many people as I did not want to be judged and made fun of for finding something, I became passionate about.

Volunteering at the opening of the movie Instant Family by passing out information to the public on fostering and adopting.

As I started to tell more people about what I was doing, they became incredibly supportive and I was grateful for being surrounded by individuals who were wanting to be my side through the journey I was taking. I went from a follower to a leader. I am my bubbly, and happy self all the time because I have realized that when we are our genuine self all the time, we are happier, and it is easier to live life. The people who like us for who we are, will be our sincere friends. I used to think that the more friends I had the better, but the truth is that I only need a couple of sincere people in my life to celebrate my successes with, to pick me up when I fall down and to love me for who I am.

Mayor of Tecumseh Gary McNamara

Which event that you participated in, was your favourite and why?

My favorite event was helping with the Cops Care for Kids Fashion Show in November 2018. This event is a partnership between city, county, and provincial police services, the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society, and local sponsors to raise money for various programs that WECAS provides such as mentoring, tutoring, Christmas program and many other programs that benefit children in foster care. At the event, I had the honor of walking the runway with the mayor of Tecumseh, Gary McNamara and I was a guest speaker for the event sharing my story of adoption, updating the community on the current fostering situation in our area and how individuals can help give a child a second chance at a better life.

 

Written by: Tia-Lynne