I wanted to take this Blog post to give you some insight into how I started on this amazing journey to the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant and introduce you to my sponsoring pageant; The Teen Ontario East Pageant.
A year ago I would have never pictured myself to be where I am today. In April of 2015, I entered as a delegate in the Miss Teen Ontario East Pageant and my life took on a whole new focus.
Going into pageant weekend 2015, my only expectation is that I was going to have a fun weekend making new friends, trying new things and meeting some incredible childhood cancer champions. I expected to return to school Monday morning and continue on with life as usual. Little did I know that pageant weekend was going to be the beginning of a whole new experience and a whole new me!
The Miss Teen Ontario East Pageant is a charity-based, not-for-profit organization and is a proud official fund raising and Awareness event for Childhood Cancer and many of the charities that assist kids with cancer and their families. One such charity is the Candlelighters, a not-for-profit charity organization that provides comfort and resources to young cancer patients being treated through the Oncology team at CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario). Candlelighters has always been an extremely important organization to me and my family. In 2009, at the age of 11, my sister Jill was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Candlelighters provided my sister and our whole family with the support and the resources we needed to get through that devastating cancer diagnosis. This is how we initially got involved with the pageant. Jill is one of the childhood cancer survivors that goes on stage to lend support to the pageant and the special Childhood Cancer Awareness number and then when Jill participated in the pageant as a delegate, was crowned 1st Runner Up to Miss Teen Ontario East 2014, Theresa Paplinskie. The pageant has always showcased these heroes in such an inspirational and moving way! The very first time I watched the pageant I loved it.
Pageant weekend was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Throughout the weekend I was encouraged to try many new things, I made a lot of new friends and shared some great memories and laughs with the other delegates and the M.T.O.E. committee. All of the girls were so kind and caring. We stayed up late at night chatting and getting to know each other and my roommate and I became fast friends and shared lots of dreams and ambitions until the sun came up. By the end of the weekend we all felt like sisters. The pageant made me step outside of my comfort zone and I really did become more confident in myself. I think many of my fellow delegates felt the same way.
Being crowned Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 was one of the most exciting moments of my life. All of the emotions and thoughts that blew through my mind when my name was called completely overwhelmed me. I could hardly move, let alone march down the ramp with a beautiful, huge crown on my head.
Looking back to when I was a little girl I can remember how completely mesmerized I would be when I would see the Miss Teen Ontario East girls at events in and around our community. I always looked up to the previous title holders. I honestly thought they were celebrities. They were all so kind, smart and genuine. I can remember them always taking the time to come and talk to me at events they would be volunteering at. As a little kid, having a real princess approach you and ask how you’re doing and how school is going, is probably one of the most exciting things that could happen to you. I think that was why I found it so surreal to actually be crowned Miss Teen Ontario East 2015. I was now in the same place as all of those girls that I had looked up to and admired!
During my reign as Miss Teen Ontario East 2015, I took part in some extraordinary events and made some wonderful memories that I will cherish in my heart forever. My first official duty as Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 was at “Plays on the Porch”, a local acting group in my home town. I was asked to speak in front of some very talented young actors and actresses about the pageant, performing in front of an audience, and how I coped with answering the dreaded impromptu question on stage. I was nervous at first. At the time I hadn’t done a lot of public speaking. Again, reflecting on the girls before me, and how amazing they had been really put the pressure on because I wanted to represent the pageant just as well as they did. Once I got to the event, started speaking and expressing my love of performing and how fun and exciting it could be, I really felt comfortable. The pageant and their Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign are two things that I am very passionate about, so I soon took to my new role with enthusiasm and a great deal of dedication. I knew that as long as I was myself, passionate about the cause and kind in nature, I would fulfill the duties of Miss Teen Ontario East. That day was the first of over 60 events that I attended and volunteered at in my region supporting all different causes. Some of my favorites events included:
The Spring Bloom art show for Candlelighters, the CHEO Telethon, The Trees of Hope auction, CHEO’s Teddy Bear Picnic, Cobden’s haunted walk, the Parkinson Super Walk, the Eganville races, the Miss Madawaska Valley Pageant, the Ottawa Toy Parade and several other Santa Clause and St. Patrick Day parades.
As Miss Teen Ontario East 2015, I was given some great opportunities and met some amazing people. For example, this past year, my home community hosted The World Kayaking Championships and the Director
of this event was kind enough to ask me to be a Co-Ambassador along with Delaney Holley, Miss Intercontinental Canada 2014. The event was held at Wilderness Tours and opened up with a big parade and ceremony that showcased our Canadian and Ottawa Valley heritage. After the parade, I was given the opportunity to meet the athletes and hear many of their stories. It was amazing to be a part of an international sporting event! The kayakers were all so friendly and inclusive and invited me to take part in their journey with them. Although it was an international competition, the athletes were genuinely happy to be in Canada, doing what they love, meeting new people and making memories.
Holding the title of Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 also gave me the opportunity to do live radio interviews, voice radio commercials, be interviewed on CTV (national television) about my Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign and partake in several newspaper and community magazine interviews. I rode in 10 parades in our region for many different occasions, and I was introduced and volunteered for a variety of different charities. It was an incredible insight into how important it is for our generation to promote volunteerism and charity involvement. All charities rely on volunteers to donate time and effort so they can in turn assist those that need their support; cancer patients, heart and stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s etc.
The most inspiring event that I had the honor of attending as Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 was LIGHT the NIGHT GOLD on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. In honor of September being officially recognized at Childhood Cancer Awareness month, in a special evening ceremony attended by Childhood Cancer Champions and their families, Oncology medical professionals and many Parliamentary dignitaries, the Parliament Buildings were lit gold for those who have been affected by childhood cancer. The ceremony opened with a parade of young heroes and their families all dressed in gold, followed by some touching speeches and musical performances. To witness so many different people gather together to support something they are all passionate about, was truly beautiful and powerful. My personal inspiration is my sister Jill. Before she was diagnosed with cancer I had no idea what childhood cancer really entailed or what these kids and their families really go through. The devastation to someone so young and so close to you being diagnosed with such a harsh disease can be unbearable and certainly heartbreaking. Seeing how brave my sister was through it all, and how brave all of these children are has truly inspired me and touched my heart! When I saw all the champions and their families gather on the Hill and when I experienced the moment with them when the Peace Tower was lit gold, I felt hope for the future and for a cure. There wasn’t a dry eye on Parliament Hill that night!
It was an honor for me to hold the title of Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 and it was bittersweet to crown my successor this past month at the 2016 Teen Ontario East Pageant. However, the gorgeous Sophia Decarle Miss Teen Ontario East 2016 will be a wonderful representative and will do amazing things this year! It was an incredible pageant once again and for me, it was topped off when I was officially crowned with my new title Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2016 by my predecessor, the beautiful Theresa Papalinskie, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2015.
Representing the M.T.O.E. pageant as Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 and now as Miss Teenage Canada 2016 has been without a doubt, a highlight in my life. Last year I joined a family that I love with all my heart; The Teen Ontario East “Sisterhood”. All of the past title holders and delegates of the Miss Teen Ontario East pageant have been so kind and thoughtful through my year as Miss Teen Ontario East and now as I start my reign as Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario.
Pageants so often receive a negative public opinion because some people think they are superficial and all about outer beauty. I disagree! I truly believe I have grown as a person, gained confidence in myself, developed strong public relations and public speaking skills, been introduced and become passionate about various charities and not for profit organizations, learned the importance of Time Management, prioritizing activities in my life and I have met some truly wonderful and inspirational people that have given me a new appreciation for life and how I choose to live mine. All of these achievements were accomplished through my involvement with a pageant!
I am excited to expand my pageant experience and participate as a delegate in the 2016 Miss Teenage Canada pageant, representing my home pageant and region at the national level. The Teenage Canada pageant emphasizes the motto;
“BE YOUR OWN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL”
a wonderful motto and a great message for all of us to follow.
I would like to sign off with one of my favorite quotes from a famous actress who represented true beauty, grace and compassion; the gorgeous SOPHIA LOREN
“BEAUTY begins the MOMENT you decide to BE YOURSELF!”