Pageants tend to get a negative reaction when they are discussed with people who have a misconceived idea about what participating in a pageant is all about. It is particularly challenging for a teenager to address peer pressure when someone voices their strong opinion about your desire to compete in a pageant. I think as pageant delegates, we have all faced these nay-sayers. But like anything you decide to do in life, you must make your own choices and just appreciate the opinions of others. I am proud to say that I AM A PAGEANT Girl!
I was first introduced to pageantry through my fellow Barry’s Bayer, the lovely Theresa Paplinkskie, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2015. Theresa, as one of her fund-raising events for Free the Children decided, with the help of the incredible Teen Ontario East Pageant team to re-introduce our local pageant formerly called the Timberfest Pageant but renamed to the Miss Madawaska Valley Pageant. It was a smaller scale production hosted in my home town of Barry’s Bay. It was extremely well received by the community and after pageant night, I was honored with the title of Miss Madawaska Valley 2016.
The main prize package for Miss Madawaska Valley was registration into the regional pageant Miss Teen Ontario East; A PAGEANT with a PURPOSE! This is when I was first introduced to the wonderful team of ladies behind the Teen Ontario East Pageant and their passion for their charity platform focus; Childhood Cancer Awareness. The Miss Teen Ontario Pageant 2016 opened my eyes to the incredible world of volunteering and charity work and I became a true pageant enthusiast!
The Miss Teen Ontario East pageant is a not-for-profit event that extends over one weekend in the month of April. Delegates come from throughout the Eastern Ontario region to compete and the entire weekend is an eye-opening and truly impacting experience. There are the competition categories that are aligned with a pageant; photoshoots, modeling sessions, talent competitions, interviews, and questions but this pageant is focused on their passion for their charity; Childhood Cancer Awareness. Over the span of 4 days the delegates participating get the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of incredible young cancer champions. It is a weekend that truly changes your perspective on life. When we first arrived for orientation, we were introduced to Paige Dillabough, a beautiful and incredibly strong young woman who defied the odds and beat brain cancer as an 8-year-old child. Her story is heart-wrenching and yet so inspiring! She presented her Courage Bead Necklace; a necklace comprised of 1000s of coloured beads each representing a specific treatment that she had to endure. It was very impacting! That someone that young had to go through so much just to survive. It really makes you appreciate the true gift that life is. And Paige’s story was just ONE that we would hear about over pageant weekend.
The MTOE (Miss Teen Ontario East) organization is comprised of an incredibly energetic and comical group of volunteers who spend countless hours throughout the year promoting their Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign and then bring it all together for an entertaining and inspiring Pageant weekend. Any proceeds from the pageant production or from the various fund raisers held by the MTOE committee throughout the year are donated to childhood cancer charities which is why they have been dubbed; A PAGEANT with a PURPOSE by our community. I was so proud just to compete in this amazing event and the fact that I was representing my area and introducing them to the Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign made it all that more special.
The weekend was a blast! We attended charity events, did some media interviews, were hosted for dinner at the home of Kathleen Barr, Miss Teen Ontario East 2015, we rehearsed and we danced a lot! It was the best weekend!
The weekend concluded with the pageant production which was hosted in front of a sold- out audience. It was so much fun! At the end of the night, I was stunned when it was my name that was called for the title of Miss Teen Ontario East 2016! My gorgeous crown, encrusted with beautiful childhood cancer awareness gold ribbons was placed on my head and I did my first official walk as Miss Teen Ontario East.
That night ignited a year of events and appearances that have truly impacted my life. The year went by so quickly and on April 23, 2017, I crowned my successor to the Title of Miss Teen Ontario East the lovely Danika Jenkins.
The Teen Ontario East Pageant is unique because as a titleholder we reign for a complete year; attending events, working with childhood cancer charities, acting as Ambassador for regional charity and community organizations and gaining valuable experience in public speaking and public relations. At the end of our reign as Miss Teen Ontario East, we are then given the title of Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario and are given the honor of representing our Eastern Ontario region at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant. I was crowned Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario by the gorgeous Kathleen Barr who took home the Top Fundraising Award at the 2016 Miss Teenage Canada Pageant and the 3rd Runner Up title.
I am so excited to be a delegate in the Miss Teenage Canada pageant 2017 and I am honored to be representing the Teen Ontario East pageant, the Eastern Ontario region and our charity platform; Childhood Cancer Awareness.
Till next time,
Sophia, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2017