Miss Utah pageant stresses community service

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    By Kadie Calder

    Beauty Pageants no longer focus solely on beauty, but also on community service, and the Miss Utah pageant is no exception.

    Rhea Kiisel, Miss Utah pageant director said, “The emphasis of the pageant is community service and personal improvement.”

    This year”s 59 Miss Utah contestants have donated a total of 50,000 hours of community service. Each pageant contestant was required to choose a service platform to promote during their year of service.

    Miss Utah pageant producer Chad Hulet, said, “It is amazing to look at the 59 girls here and see the hours they”ve dedicated to their platforms.”

    Projects range from literacy to organ and tissue donation. Contestants visited local schools, organized programs and raised funds in support of their platform.

    “Even more impressive is that each girl already competed in a local pageant where there were around 15 other girls who also contributed hundreds of hours.” Hulet said. “This number doesn”t even include service hours by contestants who didn”t win their local pageants.”

    Kiisel said, “Many people don”t realize that the Miss Utah pageant provides a forum for young women to contribute directly to their community.”

    Jami Palmer, the reigning Miss Utah, has promoted pediatric cancer awareness. Palmer, a junior from Tremonton, Utah, majoring in broadcast journalism, established an endowment fund for cancer survivors at the Primary Children”s Hospital.

    Palmer said the reason she set up the fund was to bring hope back into the lives of cancer patients.

    Palmer”s fund received $50,000 dollars from John M. Huntsman, which will be distributed over five years.

    Huntsman contributed the money, asking it be matched each year with community donations, said Palmer.

    Palmer has also organized a program to help pediatric cancer survivors re-enter school.

    “The program educates classmates and helps to create a support network,” Palmer said.

    Palmer is also a spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

    A cancer survivor herself, Palmer said she began competing in pageants after overcoming her cancer.

    “After chemotherapy, there is a loss of femininity as you lose your hair and eyebrows and eyelashes, so pageants were a way for me to feel like a girl again,” said Palmer.

    Palmer said her service platform has always been cancer awareness.

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