By Lynette Carrington
On May 3, a distinguished and accomplished group of women will compete at Mesa Arts Center for the titles of Miss Junior Teen Arizona, Miss Teen Arizona, Miss Arizona, Ms. Arizona and Mrs. Arizona. The glitz and glamour of pageantry is only outshone by the beautiful spirits, many accomplishments and worthwhile platforms to which each contestant brings attention.
Patti Pace Council is the Executive Director of Miss Arizona United States, a position she has held proudly held for six years. “It is a ton of work. My daughter, Kayla Downs actually won Miss United States in this system in 2006. That’s where our connection began and the directorship became available in 2009 so I’ve been doing it ever since,” says Pace Council. Downs has since gone on to become a counselor at Phoenix Dream Center to young women who have been rescued out of the sex trade industry. “She has such a heart for charitable causes-I definitely know that the pageant world is where that started with her,” notes Pace Council
“We’ll be crowning five women on May 3,” Pace Council explains. “Our divisions tend to be less than 20 per age division, so it’s manageable.” An important part of each contestant’s competition is the attention she brings to a particular charitable organization or philanthropic cause. “The current Miss Junior Teen Arizona, Gabrielle Arcilla has supported the Severson Sisters which is an anti-bullying, and self-confidence organization geared to young ladies in the 13 to 18 age range. They do great work with these young girls.”
Pace Council continues, “My Miss Teen Arizona has a sad story. Last February, both of her parents were killed in a plane accident. They were both commercial pilots and they were out for some training in a small plane and were both killed. Samantha Anderson decided to go ahead and compete. Her parents had both supported an organization called Pilots for Kids. It’s an organization of pilots that goes to hospitals to visit young cancer patients. She’s been able to get involved with that organization and she’s a young pilot herself.” Anderson went to Phoenix Children’s Hospital back at Christmas and had 62 commercial pilots from the area show up to visit with children.
“Two of my title holders, Savanna Troupe and Melissa Younkins support the American Heart Association and the Go Red movement,” Pace Council explains. “Miss Arizona, Savanna Troup is a cardiovascular nurse, so this is something that is not only her platform but her career.”
“Mrs. Arizona started out her year (and prior to her year) was a big supporter of March of Dimes,” states Pace Council. “One of her children was premature and had some developmental issues. Through the pageant, we work a lot with the Veteran’s Hospital and she has found this new passion and desire to work with anything that has to do with veterans. So it’s pretty broad-the spectrum of what they personally support. Our organization has numerous organizations that we work with every year and we have established relationships with VA Hospital, Special Olympics and Best Buddies that we involve our girls in.”
Contestants in all five divisions of the Miss Arizona United States competitions are not necessarily lifetime pageant participants and they come from every walk of life. “We don’t do a lot of marketing other than social media marketing-we are word of mouth,” Pace Council says. “The United States system is the No. 2 system in the country for pageants. It has moved ahead of the Miss America program in the last two or three years in size and recognition. I think that the philanthropic side of it is what is doing that.” The program gives the contestants a platform and a way to really make a difference.
Winners at the Arizona level continue on to compete at the United States level and every division will go on to compete in the national United States pageant. Arizona has produced two national winners since Pace Council has been directing and there have also been many other Top 5 placements. For additional information on the five divisions of Miss Arizona United States, to vote for People’s Choice contestants and to purchase tickets visit www.arizonaunitedstatespageant.com.