So what should that crown REALLY represent?
A while back I happened to stumble upon a blog titled: The Mrs. Oklahoma Pageant. Imagine the surprise I felt when I saw that a quote from my novel was the topic of a post. I stared at the words “Finding your fire” and then read what was said. Lauri Rottmayer, the author of that post, is the Executive Director of the Mrs. Oklahoma International Pageant. As I spent time reading about The Mrs. Oklahoma Pageant and what it truly exemplifies, I was impressed. So much so that I contacted Lauri to thank her for referencing a passage from my novel. Well, Lauri and I hit it off from the get-go, and I knew instantly that her beautiful smile and the sparkle in her eyes revealed the woman she is— charming, wise, and witty.
I asked Lauri if she’d like to share her story here on BRAVA! and she graciously accepted. So here, in Lauri’s own words, is the story behind The Mrs. Oklahoma Pageant.
So, what should that crown really represent?
When most people think of pageants, they think of women strutting across the stage in bathing suits and high heels. Superficial beauty topped by a sparkly crown with about as much substance as cotton candy. It’s thought that the women who compete in pageants are catty, backbiting and selfish. Not so in my world. Not with my titleholders.
It’s not everyone who can say that they are inspired by an assortment of amazing women on a daily basis. But I am blessed. I can say that. As the executive director of the Mrs. Oklahoma International Pageant, every day is inspirational for me. The reason is due to my state and local titleholders.
Our pageant is community service platform based. Most women have a passion inside that they want to share with the world or at least their local community. The community service aspect of our pageant offers these women a way to do just that. A friend of mine shared that in my role, I help women to become more than they already are. Humbling, yes, but I do feel that I serve as a mentor to the women who choose to participate.
An encourager by nature, gratification comes as I watch each woman travel along the path from when she receives her local title until she competes at the state pageant and beyond. To watch the confidence and knowledge build as they go from event to event is wonderful. They come to me with an idea. They are then awarded a title and go to work. The crown and banner opens doors. While it shouldn’t be that way, I learned myself as a younger woman the power of being Mrs. Titleholder. People who wouldn’t normally listen to me all of a sudden wanted to hear what I had to say.
Our ladies are starting non-profit organizations, heading up committees in already established organizations and working with their representatives to enact legislation that will help whatever their chosen cause may be.
Mrs. Oklahoma 2007, Brooke Good, is a young mother of two from Walters. She herself is a survivor of sexual child abuse and wants girls to know that they can overcome the nightmare of this abuse. She works with the girls at the Marie Detty Girls Home in Lawton. By sharing her story this past year at fundraising events, she helped to raise over $70,000 for the Samaritan Counseling Center in Bartlesville and the Christian Family Counseling Center in Lawton so disadvantaged women can receive counseling for sexual abuse. Brooke continues this work although her reign as Mrs. Oklahoma ended in 2008.
Rachel Roberts of Tulsa, Mrs. Oklahoma 2009, is the mother of four year old Maddy. After Maddy’s birth, Rachel suffered from severe post partum depression. Since Rachel first entered our system in 2006, she has spent her time speaking to groups about post partum depression awareness and working with her representatives to let them know the importance of their support of the MOTHERS Act. In her farewell speech at the March pageant, she said, “This pageant has helped me turn a very difficult and almost fatal time in my life into something I feel passionate about”.
Our newly crowned Mrs. Oklahoma, Heidi Ducato, was present when her aunt had a heart attack. Not knowing the signs of heart attack in women, Heidi was terrified and didn’t know what to do. After her experience, she wondered, “Is there more that I could be doing?” She wanted to find a way to prevent what she had witnessed from happening to anyone else. She found the American Heart Association and her “HEART fell in love” with the Go Red for Women movement.
Inspirational? You bet.
While these three women are the ones I used as examples of my inspiration, I am equally influenced and inspired by my local titleholders as well. They are all strong, committed women with a passion for the cause they have chosen to represent. I love that they share their excitement and successes with me.
The interesting story that surrounds each woman brings me new inspiration on a daily basis. I don’t have daughters of my own but if I did, I would take any one (or all!) of the amazing women I get the privilege of working with.
I’m proud to be involved in this pageant system and to be able to mentor such an incredible group of women. Oftentimes the women who choose to compete say they are looking to do something for themselves but ultimately they end up doing so much more for the people around them. Beautiful inside and out, they are raising awareness, raising funds and effecting change in their communities and our state. We laugh together, cry together, and support each other through our collective journeys. It’s awesome!