Melanoma prevention is more than just a cause to me; it is a passion that has expanded as a result of a personal experience with the disease. When my grandfather passed away in 2008 from melanoma, I witnessed first-hand the devastating effect this horrible disease has on both victims and their loved ones. Soon after his passing, I learned that melanoma is almost 100% preventable. I vowed then to make it my mission to raise awareness of this deadly cancer. My family and I became involved with fundraisers and 5Ks to raise money for melanoma awareness in our community.
A few years later, I became interested in the Miss America organization. As a fifth-grade Girl Scout, I had met Miss Massachusetts 2008. Each young woman who participates in a Miss America Scholarship Organization pageant chooses a platform, or a cause, they feel passionate about. As I listened back then to Miss Massachusetts speaking about her platform of body image awareness, she made a lasting impact on me and my peers. I knew immediately that I wanted to become Miss Massachusetts myself someday. My first step toward reaching that goal was to participate in the Miss Massachusetts’ Outstanding Teen pageant as a freshman in high school, and I chose my platform to be melanoma awareness. I named it “Melanoma Awareness: Educate. Demonstrate. Terminate.”
The Miss America organization served as an avenue for me to spread my message to a broader audience. I held a fundraiser to collect funds for educational materials to distribute to my former high school. Now, students at my alma mater are learning about melanoma in their health classes. I also created my own skin safety program for preschool and elementary school children. I aimed my outreach at children because they are so trusting and they truly listen to what they are taught. I knew that if I told them that they could get wrinkly by not wearing sunscreen, they would definitely wear sunscreen, and probably would convince their parents and families to do the same.
I have presented my skin safety program to many groups of children around the state, including Girls Scout troops, Boy Scout troops, preschool classes, school-age classes, library groups, etc. It is surreal to me that just as Miss Massachusetts visited my Girl Scout troop and taught me about her platform, I am now visiting Girl Scout troops and teaching them about my platform. Seven years after I first became motivated to achieve my goal, I am still working toward becoming Miss Massachusetts and I am amazed by how much this organization has helped me raise awareness of my platform.
I am very excited about my new partnership with Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation and this wonderful opportunity to expand my platform even further!