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Who will be crowned this year's Miss Yuma County?
Scroll through the photos to read about the contestants and their platforms.
The Miss Yuma County Scholarship Pageant is far more than a beauty pageant; it is a service organization. The winner of the pageant works hard during her reign to promote her platform in the community.
This year's nine contestants are already raising awareness of a variety of issues that affect society. They are calling for a stop to bullying, raising awareness of human trafficking and domestic violence and advocating for alcohol-free fun and physical education for youth, among others.
When asked why she was running for Miss Yuma County, Amber Malenowsky said, “I want the opportunity to serve our community by addressing the very important issue of our teens abusing alcohol. The honor of being Miss Yuma County would help me greatly in ensuring my message is successfully delivered, but most importantly heard.”
Another contestant Payton Patane said she wanted to win the title in order to impact the community with her platform: the importance of physical education in youth.
She would accomplish this “by starting some workshops and fun events for kids/students in kindergarten to high school to stay active and physically fit and provide information about the benefits and hazards of being non-active and active,” Patane said.
As Miss Yuma County, the winner has the ability to shine a special spotlight on her platform for a full year. Who will take the crown this year?
The community will find out Nov. 3 at Kofa High School Auditorium; the newest winner will be crowned during the pageant starting at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20 and are available at missyumacounty.org and from the contestants.
“We put on a show comparable to the Miss Arizona Pageant,” said Melanie Negroni, co-executive director with Annalisa McBride for the Miss Yuma County Scholarship Pageant.
“This year we will be crowning our 10th Miss Yuma since the seven-year long break after the fair board decided not to renew their franchise,” she explained.
Pageant organizers have invited nine past Miss Yuma County titleholders to help emcee the pageant this year.
“They have done some really amazing things with their lives since their Miss Yuma days,” Negroni said.
The program is also looking for scholarship sponsors. The Miss America Organization is one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women, Negroni noted.
Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance.
The Miss Yuma County Scholarship Pageant strives to award more than $15,000 in academic scholarships and prizes every year to young women in the local community.
“We calculated how much has been awarded to all contestants from 2004 to today. It's over $100,000. This is amazing for a local organization run strictly by volunteers,” Negroni said.
“Our sponsors place a huge role in the success of our pageant. We wouldn't be able to give these contestants the scholarship money to further their education without our local sponsors.”
She said the six-member board is especially grateful to sponsors Pacesetters Home Centers, 1st Bank Yuma and Jim and Clint Underhill for their “generous” support year after year.
Anyone can be a scholarship donor. To find out how to donate, contact pageant organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the “Contact us” tab at www.missyumacounty.org.
The website also has a PayPal button under the sponsor tab, which allows community members to donate.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.