Kimberly Heather Hoff of Scottsdale has watched her mother battle breast cancer since 2005 and now wants to raise cancer awareness across the state.
Krystle Delgado of Mesa said she volunteers at children’s homes because she experienced abuse as a child and understands the pain. And Jennifer Jean Heller of Mesa studies evolutionary biology and ecology at the University of Arizona and wants to spread the message that organ donation can turn any ordinary person into somebody’s hero.
The three women will represent the East Valley in the 2007 Miss Arizona pageant, which started Thursday night in Gilbert. The winner will advance to the Miss America pageant in January.
HORIZON HIGH GRAD
Hoff is not new to the pageant world.
“I’ve been doing pageants on and off since I’ve been 18,” the 21-year-old Scottsdale native said. “And when I won Miss Mesa I was so excited.”
Hoff said she played lacrosse, ran track and took part in competition cheerleading while attending Horizon High School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District.
Leaning on a pair of crutches made necessary by a leg injury this week, Hoff said the Miss Arizona pageant has taught her to never give up.
Delgado said she has aspired to this competition since she was young.
“I’ve always wanted to be the person that Miss America exemplifies,” she said. “Someone who’s strong, is balanced, beautiful on the inside and the outside.”
The 18-year-old completed her home schooling in 2005 at age 16.
Delgado said her service platform, “Healing Broken Hearts: Child Abuse,” was important to her because of personal experience with the issue.
She said that experience has inspired her to volunteer with children who have been victims of abuse, and she hopes to attend law school to become a prosecuting attorney so that she can protect children.
Heller, 20, was a reluctant entrant in the Miss Tucson Valley 2007 pageant.
Then representatives of the Tucson event contacted her and convinced her it would be a worthwhile thing to do. She won that crown and now represents her college town as well as her hometown of Mesa.
Heller graduated from Dobson High School in 2004, where she served as president of the orchestra council and as a member of the math team, Science Olympiad team and debate team. Heller was also a cellist with the Dobson symphony.
She is employed by Dial Corporation in Scottsdale and attends UA in Tucson, where she studies Spanish along with her science majors.
Heller said winning the title of Miss Arizona would help her education because of the scholarship money, and it would give her an opportunity to promote her service platform of raising organ donation awareness.
“We all have an opportunity to be an organ donor,” she said. “One person can make a big difference.”
Miss Arizona pageant
When: 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday
Where: Mesquite High School auditorium, 500 S. McQueen Road, Gilbert
Cost: $25 today; $35-$40 Saturday
See Miss Arizona pageant photos from Thursday night and meet the East Valley contestants in a slide show with audio.