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Local pageant winner says service, not looks, key to success

Lee Herald Favicon 16A successful pageant winner can evoke a lot of ideas. One of the first, for better or for worse, are looks cultivated in to competition to be graded.  Kelsey Craft, last year’s Miss International winner from Florida, wants you to know that there’s way more to it than that.

“A lot of people look at the pageants and competitions as a best looking kind of deal wins, but a lot of people don’t understand just how intelligent and driven these women are,” Craft said.

A recent graduate of the Nova Southwestern Physician Assistant program, she’s dedicated most of her life to school.  Having gone to college in Idaho and becoming a certified nursing assistant, it’s very obvious peoples’ health and well-being is important to her.

“A lot of pageant naysayers go on about how its only thin, attractive women, but in the International program, they actually focus on being a positive person, even having a fitness category.  It’s not always women looking like models that score insanely high, they try to cultivate positive self-image in every contestant,” she said.

Living in Fort Myers specifically has given her a lot of opportunities to help out.  The International Pageants expects effort out of their candidate.  Community service and time given back to their individual regions are required.

“Having a medical background is awesome, but I’ve done everything from public speaking to fund raising events and I’m constantly working with groups to help get healthier food in the hands of those that need it,” Craft said. “I think being proactive is more important than resting in my laurels.  I want to be the positive image in someone’s life, you know?  I want the winners who follow me to look at what I’ve done in my tour of the U.S. and my work with Blue Zones and take it as a challenge.  The whole be the change you want to see mantra is important.”

The Blue Zones Project is about living healthier and doing your best to uplift the communities you live in.

After winning the Florida tiara, she did a tour of the U.S., trying to give back and set the best example for people, much less contestants.

“Florida is a gorgeous state, and it’s home for the time being, but there are so many things to go out and see.  I’m a Washington state girl originally, so the mountains and trails out there are gorgeous.  Even in the nation’s capital, we were in D.C. and went to visit the World War 2 memorial and ran in to the Honor Flight while they were doing their tour.  Spending time with them at the memorial is honestly one of the most humbling things I’ve ever done, they’re such an inspiration at all points.”

She’s handing off her tiara soon, but she’s not letting that stop her from doing her best.

“Even without the competing, I plan on working just as hard, you can’t let a little downtime ruin your stride, though I will say it’s good to be back in Southwest Florida for a quiet moment.”


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