For Michelle Heston of rural Woodburn, pageants are more than just about winning crowns, it’s about winning people’s hearts.
Heston’s new title is Iowa’s Classy Today’s American Woman, and she will be competing in the Today’s American Woman pageant in June in Greenville, S.C.
“I’m really excited about this one because it’s different than all the other ones,” Heston said. “You have your own platform, which I do, but then you’re also required to do community-based appearances every month. So, like this month, my community base is something to do with veterans.”
A theme for another month might be breast cancer awareness.
“It’s more public service than actually about you and just your own personal mission,” Heston said. “It gets you branching out into different things. It’s kind of what I wanted to be doing anyway in our community.”
There is a lot of pageant experience under Heston’s belt. She competed in America’s SUPER Pageant and won Mrs. Iowa International in 2011 and Iowa’s SUPER Mrs. in 2012.
At the Today’s American Woman pageant, Heston has the opportunity to compete for two different titles — her own division title and the national title.
According to Heston, the community-based approach is what drew her into this specific pageant.
“It’s more about doing things for others as to doing things for you. I didn’t get into pageantry for the thought of I’m going to get something out of it,” she said.
As for Heston’s personal platforms, she still does work for the Special Olympics. However, she also has a new platform that deals with drug rehabilitation called “Down with Dope, Up with Hope.”
“Our community has a meth addiction, and our community has a lot of kids using synthetic drugs,” Heston said. “And, there has been way too many overdoses, and the kids that are dying are kids that I know. It’s easy to like a kid when they’re getting all straight As and they can put on a smile and they come from a great family. But, a lot of times, those aren’t the kids that need you.”
She said her platform is personal to her and her family.
“When you watch somebody that you love struggle with addiction, it breaks your heart,” Heston said. “You can handle anything if it’s happening to you, but when it’s happening to somebody that you love, and there’s nothing you can do, it cuts that much deeper.”