Highlands Ranch resident Emily Sanders was crowned Miss Colorado for America Strong on June 5. As Colorado's representative, Sanders will now move on to the national stage to compete for the Miss for …
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Highlands Ranch resident Emily Sanders was crowned Miss Colorado for America Strong on June 5. As Colorado's representative, Sanders will now move on to the national stage to compete for the Miss for America Strong pageant in Las Vegas in November.
Sanders, who grew up in Thornton, said she was excited to win the competition, in which she said she was working to find herself. Sanders said that in her 20s, she left Colorado to be a showgirl in Las Vegas. She returned 10 years later, got married, had children and got divorced.
After divorce, Sanders said she went from full-time mom and wife to figuring out who she was and what she wanted.
“This was my first time competing in a pageant at 46 years of age,” Sanders said. “In doing this pageant, I have really learned more about myself. I was confident. I put everything into it. I knew if I did not win, I had put everything out there.”
Sanders said the pageant was a good fit to help her move forward. According to the pageant website, many women who join want to make a difference with an issue or cause, or want to celebrate a milestone or reach a goal to be stronger.
Sanders said she learned about the Colorado pageant by working with a friend before entering. She said it is important to her that the cliché that beauty pageants are about being a “Barbie Doll” and not about personality and talent is wrong. Sanders said she was honored to compete alongside many accomplished women in the Colorado competition, where most of the contestant scores came from the interview phase.
Sanders said while she had stage experience after performing in Las Vegas, learning the choreography and the pageantry of the Colorado event came with a learning curve.
Part of what drew Sanders to doing the Miss Colorado for America Strong pageant is the emphasis the program places on community engagement. Sanders said she is particularly interested in working with the nonprofit organization Blue Bench, which works to eliminate sexual assault and the impact it has on victim's lives.
As a rape survivor, Sanders said she is passionate to help victims understand it is not their fault, and wants to participate in the educational aspect of the programs.
Sanders said she was assaulted as a junior in high school but did not deal with the impact the incident had on her life until she was well into her 40s.
“I realized there were a lot of things I missed out on in my adulthood because I never addressed all of that,” Sanders said. “I can pinpoint events in my life that may have been different had I just dealt with a little bit of that. Then again, maybe I just was not ready.”
Sanders said while she is open to working with any local nonprofit organization, she is also interested in causes supporting breast cancer and in helping contractors get their own businesses off the ground.
When she is not preparing for a pageant, Sanders is business owner in Centennial. Sanders owns the Ilaria Salon and Medical Spa.
To work with Sanders or request her to make an appearance at community events, or programs, email the pageant office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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