Ranch resident lives dream as Mrs. Colorado

Posted 3/2/12

There’s a new queen of Colorado and she hails from Highlands Ranch. Crowned this year’s Mrs. Colorado on Feb. 25 at the Buell Theatre in Denver, …

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Ranch resident lives dream as Mrs. Colorado


There’s a new queen of Colorado and she hails from Highlands Ranch.

Crowned this year’s Mrs. Colorado on Feb. 25 at the Buell Theatre in Denver, Courtney Graham, a former stunt and body double on “Baywatch Hawaii” and present-day director of human resources for Ready Talk, described the experience as “surreal and humbling.”

A mother of two boys, Hunter, 10, and Dane, 5, who both play organized youth baseball and grapple for the Mountain Vista Wrestling Club, Graham moved to Colorado with her family in 2008 after growing up on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

“I did not grow up doing pageantry, but I did modeling and commercial work,” said Graham, who met her husband Darrell, now a respiratory therapist, during one of her modeling auditions.

Despite not growing up doing pageantry herself, Graham’s cousin, Malika Dudley, was named Miss Hawaii in 2005, which motivated Graham to do what she thought would simply be a one-time, cross-it-off-the-bucket-list experience.

“I watched her do it and though what a great way to be involved in the community and to network and build relationships,” said Graham, who entered her first Mrs. Colorado Pageant in 2009 and placed in the top 10.

Graham sat out in 2010, watched the competition — which consists of an interview, swimsuit modeling and evening gown wear — and thought to herself she could do better. So, she gave it another go in 2011 and finished as the third runner-up.

Yet after discovering her 36-year-old sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Graham decided that was it for doing pageants.

“I told her, ‘All that really matters is health and family,’ and she said, ‘Are you kidding me? That’s your dream. Why are you giving up?’ ... We made a sisterly pact at that point to live a purposeful life with no regrets and full of passion and for me not to give up on my dream.

“So, I decided to go back and go for the win. It’s so much more than what (people) think it is. It’s so much about preparation, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. It’s more of an art of letting your inner sunshine or inner sparkle radiate in the short time you are in front of the judges.”

When it came time to select her platform for her 2012 run, Graham did not choose breast cancer research, but still in the spirit of her sister, whom she calls her best friend, she ran on a platform of “living a purposeful life.”

“(It’s about) going after your dreams and encouraging women and people in our community to go for it, because you only have one shot at this, one life,” she said. “Everyone has a life-altering moment. For me it is my sister’s breast cancer. It was just a shock, she was just 36, healthy, there was no history of it in our family.”

For Graham, life revolves around family, whether it is in Highlands Ranch as a working mother, spending time with her sister, or spending time at the family home in Breckenridge, enjoying the outdoors, hiking, skiing or snowboarding.

“I have a love for the simple things in life and can attribute that to growing up on an island,” she said.

As for the pageant Graham says it helped her get into the best shape of her life, figure out who she is as a woman and navigate through the community and make friends.

“It’s so much more than just a beauty pageant,” she said. “It’s a sorority of women who get together, with the same goal, the same dream, it’s amazing the bond it creates. ... Some people have done it to overcome weight-loss issues. It’s almost like a woman’s retreat. ... I would encourage anyone in our community to do it.”

So what’s next for the winner of the Mrs. Colorado Pageant? She’ll be off to compete for the title of Mrs. America in May.

Begun in 1938 and reorganized in 1977, the Mrs. America pageant system is the oldest and largest pageant system honoring married women.

For more information on the Mrs. Colorado pageant visit www.mrscolorado.com.


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