Rayni Lasley Wins “Miss Macomb”
Twelve of them smiled and sauntered across the stage — putting weeks of work and knowledge of current events to the test — before a nearly filled Fellheimer Auditorium this weekend, and only one of them walked away with the title and a $5,000 scholarship.
The preparation had started in January and, after the 54th annual Miss Macomb Scholarship Pageant Sunday, some contestants admitted that while the experience of vying for the crown was ultimately rewarding, the pressure was at times stressful.
But some of that pressure — it’s what Miss Macomb 2013 Rayni Lasley said was her favorite part.
“I like the interviews, which I don’t know if that counts (as a part of the pageant event) since it was earlier today,” the 21-year-old said after she’d won the title. “But I feel like when you have that 10 minutes, it’s kind of a lot of pressure because you have 10 minutes to make them like you and impress the judges.”
A junior at Western Illinois University, Lasley said she’d decided to compete for Miss Macomb over the holiday break.
The Springfield native came into the competition with some pageant experience under her belt, but said she was still “kind of shocked” when Megan Ervin, Miss Macomb 2011 and Miss Illinois 2012, who emceed the event, called her name.
“My best friends in the pageant also got first and second runner up. So we’re just really excited to get it together …” Lasley said. “I’ve done county pageants before and Miss Illinois USA before, but I’ve never won, so that’s why it’s really exciting.”
First runner up and WIU junior Kelsey Peters, 22, said both she and the crowd of friends and family who came to support her were “kind of bummed out” she didn’t win the pageant.
Still, she’d been one of the first on stage to hug Lasley after Miss Macomb 2012 Krista Shirley had pinned in the crown. And she said she’s pleased to come out of the competition with “11 new friends.”
Like Peters, second runner up Karmyn Dorethy, a 20-year-old WIU freshman, pointed to her new friendships over the loss of winning.
“We all worked really, really hard, and I went into thinking, ‘I better win,’” Dorethy said. “But when it started, I fell in love with all the other girls. They were all so talented and amazing that it came down to anyone.”
The pageant included several performances from non-contestants catering to the event’s “Music of Marvin Hamlisch” theme, including a few from Shirley. The 12 competitors also first entered the stage dancing to “One” with Shirley and Miss Macomb Princess 2012 Kalea Foster.
It then went into the talent portion, which included speed painting, singing, dancing and baton twirling.
All three pageant winners danced for their talent.
However, their dancing performance may have been the least-stressful part of the competition.
“Well, I’ve been dancing for my whole life, so that’s kind of second nature for me. That’s the easy part. That’s the stuff I rely on,” Dorethy said. “The other stuff’s a little more stressful. But I would rather do the dancing a hundred times.”
Dorethy, originally of Colchester, also incorporated dance into her answer during the on-stage question competition, during which she was asked: “Tell me something that will make me remember you?”
The 20-year-old replied she dances her way through every experience in her life.
Lasley and Peters’ question called for their opinion on current event topics.
Peters was asked whether the oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico should be built, and Lasley was asked to choose which issue between concealed carry, the state’s budget and pension reform should Illinois lawmakers address first.
Other question topics varied from children’s education and bullying prevention to allowing women in military combat and the legalization of drugs.
The pageant event also included an evening wear and swimsuit competition.
The total amount in scholarship funds raised for this year’s event was $7,450. In 2012, it’d been $6,850 — reportedly the most of any local pageant in the state.
Lasley said it was the contestant’s requirement to have and culture a platform that set this pageant experience apart from others.
“I think that’s what makes the ‘Miss America’ organization different, having a cause to speak for. That’s something that made it really special,” she said. “My platform has been something that’s always been special to me — teen suicide prevention. Through (Miss Macomb), it’s helped me think of different ways to support my platform.”
In addition to the Miss Macomb title, Lasley won $250 for her platform essay. Dorethy and Peters also won honorable mentions for their essays; their respective platforms were childhood obesity and dance therapy for kids with special needs. The Macomb Altrusa Club provided their respective essay awards.
McDonough County Voice