Local resident using pageant to encourage youth hurt by addiction | News, Sports, Jobs

Katie Rankin is participating in Petite USA 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She applied to the pageant in February and received a notification shortly afterwards she was chosen by a selection committee as Mrs. Northeast Petite USA 2022. Her platform is supporting and encouraging youth effected by parental or family substance abuse and she is partnering with Camp Frederick’s Camp Good Grief in Rogers. (Salem News photo by Danielle Garner)

COLUMBIANA — Local resident Katie Rankin has been selected as Mrs. Northeast Petite USA 2022.

Rankin was inspired to explore pageantry after volunteering with the Tri-State Cinderella Project based out of Wellsville. The Tri-State Cinderella Project helps girls obtain dresses, shoes and jewelry for formal events at little to no cost.

“I did it and I was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing,'” she commented. “The confidence building really meant a lot to me.”

After losing her mother, Rankin lost her confidence and her emotional well-being deteriorated. Her mother had stopped drinking abruptly in an effort to improve her daughter’s circumstances.

“We moved and she worked like crazy to get me through school and everything. She did a lot.” Rankin said.

Participating in a fashion show for Tri-State Cinderella Project inspired Rankin’s love for pageants.

Petite USA was founded by Hazely Lopez-Alvarez in 2009 with a vision to empower petite beauty of 5-foot, 6-inches or less. Qualifications include moral character, good health and citizenship.

“A lot of the time when you are in a pageant a woman of shorter height is less likely to be picked because there are so many modeling contracts that go in afterwards and a lot of agencies want women who are taller,” Rankin explained.

Participating in Petite USA 2022 has also given Rankin an online community of friends and support. She connects through Zoom sessions, Facebook and scheduled chats. She discusses other contestants’ platforms such as domestic violence, human trafficking and mental health.

“It’s really about what’s in your heart and how you’re making a difference in the community,” she said.

When Rankin struggles with her confidence or anxiety, she has a community of other contestants to support her through this journey. She struggled with bullying when she was younger as she grew up in a household plagued by substance abuse, violence and poverty.

“That took a lot on me,” she said. “I just didn’t have that confidence.”

After losing her father, Rankin spent years learning how to care for herself. She developed a routine attending counseling, finding community in the church, pursuing interests and self reflecting.

“I’m still in the healing process. I don’t think it happens over night and a lot of that is miscommunicated on social media,” she said. “I truly believe it’s a process.”

Rankin’s platform for Petite USA encourages youth to break the cycle of addiction. She said she wishes to create a positive impact for children affected by parental or family substance abuse.

The process creating an affirmative and beneficial experience for children has not been smooth sailing, but Rankin’s persistence has inspired her to remain flexible.

Covid ravaged her plans to start her non-profit Bear’s Den Youth Camp for adolescents affected by addiction. She teamed up with her husband and friends along with Camp Frederick in Rogers instead to sponsor a camping experience for children aged 6 through 16 experiencing the impact of addiction.

“This year is the first year we are really going to be impacting lives,” Rankin said. “We are partnering with Camp Good Grief.”

The idea is inspired from Rankin’s experience losing her father while she was a teenager.

“By holding this title I want to spread positive light and platform awareness because I think if children are led in the right direction that ultimate cycle of addiction can be broken,” she said.

Rankin said she wants youth to understand life is different on the other side of addiction. She said she believes younger people learning to value choosing themselves will help illustrate a different path.

“It’s for them to decide who they are without that toxic environment so that they can break that entire cycle,” she said.

Rankin is currently fundraising for her expenses incurred by participating in Petite USA 2022. The pageant will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin Aug. 10-13. The event will be held live on Facebook.

Rankin is accepting donations through Venmo, Paypal and personal check. Those interested in donating can contact Rankin at Kaitlinmallin@gmail.com or on Facebook by searching for Katie Rankin.

A raffle basket filled with gift cards, T-shirts, hats, and Raising Cane’s merchandise is being raffled at Rankin’s Meat Market LLC located at 111 Chestnut Alley. Funds will help pay for fees, wardrobe, make-up and hair along with travel expenses. Tickets are sold as one for $1 or 6 for $5 until April 1.

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