If the world were a pageant and royalty were determined not by birth but by the content of one's character, 17-year-old Kira Gilbraith of Harwood might be a queen.
The daughter of Wes and Tammy Gilbraith, she will be a senior at West Fargo High School next fall and said she plans on entering the Teen Miss North Dakota International pageant next April.
Previously she held the title of Dream Girls USA International Teen Miss 2005. Due in part to her long hours spent doing community service, volunteer work and making special appearances, she was crowned Dream Girls USA National Royalty Supreme 2006 at the Dream Girls USA National Pageant in Schaumburg, Ill., over Memorial Day weekend.
Dream Girls are active throughout their communities and states. Their motto is "Don't Just Dream it, Do it."
Kira said her pet project is called "Queen for a Day," where young cancer patients are turned into beauty queens complete with makeup, manicures, capes and their very own tiaras. She took part in a "Queen for a Day" last Monday at MeritCare and said afterward that the reaction of little girls in the program made all her efforts very rewarding.
"It's worth it to see the looks on people's faces," she said. "It's good for the little girls. It brightens their day and lets them know they're special. I feel good knowing that I helped them feel good."
Her community service has included raising money for children's hospitals, ringing bells for the Salvation Army during Christmas time, and brightening the day of girls in the YWCA by holding two 'girls' nights' complete with makeup, painting nails and playing games. She said what she treasures most are the opportunities to be a role model for younger girls.
Inspiring in others the hope for a brighter day through her community service volunteerism is an appropriate desire for Kira because hers is a story of dreams deferred and success achieved finally.
The subject of the 'Teen Scene' feature in Pageantry Magazine's winter issue, she detailed how her dreams were crushed, but how things worked out for the greater good in the long run.
She composed the article herself: "As a young girl growing up in the Fargo, North Dakota, area, it was my dream to be a Packatahna, a member of the West Fargo High School's elite dance team. The first step was to make it on the junior high dance team, for which I auditioned. When I wasn't chosen for the team, I was devastated! My dream was crushed!"
She learned soon that this had happened for a reason
"Since I hadn't prepared for not making the team, I didn't know what to do," she writes. "Thankfully, my mom knew. She signed me up for studio dance, where I have found that I love how dancing lets me express myself through movements and how ballet has given me both grace and poise."
She said she loves to dance, including tap, ballet, hip-hop, swing and jazz classes, and credited studio dance for opening the doors to the pageant world for her. If she had not failed in the Packatahna tryout, she would not have begun pageantry. And if she had not begun pageantry, she would not be involved with the community service and volunteerism she is now.
It all began when her ballet teacher asked her to be in a preliminary pageant for the Miss North Dakota Youth Pageant.
As fate would have it, she lost the pageant but liked it so much that she used the experience as a growing opportunity. She learned about pageantry, developed stage presence and modeling skills and eventually got involved with Dream Girls USA to give it another try.
And this has all been a totally unexpected outcome for her mother, who confessed that she never cared much about pageantry when she was in school. Tammy said she's proud of Kira for her successes and how she's benefiting herself and the community at large, even though when she was Kira's age she was more interested in track, basketball and cheerleading.
An honor-role student, Kira wants to enjoy her senior year and said after high school she wants to go to MSUM or NDSU to study mass communications, with an emphasis in broadcast journalism, because she wants to be a TV anchor or a news reporter.
"Queen for a Day" began in 2000 when Jenna Edwards, a graduate of the University of Miami who was crowned Miss Teen All America in 1999, Miss Oktoberfest in 2000, and Miss Florida in 2004, approached the children's clinic in Jackson, Miss., about donating her pageant tiaras to young cancer patients in the hospital. She heard the clinic wanted to give a tea party for the young girls and then collaborated with the Children's Cancer Clinic to develop "Queen for a Day."
For more information about Dream Girls USA, go to www.dreamgirlsusapageant.com.