Mrs. Missouri America continues dyslexia advocacy, other initiatives after competing in national pageant

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – “Amazing,” “exhausting,” and “one to remember,” was how Kate Wenger described her experience competing in the Mrs. America Pageant last month.

She was crowned Mrs. Missouri America in September and went on to compete in the Mrs. America Pageant Nov. 20. It was held in Las Vegas at the Westgate Hotel.

Wenger is a reading specialist at Bryan Middle School in the Francis Howell School District with a focus on dyslexia. Her pageantry platform as Mrs. Missouri America is spreading awareness of dyslexia, and expanding the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library throughout St. Charles County, and possibly having it widely available to the public statewide.

In preparation for Mrs. America, Wenger focused on her community, thinking about how she will represent married women in Missouri, and being a voice for those who have reading difficulties and dyslexia.

The week leading up to the pageant was spent rehearsing choreography and staging, interviewing with judges, having a photoshoot at Magic Seven Mountain, meeting pageant officials, and exploring the historic parts of the Westgate Hotel.

As a dancer, Wenger said her favorite part was learning the opening number for the pageant.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said.

Another memorable moment was when other visitors at the hotel stopped to talk with Wenger after noticing her Missouri sash. She said they shared which part of Missouri they were from and wished her good luck in the national competition.

Wenger also spent time getting to know the other 49 contestants.

“Everyone was extremely nice. Even though we are technically there all competing for one title, it never really felt as if we were in competition with one another,” she said.

On Nov. 20, there was a preliminary pageant in the afternoon and a finalist pageant in the evening, both with several rounds, including a swimsuit, a costume inspired by their state, and an evening gown.

With help from her family, Wenger’s state costume was inspired by the Pony Express. Before she left for the pageant, she received letters of support from her students and coworkers and put those in a mailbag that she used as part of her costume.

Wenger made it to the finalist pageant where her mom was her escort at the start of the show. She added that awards were given out for state costumes, swimsuits, and Miss Congeniality.

Although she did not receive awards, Wenger said she was happy for those who did win. After the awards, the top 15 were announced where Wenger was eliminated.

“I was disappointed but I took it in stride,” she said. “I wouldn’t have competed if I didn’t feel that I wasn’t able to fulfill the role of Mrs. America.”

“I’m one of 50. The odds are not necessarily there and it’s five people’s opinions who have never met me, so depending on what resonates with them and how they connect with me is part of it.”

The top 15 were narrowed down to six contestants where they had to answer the same question from the judges. The top three moved forward with another question, who were then selected as first-runner up, second runner-up, and Mrs. America.

Wenger is continuing her goals of expanding Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library throughout Missouri, working with Dyslexia St. Louis – Learning & Advocacy Center, and setting up a scholarship fund for families with financial hardships to receive services.

“I’m still doing a lot of work in my district as well to support my students and others as well,” she said.

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