CLAYTON Newly crowned Miss Thousand Islands Lonna K. McCary, 22, said she looks forward to visiting local schools to stress her platform, Love Shouldnt Hurt: Teen Domestic Violence Awareness.
Miss McCary will spend the year preparing to compete in June for the title of Miss New York, a precursor to the Miss America Pageant.
She was a victim of dating violence in 10th grade. After she entered the pageant world, it became her mission to put an end to it.
What we dont realize is that some teens decide to date their bully, she said.
Today she is back home in Irving, a Native American reservation community about 45 minutes south of Buffalo, after winning Miss Thousand Islands 2013 Saturday night at the Clayton Opera House. Miss McCary does not have to reside locally, but she is obligated to make appearances throughout the region.
Were kind of feeling it out to see how it goes, she said. It might be an important year for me.
Miss McCary is a graduate student at Hilbert College in Hamburg, a Buffalo suburb, and is interviewing for a state parks officer position. She aspires to join the New York State Parks Police Academy in Albany she has wanted to be a police officer since she was 8.
She competed for Miss New York this summer as Miss Buffalo 2012, but did not feel she had enough experience at the time.
Right after being Miss Buffalo, I was still fairly new to the Miss America organization, she said. I never really got to get my feet wet.
She hopes to place in the top five next June.
I think that what Im looking forward to is actually knowing what Im getting myself into, she said. Its my last year I can compete under the age limitations, so I want to make it my absolute best.
Anyone in the state can compete for Miss Thousand Islands, according to Shelby I. Cohen, Miss TI co-executive director.
Although she lives four hours from Clayton, Miss McCary found out about the pageant through word of mouth and watching last years winner, Allison Carlos, compete at Miss New York 2012.
I felt the organization really embraced who you were and didnt expect you to be a cookie cutter, she said.
As Miss TI, she will receive $1,150 for graduate school. If she wins Miss New York, she can receive about $10,000, which she thinks will help her pay off graduate school and police academy loans.
To book Miss McCary, call Susan Pilon, Miss Thousand Islands executive director and producer, at 782-3992.