Natalie Davis was crowned Miss Mankato on Saturday. One of the weird parts of that, for me, is that I actually had a hand in crowning her. Anyone who knows me is having one of those "really?" moments right now. I'm not a beauty queen. I'm plain spoken, plain dressed, plain everything! So at first, it was quite strange for me to be there as a judge. But I have to say, I was surprised by what I learned.
Many of those girls were passionate about volunteerism and charity. It's not a requirement that the contestants be from Mankato or even go to school here, so some were new to the community. Yet, they had taken the time to set up appointments with various non-profits and other organizations so they could talk about their platforms and spread the word about the causes they were passionate about.
Certainly there were swimsuits and perfect hair-dos and high heels and pretty gowns. It's a pageant, and as many girls said, Ms. America is a business and they need a face on that business that can attract positive attention. But it was also about community and charity, and I was glad to see that.
Davis certainly had the whole package. She's beautiful, and she sang the highest operatic notes I've ever heard -- in person, at least. And she was also passionate about autism awareness. Having a brother with Asperger's instilled in her a drive to raise awareness about the disorder, and she has been doing a great job of it for years. Any organization in Mankato who receives a visit from Davis will certainly learn a lot.
Here's a bit more from Davis' website:
Natalie Davis is the current Miss Mankato. As an aspiring Miss Minnesota and Miss America (and of course, as a loving big sister), Natalie is dedicated to increasing awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders in order to help her brother Trevor and others diagnosed with the disorder survive and thrive in today's society.
Natalie also works on behalf of the Miss America national platform, Children's Miracle Network (CMN), which raises money for children's hospitals across the nation. Gillette Children's Hospital, Minnesota's CMN hospital, is an happy place for kids to be during what could be a very tough hospital stay.
In addition to doing volunteer work, Natalie enjoys emceeing events, acting, modeling, and singing as both a soloist and as a member of the St. Olaf College Chapel Choir. She is looking forward to her third year at St. Olaf College, where she is majoring in Chemistry with concentrations in Education and Biomedical Studies.