Pi Kappa Phi holds ‘Miss Push America’ pageant to benefit people with disabilities

Pi Kappa Phi holds 'Miss Push America' pageant to benefit people with disabilitiesAlayni Guidry has been named the 2014 Northwestern State University Miss Push America. Guidry and eight other contestants competed for the title. The annual pageant, held October 21, is an outreach project of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, which aims to raise awareness on behalf of people with disabilities.

Prior to the competition, contestants were encouraged to raise funds and help educate NSU students about the fraternity’s philanthropy. Since 1977, Push America, now known as The Ability Experience, has raised millions of dollars for and positively impacted the lives of thousands of people with disabilities.

Tuesday’s contestants included freshman Madeline Brantley of Pineville, junior Haley Brister of Hornbeck, junior Courtney Grace of New Orleans, junior Leanny Muñoz of Abbeville, sophomore Haley Neal of Houma, junior Marie Robichaux of Bossier City, sophomore Jessica Rousset of Harvey, Kasey Scott of Bossier City,  and Guidry, who is a senior from Lafayette.

The overall winner was selected based on judges’ scoring from interviews, fitness/sportswear, evening gown, and an on-stage question. A non-scoring talent portion included singing and hoola hoop performances by contestants.

Guidry, a Health & Exercise Science major, is president of the Student Activities Board and a member of Phi Mu Fraternity. She will serve as an ambassador for Push America on the NSU campus during the 2014-2015 school year, playing an important role in motivating students to get involved in awareness and service projects. “I plan to change many perspectives by making personal connection with individuals with disabilities and allow everyone else to realize that ‘there is no greater disability than the inability to see a person as more,’” Guidry said. She is planning to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees before beginning a career in higher education. Ultimately, she hopes to serve as a Dean of Students or Vice President of Student Affairs at a university.

Neal was named first runner-up and Robichaux was chosen as 2nd runner-up in the competition.

More than $2,300 was raised through the pageant and will support Push America’s programs to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and continue providing service opportunities for members of Pi Kappa Phi nationwide.

Recognizing that service is about more than just fundraising dollars, members of the Beta Omicron Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi reach out to people of all ages and abilities through the philanthopy’s educational, awareness and volunteer programs. Most recently, members camped out on a scaffold for 48 hours to raise money and awareness. Other members have participated in Gear Up Florida, a bicycle trek from Tampa to Tallahassee, Florida. Along the route, riders participate in service projects and raising awareness about disabilities.

Push America committee chairman Sean Austin and friends of the fraternity Breanna Collier and Corrine Nagim organized the pageant, hoping to continue to change the way Northwestern State views people with disabilities and fraternities. Austin said their work is only beginning, as the Fraternity will be working to introduce the community to Push America’s new name, The Ability Experience. “We’re working to create a community, one relationship at a time, where the abilities of all people are recognized and valued.”

To view photos from the event (courtesy: Beta Omicron chapter alumnus Chris Reich), click here: https://www.facebook.com/chrisreichphotography/media_set?set=a.10100352689968891.62000191&type=3

You can learn more about how to get involved with The Ability Experience by clicking here: http://www.theabilityexperience.org

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