Name: Cassie Paradise
Formerly Miss Southern Tier 2015 (Miss New York 2015, Top 11, People’s Choice winner)
Currently Miss Richmond County 2016
Fundraising: Miss America for Kids
Why did you begin competing in pageants?: I began competing in pageants when the Miss New York pageant first came to the St. George Theatre in 2011; the year Kaitlin Monte was crowned Miss New York. I was volunteering as an usher and had watched the pageant, turned to my mom and said “I feel like this is something I really would enjoy doing, but I am just too shy”. If I competed that year I would have been a contestant in the teen competition, but my shyness held me back until I was 18.
My whole life dancing at Mrs. Rosemary’s Dance Studio was spent giving back to my community. Our dance studio did not believe in dance competitions, instead a group of us would go out to nursing homes, parades, hospitals, etc… entertaining the community with our talents. Mrs. Rosemary felt it was always best to give back to a community that has given you so much. When I turned 18 and decided to compete, I had researched everything the Miss America Organization stands for, I had realized that I would be making Mrs. Rosemary so proud by continuing everything she has taught me. Unfortunately Mrs. Rosemary passed in 2009, but I know I am making her legacy one to remember, and she would be so proud.
What do you hope to gain, other than a title?: Other than the countless friendships, and sister-like bonds that I have already formed and will continue to further cultivate, I hope that I can make a measurable difference in my community. I hope that one day we can realize that we all share the common need to be loved and respected for who we are.
Why is your platform unique? : My platform “Turn the Label into the Able” is unique because it focuses on empowering those with a disability, and encourages them to set a goal and then accomplish it. Just because they are a little bit different then us we should never limit their dreams. They just do things a little bit differently and that’s what makes them so special. With the right encouragement children, teens, and adults with disabilities can do anything they set their mind to, and I am proud to be the vessel to help them accomplish just that.
With Miss America in Atlantic City, have you attended or do you plan on attending the pageant?: For the past two years I have attended the pageant in Atlantic City. Being there live to watch Kira become the next Miss America is a feeling I will never forget. Being at the pageant is the best experience any pageant girl can dream for. The amount of people you meet, the Show Us Your Shoes Parade, the Miss America trade show, the list goes on and on. I think every pageant girl should get to experience it at some point in her pageant career, it is well worth it.
What has been your favorite appearance or service event as a titleholder?: Wow there has been so many, I feel that every single event, and appearance I attend is my favorite. It is way to hard to name just one. They all bring something to the table, and all will always hold a special memory in my heart.
What appearance or service event would you like to do most before the end of your reign? : I am the founder and current director of the Miss Shining Star 2016 pageant for young girls and teens with disabilities. My goal is to make this event entirely free for the parents of the contestants. I am so proud to be able to give every young girl the opportunity in the Staten Island community the chance to shine and live their dream, while being able to live one of mine. Every contestant will win the title of Miss Shining Star 2016, and every girl in each age category will win a special award specifically for them, so they feel that they have something to works toward and accomplish.
If you would like to become a sponsor of any aspect of the pageant please contact Cassie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Which is your favorite phase of competition?: My favorite phase of competition is swim suit. I love working out and challenging myself with a different workout plan every week. Growing up as a dancer, I have always lived a healthy lifestyle and I feel that swim suit is that one opportunity to channel your “inner Beyonce” and show off all of your hard work.
If you could add or remove one phase of competition, which would it be and how would you adjust the scoring percentages?: I personally would increase the value of the on stage question phase of competition. As titleholders we are out in our communities everyday, and if you are not able to publicly speak and formulate answers to questions at the top of your head, how could you be an effective titleholder if you can’t think under pressure. I feel that on stage question should be worth at least 20% of your score.
How do you prepare for pageant? : I just continue working out, prepping my talent as much as I can, and just keeping up with current events. To keep myself calm and focused I attend “hot yoga”. I feel it’s a great way to stay calm, focused and stretched at the same time. All you can do is focus on yourself and what you can control in that very moment, nothing else matters but you.
What do you plan to do with your experiences after you finish competing or age out of MAO?: I hope I can continue spreading all of the messages I have spread during any of my reigns. I know that everything MAO has taught me will prepare me for my future experiences as an Early Childhood, Special Education Teacher.
Why should you be Miss America?: I always strive to be the best me that I can be. I feel that as Miss America I would have the opportunity to of course spread the importance of my platform, and change the lives of of the children at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. If judges feel that I am the person they want for the job, then I will take that crown and run with it, if not I know I will always authentically be Cassie and that’s all one can ever strive to be.
What is your favorite mantra or quote?: My favorite quote/ mantra is
“Never give up on your dreams, because they will happen”
Some dreams may take longer to accomplish. I did not win a title the first year I competed and last season I placed 2nd runner up 5 times before a crown was placed on my head. I competed in the Miss Staten Island Organization twice and finally my dream was fulfilled on my third time trying for the title when I was crowned Miss Richmond County about three weeks ago. With each experience I learned the importance of persistence, hard work and determination. Everyone would ask me, “how do you keep going?” “Why do you keep competing, I would have gave up by now.” I simply replied “when you want something bad enough you never give up, you fight and fight until it happens, because eventually all the hard work will pay off”. If you quit you never ever know what could have been. Always take every opportunity, and live in every moment of every second because anything can happen!