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Rachael Bazzell: Princess with a Purpose. Photo by JJ Kaplan

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

How do you discover your real purpose in life? I’m not talking about your job, your daily responsibilities, or even your long-term goals. I mean the real reason why you’re here at all — the very reason you exist. Many would say that there is a component of giving back to others that is our purpose for being. Many search all their lives for their purpose. Some find their purpose at a young age. One remarkable young woman has found her purpose and is using beauty pageants to spread the word for prevention education and healthy living as a way to strike out cancer.

Rachael Bazzell is the winner of Miss Duneland 2013 and will be competing for the coveted title of Miss Indiana 2013. Thirty-two contestants from around the state will gather in Zionsville June 19-22 for the competition which consists of public appearances, private interviews, swimsuit competition, evening gown competition, talent competition, and an on-stage question. The pageantry will include a parade downtown on June 22 and a “Meet and Greet” at Boone Village. That night, the new Miss Indiana will be crowned. She will tour and represent the state during the following year. She will also compete in the Miss America Pageant.

Rachael grew up in a small town outside Michigan City, graduated from Purdue University with an undergrad degree in Biology, and now is working toward her masters degree in Public Health. She is employed full time at the American Cancer Society at 96th Street and Zionsville Road. She relocated to Zionsville last August to be close to her employer, continue her education, and become a part of our close-knit community.
Rachael understands that becoming Miss Indiana is a full-time job. You have to work hard to represent the state every day. She is excited for this opportunity and plans to travel to all 92 counties in the state during her 365-day reign. This will be her final year to compete for Miss Indiana, as she has reached the age limit for this pageant.

The Miss Indiana Pageant reaches out to project a positive role model to younger girls.

Rachael Bazzel. Photo by JJ Kaplan

The contestants select a personal platform that they promote during their competition and subsequent reign. The Miss Indiana Pageant provided a platform for Rachael to share her message of cancer prevention after she witnessed her close friend struggling, and eventually succumbing, to this devastating disease. Seeing cancer first-hand ignited her passion to do everything possible to promote healthy habits to reduce the risk of cancer for others.

Rachael embodies a healthy lifestyle to thwart her risk of cancer. For example, Rachael doesn’t subject her skin to the damaging rays of the sun or tanning salons. Many pageant girls look extremely tan, and that sends a mixed message to young girls that you need to tan to be beautiful. Instead, Rachael uses self-tanning lotions to add a bit of glow color to her skin without compromising her platform of healthy living.
Taking care of yourself and being physically fit are both criteria for Rachael to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

By coincidence, I first witnessed Rachael’s dedication to fitness months ago at our local gym when she was doing complex twirling exercises on the basketball court. I have never seen anything so amazing. There she was, twirling, throwing, and spinning her baton. I was impressed with her precision timing and physical ability in mastering this difficult sport. I spoke with her about her twirling, and she explained that she has performed for several venues in Indianapolis, and even sets the baton on fire for exhibitions. She will be twirling for her talent in the Miss Indiana Pageant. If you can go and watch her, I’m sure that you will be enthralled and enjoy her show.

When it comes to swimsuit competition, Rachael educates me that it isn’t about who is the thinnest or has the most beautiful body. Rather, it is about which girl is most dedicated to being a role model and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

What are the judges looking for in the next Miss Indiana? The winner should be relatable for all types of people she will meet during her reign. She must elude a sense of warmth, approachability, and connection to all types of people. She will continue to promote her personal platform with passion and sincerity. She must be well spoken, as public appearances and

Rachael Bazzel. Photo by JJ Kaplan

“Meet and Greets” are important duties in representing the state. Tenacity is necessary to keep on going, even when the going gets tough. Finally, the judges look for confidence in the girls. Regardless of how nervous they really are on the inside, the girls must look composed and confident at all times. Each of the thirty-two contestants possesses all these qualities.

Personal appearances are part of the job of becoming Miss Indiana. Rachael had a fear of speaking, and struggled with a speech impediment and ability to read. Venturing out in appearances forced her to step outside her comfort zone and still portray confidence and dedication to her cause. Competing in pageants has helped Rachael overcome her fears and build up her confidence in spreading an awareness of cancer everywhere she goes.

Rachael’s pageant journey has been bittersweet, as she is now in her final competition as a four-year veteran. She now sees the value in mentoring younger girls. Years of friendship will be missed, but she cherishes the lessons she has learned about herself and about serving others.

Pageantry has provided Rachael the platform to promote her cause and make a difference with her message of cancer prevention and awareness. Though there are certain expenses involved in pageantry, she assures me that there are numerous scholarships available and ways to borrow items for competition. One should not let finances interfere with a young girl’s dream to compete and become a spokesperson in public.

Rachael Bazzel. Photo by JJ Kaplan

Where there is a will, there is a way – and a lot of people reach out to help you.

Becoming Miss Indiana will be a dream come true for Rachael Bazzell. She is looking forward to being a voice for cancer prevention and representing our state in the Miss America Pageant. She embodies the elements of a well-spoken, sincere, health-conscious, passionate young woman with a message to share. Though we may not all wear crowns like Rachael, we can relate to her in our purpose of helping others with our own messages to share.

The American Cancer Society has made great strides in educating the public, finding cures, and offering support. Volunteers are always needed for various duties, such as driving patients to doctor appointments, assisting with make-overs for patients, or even talking with patients on their phone hotline. Visit www.cancer.org or “Strike Out Cancer: Focusing On Prevention Education with Rachael Bazzell” on Facebook for more information about prevention and coping with cancer.

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