BEMUS POINT - Bemus Point's Kelly Inman has spent her life facing challenges such as being a mother and acting as a positive role model as a cheerleading coach. But now she must face her greatest challenge yet: winning a pageant.
Inman has been selected as a competitor in this year's Mrs. New York America pageant. During the two-day event, Inman will participate in an opening number dance routine, an interview session that amounts to 50 percent of the scoring process, photo and video shoots, and the pageant, which will require her to wear a one-piece bathing suit and answer a question while wearing an evening gown.
To help her on her journey, Inman has enlisted the help of a friend, Nicole Widdowson, of Pittsburgh, to act as a pageant coach. She is also reading books on pageants to help prepare. If Inman wins the state competition, she will move onto the Mrs. America pageant held in August.
Kelly Inman, a competitor in the Mrs. New York America pageant, is pictured with Bryan Dahlstrom, mayor of Bemus Point.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
Inman, who has never before participated in a pageant, decided to get involved because her sister-in-law, Melissa Daciek, competed in the Mrs. New Jersey pageant to earn a runner-up position.
"Up until then I hadn't realized that they held pageants for married women," Inman said. "I had grown up watching pageants, and after I watched Melissa thoroughly enjoy her time, I thought it might be a good fit for me. It's a second chance opportunity for me that I never anticipated - but one I'm so excited to do."
According to Inman, one of her goals is to win, but ultimately she hopes that the experience will challenge her, and take her out of her comfort zone.
"It's a chance to gain a little more confidence," Inman said. "Being a relatively new mom, most days I'm still in that mode where I wear my hair back in a pony-tail, jeans and comfortable shoes. So, this pageant is a chance for me to rediscover who I am as a woman, and where I see my life going from here."
As the first Mrs. New York representative of Bemus Point, Inman decided to approach Bryan Dahlstrom, mayor of Bemus Point, to garner support for her cause.
"I figured who better to gain support and find out where I can support Bemus Point best than by going to the mayor," Inman said.
"This is exciting, and pretty neat for our community to have a representative," Dahlstrom added. "We have (a population of) 360 people here, so we don't stand out a lot, or often anyhow. So, we're excited, proud, hopeful and we'll do whatever we can to help support her along the way."
The pageant is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27, at the RIT Inn and Conference Center, 5257 W. Henrietta Road in Henrietta. The event is open to the public. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children, RIT students and active military.
Those who cannot attend the event, but still wish to participate, can cast their vote for their favorite competitor in the Mrs. New York America "Fabulous Face Contest" on www.mrsnyamerica.com. The contestant with the most votes will automatically place as one of the top six semi-finalists, and there are 13 competitors total.
Votes are only counted if a donation of any amount is made. But, a portion of the proceeds benefit the Mothers of Preschoolers International organization as well as the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program. The contest ends on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Inman, a Pittsburgh native, relocated to Bemus Point to work as a hospitality manager and special events coordinator for the Hotel Lenhart, which her mother, Deborah, and stepfather, John Lenhart Johnston Jr., are the owners of. She currently resides in Bemus Point with her husband, Michael, the assistant manager of the Hotel Lenhart. In addition to her work at the hotel, Inman also serves as a member of the MOPS program, which will benefit from her participation in the pageant. She was a cheerleader herself, and was a cheerleading coach in Pittsburgh, which she anticipates getting back into, she said.
"It's definitely an activity in which I enjoy mentoring young women," Inman said. "I think that highschool age is a really critical time to act as a good influence and role model."