by Nicole Rosselot
The first time’s a crown for Sagamore Hills teen Aly Kramer, who was named Miss Ohio Teen Volunteer in her pageant debut. The Miss Ohio Teen Volunteer pageant was held in September in Lima and Kramer said hearing her name called in front of family and friends was “so exciting and one of my top five memories.”
The Miss Ohio Teen Volunteer Organization is a service-oriented scholarship program focused on five principals: scholarship, education, responsibility, volunteerism and empowerment (S.E.R.V.E.). Contestants compete in the talent, evening gown, fitness/wellness and interview categories.
The winner receives educational scholarships and uses her platform as Miss Ohio Teen Volunteer to promote her S.E.R.V.E. initiative throughout the state. Kramer’s initiative is “You Go Girl, Girls Empower Girls,” a social media campaign that inspires young women.
“I like to talk to women about empowerment and how empowerment can come in different shapes and forms,” Kramer explained. “It’s not just about telling someone they look good, it can be about helping a girl out, by doing her makeup or other things. It is also about advocating for women in high-paying jobs.”
Kramer, a competitive dancer with Center Stage Dance Studio in Northfield, decided to give pageants a try after her talent caught the eye of pageant coach Renee Brown. “My mom is friends with [Brown] on Facebook, and she reached out,” Kramer said. “She said she knew a really good pageant program and thought I would be perfect for it.”
Kramer and Brown began preparing for the pageant last summer. They practiced mock interviews and worked on walking with confidence and poise for the evening gown and fitness/wellness competitions. Brown’s daughter, Grace, did Kramer’s hair and makeup for the pageant.
In addition, Kramer enlisted the help of her dance instructor, Alyssa Verdino of Center Stage Dance Studio. Kramer won the talent competition, performing a dance routine Verdino choreographed to “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. “I really like the song because my S.E.R.V.E. initiative is about empowering other girls and this is the empowerment song for women,” Kramer said.
As Miss Ohio Teen Volunteer, Kramer, a junior at Walsh Jesuit High School, is busy with appearances, interviews and volunteering. She recently sat down for an interview with state Sen. Kristina Roegner.
“We talked about how she got her position as senator and how she can empower other females to do that,” Kramer said. She plans to upload a video of the interview as part of her social media campaign.
Kramer is also partnering with Little Words Project, a female-owned bracelet company. Each beaded bracelet features an affirming message. Kramer will promote the company’s St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital bracelets, which earn the hospital 25% of the profits from sales. Kramer is also collaborating with Little Words Project on her own signature bracelet in support of her “You Go Girl” S.E.R.V.E. initiative.
Closer to home, Kramer volunteers with Rockin’ Frocks, a nonprofit boutique in Northfield that provides free and reduced cost dresses to girls in need. “It’s a really good program and I just love helping the girls there. … I think spending time with people and helping them is good for you and it is empowering,” Kramer said.
In the future, Kramer plans to lay a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C. and partner with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio. She is also reaching out to local Girl Scout troops, schools and businesses that she can meet with and talk to about her S.E.R.V.E. initiative.
Kramer will represent Ohio at the Miss Teen Volunteer America pageant March 6-9 in Jackson, Tennessee. Follow Kramer’s journey as Miss Ohio Teen Volunteer on Instagram at @missohteenvol and @always_aly_pageant_. ∞
Photo: Sagamore resident Aly Kramer won Miss Ohio Teen Volunteer this year. It was the first pageant she ever entered. Photo submitted.