Kelsey Swanson was crowned Miss Rhode Island 2017 this past week. The win comes after Kelsey placed 1st runner-up for the last two years. To say this is a well deserved win is an understatement.
(Kelsey’s Crowning Moment / Photo Credit: PageantUpdate)
Kelsey has an amazing story. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As a fellow cancer survivor, I understand the fear that comes with it. However, despite the cancer, she continued with her studies and competing! She had to have surgery and a long recovery as a result. Nevertheless, she persisted and won her state title on her third try.
“Winning was the best feeling in the world, after all the hard work I’ve put in and all I’ve been through,” Kelsey told PageantNews. “I tried three times—and finally made it. It wasn’t easy.”
(Kelsey and her court / Photo Credit: PageantUpdate)
Kelsey experienced what is known as the “runner-up curse”. This is a term is pageantry used to describe a phenomena where a very qualified contestant competes for multiple years but is only a runner-up, never winning the crown. I too have experienced this. I have found that I often place third runner-up at state and national competitions. At her first try in 2015, she placed first runner-up to Anea Garcia. Garcia went on to place second runner-up at Miss USA. In 2016 Kelsey returned to place first runner-up to Theresa Agonia, a competitor since 2008.
(Anea Garcia and her court. Kelsey (pink gown) / Photo Credit: PageantUpdate)
(Theresa Agonia and her court. Kelsey (4th from the left) / Photo Credit: PageantUpdate)
I am beyond excited for Kelsey. She was beautiful throughout the entire competition. She was the definition of grace, elegance, and poise. I admire her courage for continuing to compete despite battling cancer. I already have her in my Top 16 for Miss USA.