GRAND BLANC — Like many young girls, Rylie Dewley dreamed of becoming Miss America. On June 18, she reached a milestone in that journey when she was crowned Miss Michigan Outstanding Teen.
Dewley, a senior at Grand Blanc High School, won a $1,000 scholarship and the chance to compete in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant July 30 in Orlando, Florida.
“It was such as amazing moment,” Dewley, 17, said of the win. “It doesn’t even feel real. It’s something I’ve wanted for so long.”
Dewley has competed in pageants since she was 12 years old. She won the title of Miss Lake Erie Outstanding Teen when she was 13 years old, Miss Sunset Coast Outstanding Teen at 15 years old, and Miss Washtenaw County Outstanding Teen the following year.
The latter competition earned her a spot in this year’s state contest, which took place in Muskegon.
“It takes a lot of hard work,” Dewley said. “I put a lot of work into it … hard work and perseverance. You have to put the time in and be dedicated.”
Dewley said she practices her talent, baton twirling, almost daily; and, because fitness is part of the competition, she makes sure to go to the gym regularly.
An important element of the pageant circuit is that it provides Dewley with the chance to promote her platform and share her story of heart health to help educate others.
At 13 years old, Dewley was diagnosed with a leaky heart valve, which prevents her heart from efficiently pumping blood.
As a result, she started the Start Heart Smart program. Information on the program is available on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Ryliesheartsmart/, where Dewley posts weekly heart health tips.
She says she shares her story with others in schools and at special events.
After the Orlando competition, Dewley said she plans to continue to promote her platform and encourage other young girls to compete in pageants.
“It’s a great way to become more confident and make friends,” she said.