SPRINGVILLE—Following passions is no foreign concept to Airenah Hebdon, who spent years racing motocross. Now, the Springville resident is following a new passion: pageantry.
In her first attempt at a pageant, Hebdon saw great success, being named a state finalist for the National American Miss Pageant.
The National American Miss Pageant is a program for girls from ages 4-18, with a goal of growing confidence and teaching real world skills to contestants. The program is based on “the foundational principle of fostering positive self-image by enhancing natural beauty within,” according to its website.
Hebdon was nominated for the pageant after expressing interest and was invited to an open call and interview. Not hearing about the this pageant before, Hebdon decided to attend the open call after liking the message they were sending to girls.
“I’ve wanted to do pageants for the past couple of years, but wasn’t really sure where to get into it,” Hebdon said. “Once I went to the open call, I liked how there were all about confidence … I like how they were more about natural beauty and more about yourself and everything.”
After waiting days to hear whether she made the cut as a state finalist, Hebdon said she was excited to hear she was accepted and happy to finally be able to compete in something she has always wanted.
“I was really surprised because I didn’t think that being my first pageant, I would make it from such a small town,” Hebdon said.
“I am extremely proud and very unsure what to expect,” Hebdon’s mother Jessica said. “I just thought if she makes it, we will just wing it, check it out and see how it goes and when she actually found out she made it, I was extremely proud and think it’s a perfect time, being 16 to help out with her confidence and know that she is beautiful inside and out and you can do anything.”
Before entering the pageant, Hebdon had been racing motocross for the past three years for Western New York Motocross Association and Empire State MX. Over that time, she won multiple awards and with this transition into pageants, wants to show girls to be themselves no matter what.
“I hope to build up my self-confidence and show girls to be themselves … I feel that racing motocross is different and will show girls that different is OK,” Hebdon said.
Hebdon will be competing as a state finalist at the pageant Aug. 2-4 at the Rochester Riverside Hotel. If Hebdon wins the state competition, she will have the opportunity to represent New York at the national pageant in Anaheim, Calif.
As she prepares for the state competition, Hebdon said she is looking for sponsors to help with the costs of the pageant. There is no minimum and anyone who sponsors will be advertised in the program that will go statewide. Anyone interested can email Hebdon at firstname.lastname@example.org.