Miss America preparation is so much more than aesthetics for Windsor’s Miss Colorado | MyWindsorNow.com

Miss America preparation is so much more than aesthetics for Windsor’s Miss Colorado

Allison Dyer Bluemel

When people think of Miss America, their heads often fill with images of beautiful women in swimsuits and a wide range of talents displayed on stage.

However, for Windsor resident and recently crowned Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson, the competition and the preparation that goes into it are about so much more.

"It's certainly meaningful and refreshing to see the emphasis and the visibility that the young women get as smart, educated, talented young women," said Gene Haffner, Johnson's stepfather.

The experience up to this point has been a whirlwind for Johnson, who only began competing in pageants two years ago during her time at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Up until the moment of crowning as Miss Colorado, she hadn't even won a pageant before.

"I'm a small town girl and I love it that way, " she laughed. "I've never really had the idea of what that life was like, so that's pretty cool."

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Once the shock and awe subsided after the state pageant in June, she began looking seriously at what it would take to garner the Miss America title in Atlantic City, N.J., come September.

Her days begin early with cross fit four days a week to keep in shape for the competition. From there, she meets with her director and they work on picking out the best wardrobe for her plethora of appearances and the stage to come.

Following shopping, Johnson has visited a salon in Arvada to get hair and makeup done before eating a nutritious meal and going to her scheduled appearances.

"At night, I usually go to a yoga class or a spin class — something active that I enjoy — and then catch up on current events," she said.

The last part of the day — reading the news, talking with politicians and downloading as many news apps on her phone as possible — prepares Johnson for her favorite part of the competition: the interview.

"I use my own opinions," she said. "I just use (those sources) to supplement what I've developed in my own thinking."

She enjoys the ability to flex her intelligence and critical thinking skills.

While viewers of the Miss America Pageant on Sept. 13 will see minutes of the contestants' interviews, in full they each take two hours and judges can ask any questions they want to evaluate the women.

But her preparedness for the interview section is only one of many factors Johnson, her family and fans believe will set her apart when she starts the preliminary competition the week before the televised pageant.

"Her resume is incredibly strong and her academics really put her at the top of the list," her mother, Julie Johnson Haffner, said.

In a competition that usually draws in 18- and 19- year old women still in college, Johnson stands out at the only registered nurse and one of the few contests that have finished their education.

"It shot her to the top," Johnson Haffner said.

Johnson hasn't squandered the opportunity to take her professional and educational experience to the competition and has established a firm platform based on health and nutrition.

Her platform centers on the Health Initiative PLUS, which stands for Prevent, Live, Uncover and Study.

As a lead member of her collegiate volleyball team and a valedictorian, she said she has the skills to demonstrate how to be great at something for a long time and has garnered credibility from her schooling.

"I think it sets me apart from other people, but I'm sure that whoever wins Miss America will be qualified," she said.

Additionally, Johnson took her experience as a nurse working with an Alzheimer's patient as inspiration for her talent, which will involve delivering a heart-felt monologue on what it means to excel at what you do and make a difference in the lives of those around you.

While the fame and the fantastic wardrobe are definite pluses, Johnson's main motivation for competition is using the pageants as a way to pay off her student loans — which she's managed to put $15,000 toward — and making a difference in the lives of those around her.

It's amazing, Haffner said, to watch boys and girls line up to get autographs from his stepdaughter.

"I really don't know how to describe the feeling of seeing 40 or 50 young girls and boys standing in line wanting an autograph or a photo with her," he said. "(I can see her) setting an example for young people that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible."

Even if she ends up not taking home the crown, Johnson won't feel disappointed. Instead, filled with the gratefulness she has carried with her since the beginning, she plans to return to the nursing field in some capacity.

However, the family has gotten overwhelming support hoping that she will carry on her responsibilities as a role model.

"Everyone is hoping she'll be crowned as Miss America," Haffner said.

Fans’ role in the Miss America Pageant:

This year’s Miss America contestants will compete in the preliminary competition the week before the 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time Sept. 13 ABC broadcast where 14 semi-finalists will be selected to compete on air by judges.

However, fans can go to http://www.missamerica.org/vote to chose their favorite contestant before Sept. 10. The winner of that vote will be added to the semifinalist pool to compete for the crown.

Your attention please

Windsor’s Kelly Johnson, who was named Miss Colorado and is slated to compete for the title of Miss America, downplayed the importance of being chosen in the Top 5 by a website that predicts the finish.

Regardless, the folks over at pageantsnews.com see something special in Johnson and picked her to finish in the top five at the least. Click here to see for yourself.