SEQUIM — Before the wildfire smoke came in, dignitaries took to the sky at Sequim Valley Airport to promote the upcoming Ms. Senior USA and Universe pageants.
Captain-Crystal Stout, Ms. Senior Washington United States, flew with Port Angeles’ Cherie Kidd, Ms. Senior USA 2019-2020, in her Dream Catcher hot air balloon Sept. 9.
The pair dressed in crowns, sashes, heels and sequin outfits to film a video with John Gussman of Double Click Productions.
“It was fantastic,” Kidd said of her first time in a balloon. “Quite the thrill.”
The women will travel to Las Vegas, Nev., for the Ms. Senior USA competition at The Orleans Hotel and Casino from Oct. 5-11.
Last year, Kidd was named Ms. Senior USA, and Stout, of Sequim, competes this year for the first time.
With COVID-19 provisions in place, competitors will be filmed on stage before a documentary crew and broadcast worldwide.
Stout said Kidd approached her to consider running and she felt it would be a good opportunity to share the Dream Catcher Program, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps vertically challenged individuals, seniors, veterans and others ride in a hot air balloon supported by a seat rather than a basket.
Stout attended the Global Beauty Awards and felt many of the participants were entrepreneurs interested in more than beauty with their charitable contributions.
“It changed my idea of beauty pageants,” she said. “I felt like this was my tribe.”
If selected as Ms. Senior USA, Stout would serve as an ambassador for the Shriners Hospital for Children and could provide balloon rides across the country.
“It’s taking kids straight from their wheelchairs or hospital beds to fly,” she said. “If I can do that, I want to be a part of it.”
Ms. Senior USA organizers say it celebrates the accomplishments of women 60 and older, and the event looks to empower others and women of all nations and cultures, strive for equality, to make real and meaningful changes, and more.
Stout made the cutoff by turning 60 during the competition, saying, “I’m so excited to see where this will lead us.”
Kidd, 74, said the Ms. Senior USA pageant and title inspires people of all ages.
“We’re out doing things we’ve never done,” she said.
“We’re breaking barriers. There are attorneys, doctors, concert pianists, opera singers (and more) doing this. Age is no longer a barrier.”
Along with the promotion for Ms. Senior USA, the women shot a video for Shriners International, International Women’s Day, and the Ms. Senior Universe pageant set for March 1-8, 2021, in New York City.
For more information about the Ms. Senior USA program, visit msseniorusa.org.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].