By Mike Pearson, News Staff
As Cassandra Gelzynsky is quickly finding out, winning the Miss World Canada pageant requires a lot more than what meets the eye.
Before making her way to Vancouver for this year’s event, the 19-year-old Stoney Creek resident must find the perfect evening gown, swimsuit and interview outfit. She’s also paying homage to her father’s family heritage with a Ukrainian costume. Between now and the month of May, Gelzynsky must come up with a choreographed dance routine, a dance costume, a fundraising video, a head shot photo for the event website and a short biography about herself.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School graduate must find sponsors to help her fundraise for Variety Children’s Charity, which helps special needs children. She’s also balancing her pageant preparations with two part-time jobs.
Just last year, Gelzynsky was watching the Miss America pageant on TV and was instantly drawn by the appeal of competition.
She researched Miss Teen Canada and Miss World Canada and applied to both events. Miss World Canada was the first to respond with an information package. After speaking to the event chairman and responding to a series of questions, Gelzynsky was selected for the pageant in July. She is one of 45 national contestants and the only competitor from the Hamilton area.
“I just like how it’s a beauty pageant and it’s for charity as well,” she said. “The slogan for the pageant is beauty with a purpose. And I also like helping children.”
Gelzynsky is now looking for sponsors and donors to contribute to her charitable cause. Her first event was held last fall at Boston Pizza. She’s now looking for businesses to donate gift cards which will be raffled off to support Variety Children’s Charity.
If she wins the Miss World Canada title, Gelzynsky will move on to represent Canada at the Miss World pageant.
During the pageant’s interview portion, Gelzynsky plans to speak about her extensive volunteer experience. She hopes to become a teacher. She’s volunteered to help children in the classroom, and has also coached soccer and cheerleading. Gelzynsky will be one of the youngest applicants in Vancouver. After just a few months of preparation, Gelzynsky knows the pageant is more than just a superficial beauty contest.
“I didn’t even know how much was involved in a beauty pageant before I signed up,” she said. “Like the slogan, it’s beauty with a purpose. Last year, the girls who were in it raised $65,000.”
While the evening gown and swimsuit portion comprise 20 per cent of contestant’s scores, entrants are also graded on the money they raise for charity, their performance during the interview and their interaction with the pageant director. The top 16 contestants move on to the final evening.
Following on the heels of a dinner fundraiser at Boston Pizza, Gelzynsky is planning another event on a to-be-announced date next month at Mother’s Pizza. The restaurant will donate 10 per cent of sales to Gelzynsky’s charity. Along with a raffle fundraiser, Gelzynsky plans to canvass for donations in the community.
“I have modelled before, but I’ve never been in a pageant before,” she said. “I’m pretty nervous and it’s a lot more work than I figured, but it’s really exciting.”
Gelzynsky got into modelling on a part-time basis last year. So far she’s done a photo shoot for Evoke Salon, modelled at the Toronto Art Fair, and performed promotional work for the Pickering Town Centre. For her pageant outfit choices, Gelzynsky plans to incorporate her own sense of style.
“I like sparkly and glittery and pretty colours,” she said.
Gelzynsky will spend a full week in Vancouver in May while competing in the two-day pageant. During the remaining days, she will participate in challenges along with other contestants.
Gelzynsky hopes the pageant will lead to more modelling opportunities and a chance to expand her volunteer experience. While in Vancouver, she plans to connect with some of the special needs youth from the Variety organization.
After graduating from Cardinal Newman in 2012, Gelzynsky has taken some time to volunteer and reflect upon her future career goals. She’s been accepted to Brock University and is also applying to McMaster University in the hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher.
Her goal leading up to the Miss World Canada pageant is to raise $10,000 for charity.
She’s already had to raise $2,800, with the help of sponsors, to pay for travel expenses.
“I’m really excited to meet new people,” said Gelzynsky. “I’m also really excited to do some visiting with the Variety Children’s Charity. I’ve worked in classrooms before but I’ve never worked (exclusively) with disabled kids.”
Gelzynsky hopes her mother and grandmother will be among the more than 3,000 spectators who are expected to be on hand for the pageant.
Gelzynsky will compete in the optional talent portion of the competition with a dance routine. She plans to train at a dance studio. A skilled dancer in her younger years, Gelzynsky made the transition to competitive cheerleading at age 12.
“I’m not really that nervous to perform in front of a crowd because I’ve done cheerleading before and I’ve done dance by myself,” she said.
The pageant includes a live interview component for the top-16 contestants. Questions will be selected randomly from a list.
While in Vancouver, Gelzynsky will learn how to walk and talk in the pageant. She’ll also compete in a series of challenges while learning how to perform like a supermodel and showcase her fundraising activities.
Along with the judges’ opening day scores, fans can also help put their favourite contestants into the final round of 16. The top-three online vote getters will move on to the final as People’s Choice selections. Voting begins Feb. 14 at www.missworldcanada.com and on Facebook.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Gelzynsky can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.