The Coon Rapids Fire Department hosted two special guests at Fire Station 1 one evening last week.
Miss Coon Rapids Emily Kallis invited Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh to spend an evening with her at the fire station to see how the fire department does its job and to take part in a ride-a-long.
Kallis got the idea from Theresa Leggate, a longtime volunteer with the Miss Coon Rapids Scholarship Pageant and its new director.
According to Leggate, she had been on a ride-a-long with the fire department in the past year.
“It was a really great experience and a great time,” Leggate said.
Kallis was excited to be part of the ride-a-long, she said. “I think it will be a cool experience,” she said.
Kallis and Yeh became close friends at the 2013 Miss Minnesota Scholarship Pageant in June when they roomed together, she said.
They had dinner with the firefighters on duty at Fire Station 1 that evening and hoped to actually go out on a call with firefighters while at Fire Station 1.
But Fire Capt. Tim Gilsrud said there has been something of a “curse” when the fire department hosts ride-a-longs and there are no calls, he said.
“We hope to get some excitement,” Kallis said.
Both young women are preparing for national pageants.
As Miss Minnesota, Yeh, who is from Nisswa and recently completed her sophomore year at Ohio Northern University where she is pursuing a degree in clinical pharmacy, will be competing in the Miss America Scholarship Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., in September.
The national pageant, which has taken place at different times and locations in recent years, is returning to its longtime former home, Atlantic City, and month, September, for this year, according to Yeh.
Preparation for the pageant has been interspersed with many appearances around the state following her coronation as Miss Minnesota in June, Yeh said.
Her platform for both the Miss Minnesota and Miss America pageants is “My Voice for Philip,” which focuses on the early detection and awareness of autism, which affects 1.5 million people.
The inspiration for her platform is her 22-year-old brother, Phil, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of four, Yeh said.
For her talent, Yeh plays the violin – she has been a self-employed violin instructor since she was 13 years of age.
At the Miss Minnesota Pageant, Yeh performed Henryk Wieniawski’s “Scherzo Parantella” and plans to play the same piece of violin music at Miss America, she said.
Kallis meantime heads to Hoopeston, Ill., Aug. 25 to compete in the National Sweetheart Pageant Aug. 30, 31 and Sept. 1.
According to Kallis, the pageant is open to runners-up in state pageants and as third runner-up in the 2013 Miss Minnesota Pageant, she will represent Minnesota at the National Sweetheart Pageant.
There will be contestants from 44 states at the pageant, which has the same format at the Miss America and Miss Minnesota pageants – talent, personal interview and platform, evening gown and swimsuit, Kallis said.
Kallis’ talent for the Miss Minnesota Pageant was dance and her platform focused on positive youth development.
They won’t change for the National Sweetheart Pageant, Kallis said.
“I am honored to be representing Minnesota and this will be a great experience,” she said.
A graduate of Frazee High School, Kallis is a senior at Bethel University, where she is majoring in organizational communications.
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