The lakecity’s Cindy Duerst is one of 44 contestants from across the province competing this week for the title of Miss BC 2011.
Duerst, 22, says she decided to run for Miss BC because she always enjoyed watching the Miss USA and Miss Canada pageants on television, and when she checked out the Miss BC web site she liked the charity the pageant supports and thought she would enjoy the challenge.
“There are about 25 or 30 of us, most from the Lower Mainland,” Duerst says.
The Miss BC program and Courage Productions Inc. charity of choice is Cops for Cancer, which is a partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society and police officers, RCMP and emergency services personnel from across British Columbia.
Each fall, Canadian law enforcement personnel cycle a pre-designated route in their region, raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research and programs that support kids with cancer, such as Camp Goodtimes.
In 2010, the contestants for Miss BC raised more than $33,000 for Cops for Cancer.
For her part leading up to the pageant Duerst has been selling tickets on a Canucks jersey to raise funds for Cops for Cancer.
During pageant all of the contestants will participate in a large-scale group fundraiser for the Cops for Cancer charity.
The Miss BC pageant takes place at the Langley Fine Arts School in Fort Langley July 1 to 3.
During the event the contestants will receive training in various genres to face the panel of judges, receive crucial life-skills training pertinent to young women, attend rehearsals for the grand finale showcase, and participate in a large-scale group fundraiser for Cops for Cancer.
There is no height or weight requirement for Miss BC contestants. During the competition all contestants receive professional training in modelling, interview skills, manners, etiquette and professional interaction skills; self-defence; and choreography for the grand entry grand finale showcase.
Contestants are evaluated on personal expression in sports wear and evening gown of their choosing, private interview with a judging pane, and the public on stage interview in the final showcase.
Duerst says she also chose the Miss BC pageant because the winners can decide how they will use their title during their reign.
“My goal is to bring awareness to the poverty of children in Canada and around the world,” Duerst says.
She says she spent two months travelling this winter in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras to experience the language and culture and realized that almost everywhere she went people were poor, particularly in Nicaragua where there are few tourist dollars flowing into the country.
Duerst was born and raised in Williams Lake and graduated from Columneetza secondary in 2007. She studied sciences for a year at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake then switched career direction.
“I decided university wasn’t for me and became a hair dresser,” Duerst says.
She headed for Vancouver where she earned her certificate with the Blanche McDonald (BMC) hairdressing school, worked for a short while in Vancouver, then came home to Williams Lake where she works for Lee Moffatt at Zone 4.
Growing up Duerst participated in gymnastics in elementary school, and played soccer and took jazz dance classes with Maureen Saunders School of Dance in her teens.
She has also skied since age three, started snowboarding at 16, enjoys horseback riding, and works out several days a week at Concrete Fitness.
She lives with her mom Maggie Duerst, who manages Chilcotin Estates, and has an older brother Steven who lives on his own in Williams Lake.
“I’d like to thank my sponsors Darrin Getz of San Jose Logging and the Williams Lake Log Haulers Association,” Duerst says.
She also extends thanks to her longtime boyfriend Mike Schreurs for his great support.
Duerst says the registration fee for the contest is $750 and selection of candidates is based on filling out an application form about yourself and what you would do with the title if you won.
The application is then followed up with a personal telephone interview.
In addition to the Miss BC Crown she says there are regional titles, Miss Congeniality, and a Miss Charity title for the candidate who raises the most money for Cops for Cancer.
According to the pageant web site Miss BC title holders are a voice for their community and province; role models for young people; recognized for their talents and accomplishments; attend various community events; believe in themselves and in the difference that youth can make; and represent charities across British Columbia.
The winner of the Miss BC contest is eligible to run for Miss Canada the year after her reign as Miss BC ends, Duerst says.