by Chelsea Pelsone
It has been a busy few months since I crowned Lewiston's newest peach queen back in September. Not only have my classes at Niagara University been challenging and time consuming, but my ongoing fundraising efforts for the Arthritis Foundation have kept me a busy young lady, as well.
Although I was sad to give up my title, I was also both excited and anxious to crown our newest queen, Maggie Dorian, so that she can be given the many opportunities that I was given during my reign.
My year was very busy, yet very rewarding. Whether I was serving food at the senior center, being Santa's helper at the Christmas Walk, or making appearances within the community, each duty of mine was enjoyable, and allowed me to fulfill the Kiwanis Club's motto of "Helping one child, one community at a time."
I was able to meet numerous leaders in our community and have established many great relationships with them. One leader in particular, State Assemblyman John Ceretto, gave me the opportunity to go on two separate interviews on LCTV to speak about arthritis awareness, which was my platform when I ran in this pageant last year.
Many people asked me why I chose to speak about arthritis. The reason is that almost three years ago, I was diagnosed with a severe autoimmune disease that deteriorates the joints, tissues and internal organs of the body. This disease is known as rheumatoid arthritis. When diagnosed, I had no idea that there were 100 different types of arthritis, and that 1.3 million people in America struggle along with me. I set out to help others struggling with the disease that made my young body its home.
Once crowned, I vowed that I was going to help the Arthritis Foundation. After winning, I fulfilled one of my duties as queen and held a basket auction fundraiser in Lewiston at Tin Pan Alley in July. The event honored the Arthritis Foundation and all the hard work its members put forth each and every day.
I was lucky and grateful to have a whole room full of baskets and more than 200 people from all over the community come and attend the event, wanting to support my cause and me. With the help and support of the community, I was able to raise more than $11,000. This was an amount I had never expected, and I would not have been able to do this without my family, friends and many supporters. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
The Arthritis Foundation has gone out of its way to help me, and it was such a heartwarming feeling knowing that members of my community were going out of their way to help me in my efforts to help the Arthritis Foundation. Not only was I able to raise money for much-needed research, but also I met young adults like me battling rheumatoid arthritis from all over the world (including Nevada, Hawaii, England, Missouri and many other places). I continued to fundraise by selling rheumatoid arthritis bracelets to patients from all over the world.
The experience I gained from being peach queen is something that I will take with me forever. The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston is a fine organization, and I cannot express how proud I am to have represented it during my reign. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Kiwanis members and look forward to continue working with them in the future.
To the Kiwanis Club, thank you for giving me memories and experiences that I will not forget. A special thanks to President Jerry Mosey and to my peach queen advisers: Jeanette Collesano, Jennifer Pauly and Kris Trunzo. I can't thank you enough for all the hard work and support you put forth during my special year as peach queen.