One-year-old Kora Sessions, of Killeen, recently got her birthday wish at the Miss Heart of the USA Pageant in Houston.
On her first birthday, Aug. 31, Kora swept her division and was crowned Texas Baby Heart of the USA. She received a large crown and sash for the over-all win in addition to her entry fee being paid for the national competition in November.
She also was awarded two trophies and an additional crown for raising $150 that will be used by another contestant who cannot afford to attend the national pageant. The entry fee for the national competition is $495.
“Kora also got her 3,000 bar to put on her sash,” said Mallory Sessions, Kora’s mother. “We are going to try to get the 10,000 bar before nationals (competition).”
Bar pins are awarded to contestants for the number of food items they collect for local food banks. Kora collected more than 3,000 items, along with cash donations, in only 30 days.
Kora’s food and cash donations were given to Operation Once in a Lifetime and the Cove Soup Kitchen. Donations to the Cove Soup Kitchen were collected from residents and vendors during a parking lot fundraiser on Aug. 24.
Kora also won the T-shirt decorating competition. Each contestant was given a T-shirt and had to transform it overnight with sparkles, ribbon and other mediums of her choice.
Kora took home top honors for the cutest heart-themed outfit worn during a phase of the competition.
“She got to attend the VIP pajama party where she got a huge Minnie Mouse, lots of toys and a gift bag,” Mallory Sessions said.
“If that was state, I can only imagine how nationals (competition) is going to be.”
The national Miss Heart of the USA Pageant will be Nov. 15-16 in Orlando.
About 60 contestants entered the state pageant, said Brittany Dale, pageant director for the West Texas region.
“This pageant was started by our national director, Sierra Nikowski, when she got a call from the local women’s shelter asking her to hold a pageant because the shelter was low on supplies,” Dale said. “Nikowski held the pageant and the calls for help continued to come.”
The pageant was started in Alabama in 2011. Pageants are now held in 11 states.
To date, pageant contestants have donated more than 3 million non-perishable food items to non-profit organizations, such as food banks, rescue missions and senior programs.