She’s representing for the seniors!
The first Black queen of an Arizona pageant is now using her platform to advocate for elder care, Ebony reports. 64-year-old Patricia Person was browsing the internet when she came across a headline looking for contestants for “Ms. Senior Arizona.” After researching and looking at the pageant’s eligibility requirements, she felt something telling her to enter. That feeling dramatically increased when she learned there had never been a Black woman to win, Person decided she would be the first.
“It became, for me, a journey to try to achieve this and win this crown. I thought it would be great to be the first African American to win,” she explained.
This past August, Person made that dream come true, beating 16 other contestants to become the first Black Ms. Senior Arizona in the competition’s 31-year-history. During the talent portion of the contest, Person even performed a dramatization honoring Pilot Bessie Coleman. Now, the pageant queen is using her platform to be an advocate for “dignity in elder care and the importance of health and wellness."
The former Soul Train dancer and certified yoga instructor is now working with the CAMEO Foundation, the pageant’s host, to amplify her eldercare message throughout the state. She is using events and showcases to create awareness while raising money for victims of domestic violence. She works as an activity coordinator at a senior assisted living facility in Fountain Hills, Arizona, working firsthand with the elders.
“My philosophy in life is living till you die. So I just want to remind people that when you are over 60 years old, you don’t just sit down and wait to die. I look at it as a time to do more...I always encourage people to do all the things that they want to do. I see this pageant as a way to inspire other people to get out there and do something else,” Person said.
A little over two years ago, Person retired from her 38-year career at Boeing to work in elder care, and got a chance to see for herself what occurs as people age. What she saw was heartbreaking and something she vowed to make a difference in, which she now gets to do through her pageant platform.
“The biggest complaint that I hear from them is that their kids don’t come see them, or they’re lonely. So personally, I visit as many as I can and bring them things or play games with them...So many of these men and women were very prominent. They were doctors and lawyers and teachers and professors and spokespeople. And now they’re at this point that they really don’t care about money, they don’t care about pain, they don’t care about anything, but they do not want to be sad and alone,” Person explained.
Her ultimate goal is to launch an initiative for seniors that mirrors the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters, to pair them with people who care and keep them connected. In the meanwhile, she’s running a catering business and preparing for her next pageant. She hopes that she can inspire other seniors to live a full and abundant life.
“I’m just very excited about the whole thing...I just want to really inspire people to take care of themselves. Do the small, simple things that will give you longevity in your life,” said Person.
Congratulations, Ms. Person! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of The Fountain Hills Times