First as Mrs. Central Arkansas International 2005 and then as Mrs. Arkansas International 2005, Laine Berry has traveled the state espousing her platform, "Taking Wellness to Heart." If she should win the Mrs. America International 2005 title on Saturday, she will be able to take her program across the nation, possibly the world.
"That's what led me to enter this pageant," said Berry during a recent interview at her home in Conway. "I thought I was pretty much through with pageants (she held the title of Mrs. Arkansas America 2003) and then when I learned the platform of the winner of this pageant becomes the platform for the entire pageant system for a year, that really sparked my interest."
Berry, 32, leaves today for Chicago, where she will compete against 50 other women from the United States and foreign countries at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. Competition begins on Thursday with personal interviews. Preliminary competition begins Friday and the finals will be held Saturday.
According to Bernee Thurow of Little Rock, state pageant director, contestants compete in three categories - interview, which counts for 50 percent of the judges' score; physical fitness, which counts for 25 percent; and evening gown, which counts for the final 25 percent.
"Contestants wear aerobic wear for the physical fitness competition and there is no swimsuit competition in our pageant," Thurow explained.
The Mrs. Arkansas International pageant is an official preliminary of the Mrs. International Pageant, a system established in 1985 that recognizes the virtues of professional, family and community involvement among married women. The husbands will share in the experience as well, by escorting their wives during the evening gown presentation and having the honor of presenting the official Mrs. International crown to his winning wife.
Berry's husband, Kevin, will accompany her to the pageant, as will her parents, the Rev. David and Cheryl Hatfield of Conway, and his parents, Jerry and Lavonne Berry of Conway. Her sister, Leigh Middleton of Conway, will not be able to attend.
Berry, who is finance manager at Outdoor Finance in Conway, has established her platform as a 501c3 program. She developed the program shortly after her mother was diagnosed with heart disease in 2000. Mrs. Hatfield eventually underwent heart surgery for a double bypass. It was after Mrs. Hatfield was released from the hospital that Berry contacted the American Heart Association to find out how she could get involved. For the past five years, Berry has served as the state spokesman for the heart association.
"Taking Wellness to Heart" focuses on women, educating them about heart disease. For more information, visit the Web site www.takingwellnesstoheart.org.
"I'm thrilled," Berry said when asked how she felt to be representing Arkansas in the upcoming pageant. To prepare for the pageant, Berry has been doing cardiovascular exercises and a "little light-weight" training. She also has participated in mock interviews.
While in Chicago, Berry will join the other contestants as special guests at the Chicago Zoo, where they will do some sightseeing and sign autographs, and at the St. Vincent de Paul Center Children's Hospital, where they will spend time with the children and sign more autographs.
For more information on the Mrs. Arkansas International pageant, visit the Web site www.arkansaspageant.com.
(Staff writer Carol Rolf may be reached at 505-1257 or e-mail email@example.com.)
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