Kayla Martell has been preparing for this moment for as long as she can remember.
The current Miss Delaware is in Las Vegas, competing in the 2010 Miss America Pageant, an opportunity she calls “a dream come true.
“I’ve worked so hard to be here, and to finally be here and standing on that stage is kind of like living out some sort of movie or some sort of dream,” Martell said. “I have to pinch myself every once in awhile.”
The Milford native’s journey to the Miss America contest has become an international story. The 22-year-old is bald because of a condition called alopecia areata, and she wears a wig during competition.
Martell says her competitors have been very supportive.
“They all know about my alopecia, there are no secrets here,” she said. “It’s kind of like a sisterhood here, kind of like a sorority. There’s no animosity and everyone’s been really great and kind about it.”
Martell has been in Las Vegas for about a week, competing in the preliminary events. So far she’s had a private interview with the judges, and taken part in the swimsuit, lifestyle and fitness, evening gown, and talent contests.
Thursday night Martell is scheduled to have her on-stage interview, which takes place in front of a live audience. That’s when she’ll be able to elaborate on her platform: alopecia.
She says she won’t know how well she’s stacking up against the other 52 contestants until Saturday night (9 p.m. on ABC) when the 15 finalists are announced.
But Martell says winning is not the important thing. She’s just trying to make the most of every moment.
“Whether I walk away as Miss America or not,” she said, “this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’ll never get to live this out again.”
The Miss Delaware organization is still pushing for some last minute votes for Martell as she competes for the “Quality of Life Award”. Voting is done on the internet and the results will be announced on Saturday.