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Grateful, gracious and giving back

LIHUE— When Janessa Grady won the title of Miss Aloha Kauai, she was proud to be given the chance to help Hawaii’s people.

“It was an amazing experience and I still think about it to this day,” the Kauai High School graduate said. “I was crying. My mom was crying. It was just an unbelievable feeling. I was in shock, to be honest.”

Grady is one of the three young women who will represent Kauai at the Miss Hawaii Pageant on Oahu. Grady will join Miss Paradise Kauai, Sarah Manuel, and Ms. Garden Isle, Nicholette Levinthol, at the Hawaii Convention Center on May 30.

As the first Miss Aloha Kauai, Grady has been promoting her platform of “stay fit, don’t quit” by visiting schools and speaking to children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet.

“They’d come up to you and hug you and they see this shiny thing on your head and how much it, surprisingly, makes a difference,” Grady said. “It’s a really big honor and I’m grateful to have this title.”

She has been involved in community service events on Oahu, where she lives. These include Pinwheels for Prevention at the state Capitol for Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Diabetes Association 2015 Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes event and the Hawaii Pacific Women’s 10k Race.

“It’s great to be involved with some of the things that happen up there,” she said.

On a visit to Kauai, Grady spoke with classes at her high school about her journey from high school to college and about pageantry.

“I only hope I can do a whole lot more with my platform,” Grady said.

She likes the efforts of first lady Michelle Obama.

“I kind of have similar views on what she’s trying to promote, healthy eating, putting healthier foods in school cafeterias,” she said. “I’d like to take it to that level as well.”

Grady graduated from Kauai High School in 2010. She majored in kinesiology and rehabilitation science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is working on her master’s degree.

The pageant winner enjoys going to the beach, shopping and baking, which she said is one of her stress relievers from school.

“So one of my bucket list items is to be on ‘Cupcake Wars,'” Grady said about the Food Network show.

Grady believes in the dreams of all young girls who wish to hold a crown one day.

She ran for pageants three times, didn’t win and almost gave up.

But she didn’t.

“Inside me, I told myself I wanted to do this and this is something that I’m going to set my mind to and I went out and I did it,” she said. “I tell anybody, you may not be the skinniest person or you may not be the most athletic but as long as you’re comfortable in your own skin, and you know your confidence is there, then you can do it.”

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