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Stafford teen wins pageant, champions multiple sclerosis research.
Sophia Ramsel hopes to use her pageant success to keep multiple sclerosis in the spotlight. The 16-year-old has watched its effects on her best friend's mother.
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Date published: 4/23/2012
"It's been a huge, life-changing experience," she said. "It's opened up so many new possibilities."
Her father said he likes the fact that the pageants instill a public-service commitment in the teens.
"I see these girls really develop a sense of purpose. It's more than just looks," he said. "What it's about is doing more for the community than just being a pretty little girl up on a stage."
INSPIRED BY OTHERS
Sophia is in the pre-International Baccalaureate program at Mountain View High School, where she's a sophomore. She transferred there from Stafford High partway through the year, so she had to sit out her favorite sports: cross country, volleyball, track and basketball.
Pageants and speaking engagements have kept her plenty busy, she said. Her father chauffeurs her most places, sometimes with a gaggle of Sophia's siblings: Zoë, 13; Sullivan, 9; Julie, 7; Lucy, 5; and Jack, 2.
Sophia's parents are supportive of her efforts, but they insist that she cover her own pageant expenses. She scours consignment shops and pageant resales for reasonably priced dresses.
And rather than hire a coach like some competitors, she relies on advice from her friends and YouTube videos. Her father, who used to model, even taught her how to glide gracefully across the stage in an evening gown.
She also earns money doing part-time modeling, helping out at Petite Priss spa parties for little girls and selling dresses at Formal Envy in Fredericksburg.
"We just think she's wonderful. She's very mature for her age, and she's accepted a lot of responsibility," said Formal Envy co-owner Ann Moody. "She's the all-American girl. How can you not like her? That's the way I look at it."
Sophia said the competitions have increased her self-confidence and improved her public speaking skills. Plus, she's gotten to meet so many wonderful people she otherwise might never have encountered.
"My goal was to inspire people. In reality, they're inspiring me. It's amazing the people I've met," she said, adding that her best friend's mother has been one of the most inspiring.
"She has raised two beautiful daughters, and though she's lost a lot of mobility, continues to keep a smile on her face," she said. "It's amazing the things she does every day."
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428
Walk MS: Fredericksburg takes place Saturday at James Monroe High School, 2300 Washington Ave. in Fredericksburg. Check-in and registration for the event, which includes a Pooch Parade, starts at 8:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 10 a.m.
Walking routes--there are a 1-mile option and a 3-miler--wind through downtown Fredericksburg and end back at the school with food and entertainment.
For more information, visit IwalkforMS.org and click on the "Fredericksburg" button.