When Priscilla Noel won the inaugural MissInkAmerica.com pageant in February, she wanted to change people's preconceived notions about people with body art.
The Atlantic City resident admits she didn't think she would win the pageant, but focused on putting on a good show. After she danced and showed off her figure in clubwear, lingerie and formal cocktail wear, the judges thought Noel would be the perfect role model for the new pageant.
Since February, Noel has used her crown to raise awareness about sickle cell anemia, a genetic blood disorder that led to the death of a family friend at the young age of 23.
Whenever possible, Noel educates children and adults about sickle cell in area community centers or at civic organization meetings. She stresses it can affect people of Mediterranean descent and Hispanics as much as it does the black community. The casino cocktail waitress also reaches out to children's groups to teach them dance.
Noel, who has tattoos of a butterfly on her back and a phoenix on her lower abdomen, will pass on her crown to a new MissInkAmerica.com when the group holds its second pageant at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 The Chelsea in Atlantic City.
"My No. 1 suggestion is that I think it's important to have a cause," Noel said. "We want to break the stigma to show that people with body art really do care. I am sad to give up the crown, but it's nice to bring someone else into the family."
Military families get vacation on LBI
Lexi Sinor had an eye-opening moment when her older sister, Aaren, went to Italy, and an earthquake disrupted communications.
Those hours in which the nervous family didn't know if Aaren was OK made Lexi think about what it must be like for families who have sons and daughters in the military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With the help of her parents, Randy and Robin, who work in the real estate industry, the Manahawkin resident launched Operation Jersey Shore Vacation, which provides returning and deployed soldiers with a free shore vacation on Long Beach Island.
Initially, Sinor, 18, had a difficult time convincing homeowners to lend their places for free, especially during the summer when many of the owners rely on rentals to make back mortgage money.
But now that the program is in full swing, Sinor said more homeowners are willing to help out. So far, OJSV has helped about nine service members and their families.
Sinor, a secondary-education major at Westminister College in Salt Lake City is making OJSV more of a family affair as her 14-year-old sister, Amie, will help from LBI , while Lexi does as much as she can from Utah.
"This month, we have a local hero who's coming back from Afghanistan who missed a year of his son's life," said Lexi, who said other businesses such as Harvey Cedars Shellfish Co. have helped the families by donating meals. "That's an amazing feeling to help them like that."
Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. To share your story, call Scott Cronick at 609-272-7017 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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