Teen beauty queen is second celiac to take home crown this month.
A few months ago, we introduced you to Kayla Lafi, an ambitious 16-year-old who organized and hosted the “Catwalk for Celiac” fundraiser for NFCA. Despite having celiac, Kayla is a shining star in the pageant circuit. Earlier this month, she was named Miss New Jersey Teen 2011!
Along with the crown, Kayla won a $500 scholarship and a modeling and talent contract. She also took home the Volunteer Service Award. This November, she'll compete for the national title of Miss American Teen 2011-2012, the next step in the American Coed Pageant System.
While the win was an exciting surprise, Kayla also was thrilled to learn that a fellow competitor had just been diagnosed with celiac. “We had so much to talk about!” Kayla said.
That was the second celiac encounter Kayla had this summer. In July, she competed in the Junior Miss International Finals in Nashville, TN, where she took home awards for International Actress 2011, International Spokesmodel 2011 and Photo Shoot Award 2011. At the pageant Welcome Banquet, Kayla sat with a young girl from Washington state who also had celiac disease.
On the road, there was no shortage of gluten-free options, either. In Nashville, Kayla stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, where each restaurant in the hotel had a gluten-free menu. Back in New Jersey, Kayla ordered a gluten-free pizza from a pizzeria near her hotel. “It was amazing!” she confirmed.
August proved to be a stellar month for celiacs on the pageant scene. Shannon Ford, also known as Mrs. Florida 2011, won the Miss United States 2011 competition on Aug. 4. Diagnosed with celiac disease 2 years ago, Shannon is now promoting her platform “1 in 133: Raising Awareness for Celiac Disease” at appearances and events nationwide.
Congratulations, Kayla and Shannon!