Recently, Ottawa teen Kelly Ouderkirk had some folks for dinner. Actually, she says, “We ended up hosting around 80 to 85 people. There was a DJ, dancing, a photo booth with silly props and a silent auction.” Wow.
Kelly is Miss Teenage Ottawa 2015 and on June 5, she held the event at the Knights of Columbus Hall. It was a fundraiser, she explains, to raise money for Free The Children, a charity supported by the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant. “We are each asked by the Miss Teenage Canada National Pageant to raise a minimum of $400, but I knew I wanted to go beyond that. At the end of the night I raised close to $2000!
“The dinner was my idea, and I planned it for about three months, mostly by myself, with some help from my mom, Leslie Ouderkirk. It took a lot of organization and planning.”
When you consider that Kelly is just 18, that’s quite a project and an accomplishment. The teen sought out sponsors to donate prizes for the silent auction and food for the dinner. The spaghetti, salad and buns were provided by Go Italian Restaurant, Rileys Bakery, Baxtrom’s Your Independent Grocer and Farm Boy.
Kelly also organized decorations, booked the hall, found a DJ and sold tickets. The cooks at the Knights of Columbus cooked the spaghetti and the whole event was quite a success, she says. The most memorable auction gift was a Doug Gilmour Captain of the Chicago Blackhawks NHL jersey, autographed by Doug Gilmour the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
As part of the event, this year’s Miss Teenage Ottawa gave a speech to talk about the charity and how it all got started. It was great practice, since she’ll be competing in August for the title of Miss Teenage Canada.
As a University of Ottawa student, she is studying biomedical sciences with the hopes of becoming a Naturopathic Doctor. But as a beauty queen, her platform is focused on raising awareness about teens suffering from mental illness.
So far she has participated in We Day, Mental Health Awareness Week, the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women, Eco Equitable’s first annual Metamorphosis Fashion Show, along with her own spaghetti dinner fundraiser. She’ll also be participating at the Barhaven Canada Day festivities, taking pictures with kids, and holding one of the flags in the flag ceremony.
“One of the things I love about being Miss Teenage Ottawa, and competing in pageants in general, is that it gives you the opportunity to be a leader and role model in your community,” Kelly explains. “It allows me to use my voice to talk about the things I am passionate about. For example, at my spaghetti dinner during my speech I talked about mental health and how it can affect people. I also use my title to raise money for charity. The things the title allows you to do are priceless, and truly [provide] the opportunity of a lifetime. The pageant has allowed my to develop my public speaking skills, and work on my community involvement … I am so excited for nationals I can hardly wait!”