LEWISTOWN - One Lewistown teen has been enjoying the ride of her life through the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageant series.
Abby Traxler, 13, of Lewistown, was the first runner-up at the Pennsylvania Outstanding Teen Pageant held June 13 in Pittsburgh. Traxler competed locally in February at the Miss Central Pennsylvania Pageant, where she was awarded the title of Miss Freedom Forge's Outstanding Teen.
"It was such an honor to be crowned this high at the age of 13," Traxler said. "Looking forward to the state pageant, all I could do was practice and prepare the best I could."
Submitted photo: ?Abby Traxler, right, stands with Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen Page Mackenzie Weinstein. Traxler won first runner-up in the pageant, which was held from June 11 to 14.
Submitted photo: Lewistown resident Abby Traxler, on the far right, stands with the other 10 girls who had just been selected to the top 11 of the Miss Pennsylvania Teen Pageant on June 13.
At the state pageant, Traxler competed in the same categories as the local pageant, including interview, talent, evening wear and on-stage questions, and lifestyles and fitness in sportswear. She competed against 26 other girls, but that number dwindled throughout the various stages of the event. Traxler said she was competing against girls in ages that ranged up from 13 to 16 years of age.
"I was the youngest contestant," she said. "My goal going into the event was to simply make the top 11, and take the other experiences home with me for next year."
Traxler said it was not for lack of wanting to win that she only had her original sights set on the top 11, but it was the idea that she would not want to compete in the national pageant at such a young age.
"You can only compete at the national level once in both the teen and miss pageants," Traxler explained. "I felt as if there were more girls with more life experiences than me, and that I need more experience to really excel in this pageant series."
Her mom, Karla Traxler, said the whole pageant was a great experience and Abby has nothing to be ashamed of regarding where she placed in the competition.
"The winner of the Miss Teen pageant (Page Mackenzie Weinstein) was a contestant who had competed four times previously," Karla said. "Only twice did she make it into the top 11."
Abby said that throughout each stage of the competition the only area in which she felt she performed poorly was the interview portion.
"I don't know why I felt that it didn't go well," Abby said. "However John (Metzger) did tell me something after the pageant was over. He said 'If you did this good with a bad interview, imagine what could happen with a good one.' That made me feel better."
Abby and her mom both said that as it came down to the final two contestants to be called, it was like time slowed down.
"John told me that would probably happen," Karla said. "Abby went there to place top 11, and she far exceeded that goal."
Abby said she could not believe she was called first runner-up and felt as if all of her hard work over the last year had paid off.
She now has the opportunity to travel to the national Miss America Outstanding Teen competition later this month, although she will not compete at the event. Abby said instead she will participate in a camp with teens from across the country in activities that can help their pageant careers as well as boost confidence.
"While there I will have front row seats ... to learn about it," Abby said. "Through the camp program I will get to participate in a photo shoot, work on interview skills, learn new make-up techniques, and get help to advance my platform."
Abby's platform is called 'Project A.B.B.Y: Anti-bullying for Better Youth.' She said this platform is something that interests her and she would like to find a way to stop the bullying in schools.
"Most bullying happens during youth," Traxler said. "If you enforce anti-bullying at a young age, then they are more likely to carry it with them through adulthood."
One of the things that Abby would like to see accomplished with her platform is the installation of a buddy bench at one of the schools in the Mifflin County School District. A buddy bench is a bench that is placed in a park or school yard. When someone sits at the bench another person is supposed to come and talk to them. Her thought is to put in in the intermediate school, because she believes they are old enough to understand it and still young enough to make it work.
John Metzger, who runs the Miss Central Pennsylvania Pageant, said it feels good to have a Lewistown resident do well at both the local and state pageant. He said the last time that happened was in 1998. Metzger also said the opportunity that Abby has been given is an honor.
"The girls from Pennsylvania are chosen on their potential to learn something, and while it is expensive, the experience is worth it," Metzger said. "Several girls have won the state title after participating in this pageant camp."
Karla said to help offset some of the costs, Abby does have one sponsor: Colette Kauffman, an Independent 31 consultant.
Abby said while she is not sure what lies in store for her at next year's Miss Central Pennsylvania Pageant, she does know that she will continue to compete in pageants.
"I find pageants fun and exciting. I don't want to stop doing them," she said. "The money that I win is going into a bank account, which will help pay for college."
Metzger said as a local pageant winner, Abby is available for appearances and area businesses can contact him at 248-5576.
Abby and her mom will travel and experience the national pageant from July 27 to Aug. 3 in Orlando, Florida.