Many area residents are aware of the competitions and titles Christina Stratton has received in her young life, including Miss Missouri High School, Miss Missouri Teen USA and most recently Miss Kansas City Outstanding Teen.
One competition she has been a part of for several years is her work to help eradicate childhood cancer.
“I see the pageants as a platform to help raise awareness of childhood cancer,” Stratton said. “My younger cousin Micah battled cancer for five years and he passed away last year at the age of 10.
“The work that I have been doing is a family commitment,” Stratton said. “The time and money that it takes for a family who has a child who is battling cancer can be emotionally exhausting for everyone and so I hope through my efforts I can bring joy and some relief to the families and the patients.”
As Miss Kansas City Outstanding Teen, Stratton said she will serve as an Ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network, which is the official platform of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.
“The Miss Kansas City Outstanding Teen is a little sister to the Miss America Pageant,” Stratton said. “The Miss America organization has partnered with 170 hospitals across the country, which is part of the Children’s Miracle Network.
“I will work with the KU Medical Center and Children’s Mercy in Kansas City as well as Ronald McDonald Houses across the state to help patients and their families,” Stratton added. “Last year I hosted an event, Dancers vs. Cancer, where we raised over $5,000 for a family in Kansas City who had a child battling pediatric cancer.”
In the last year, Stratton through her efforts has raised more than $80,000 for charity and received the 2015 Volunteer of the Year at the Center for Human Services in Sedalia.
“I started an organization two years ago called Traveling Tutus,” Stratton said. “I go to hospitals and give the patients tutus and wands and we dance.
“It’s a way to bring them some joy and relief to the patients and their families,” Stratton said. “I’ve gone across Missouri and my family and I went to Louisiana and New York on visits as well.”
Stratton said she makes all of the tutus herself with the help of her family and the work has become a group effort.
“It was really funny because when we went to Louisiana we had to rent a bigger car because we had so many tutus with us,” Stratton said. “Dance is what I love to do; it is a time when I can develop myself and my passion.”
Stratton will use her dance talent when she competes in the Miss Missouri Pageant at the Missouri Military Academy in Mexico in June.
“The pageants are an avenue to persue and accomplish my dreams,’ Stratton said. “I really see them as a stepping stone to other venues.”
One of those venues is her desire to attend Columbia University in New York where she hopes to study childhood psychology.
“I want to make a difference in the lives of children,” Stratton said. “So many young people have such a negative view because they are bullied or face eating disorders, or mental illness.
“I want them to understand that with intervention and counseling these conditions can be treated. They don’t have to ruin their lives.”
Through the pageants, Stratton received scholarships in excess of $52,000 but there are other benefits to the competition Stratton has found.
“I recently found out I was in the 98 percentile in the nation on both my ACT and SAT scores,” Stratton said. “I credit the pageants for much of that because I have to be a quick thinker and problem solver in the competitions.
“My mom tells me all that time that I have become really good at multi-tasking,” she added. “I volunteer at one to two events each week so I have learned how to manage my time really well.”
Stratton said time is something she has been thinking about a great deal in the past week after the death of one of her close friends, Zach Parsons.
“Zach encouraged me in so many ways, especially in my pageants,” Stratton said. “We always used to say ‘iron sharpens iron’ and we shared a bond through some of our accomplishments.
“When he died I realized how short life really is and how much I want to accomplish to help others.”
Individuals wishing to contribute to Traveling Tutus may do so by visiting christinastratton.com.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484