While some young women want the title of Miss Philadelphia for the fame and glory, West Chester University third-year student, and communication studies major, Andrea Helfrich is competing for this title in order to implement her passion for making a difference in the lives of others.Helfrich won the title of Miss Lehigh Valley in 2006, was our very own Miss WCU in 2007, and most recently became Miss Northeast Pennsylvania 2008. She is now competing for one of the most sought after titles in our area, Miss Philadelphia 2009.
Helfrich said, “I want this title because I have big ideas, and I have met a lot of supporters that would love to help. Me and the City of Philadelphia could create a non-profit that would be unstoppable. The title would give her the resources to open the doors, make her ideas known to make Philadelphia, and to make it a safer place.
She began her journey in this pageant by auditioning in early January with an interview and talent. Many young women try out, but only the top 16 move onto the pageant. Miss Philadelphia is a local scholarship pageant that is held every year. A young woman living within the five counties of Philadelphia is eligible to participate. The pageant awards a $10,000 scholarship to the winner. Helfrich’s talent is dance, something that she has been devoted to all of her life.
The platform, but most importantly her passion, that Helfrich has chosen to dedicate all of her time to is “The Fight Against Drunk Driving,” a topic that hits home for her. At the young age of 15, Helfrich was hit by a drunk driver. Luckily, she made it out of the accident with minor injuries, but one of her very best friends sitting only feet away from her is still living with the repercussions of that accident today.
While speaking about the people of Philadelphia Helfrich explained, “I want to reach out to them, explain what happened to me, so that it hits home. We can’t cure cancer and we can’t cut aids, but we can prevent people from drunk driving. I want to share my story. Even if I touch one person in an audience of 600 students, then I’ve done my job for that day.”
Helfrich has been preparing for this opportunity for a very long time. After the title of Miss Lehigh Valley 2006, she became our Miss WCU 2007, learning how to work her platform for an entire year. Since then she won Miss Northeast Pennsylvania 2008 and continues to improve her platform to this day.
Ever since she first started these scholarship pageants Helfrich has been a motivational speaker. High schools from all over the country contact her about speaking to their students about being hit by a drunk driver at the age of 15. Helfrich specifically enjoys speaking to dance teams and dance schools about her experience, giving her to combine her love of dance and the fight against drunk driving.
Not only has she created a UMADD group at West Chester University (University Mother’s Against Drunk Driving), but also she has held tribute sessions, multiple fundraisers and much more. She is currently in the process of organizing a non-profit organization. She has been working on this dream of hers in the hopes of her winning this pageant; her great ideas are already underway.
Helfrich’s big idea will once again involve her love for dance and designing dance costumes, through a contest for young ladies competing for the winning costume design. After being worn by a familiar star, the costume would be auctioned off, with all the proceeds going towards “The Fight Against Drunk Driving,” All of this would be done under Helfrich’s non-profit.
Helfrich said, “I’m developing an actual marketing plan, instead of a bunch of ideas. What I’ve learned is that I have to make this happen. I’ve thought about every side of my plan. I’ve learned from my years competing. I’ve learned from years volunteering and being a titleholder. I’m ready with an action plan. I’m listening to anyone and everyone that wants to help. Everyone can help to improve my ideas and help build my plan.”
“Three out of ten Americans will be affected by drunk driver at some point in their lifetime. This is senseless crime that can be stopped and I’m going to stop it,” Helfrich explained.
WCU’s Andrea Helfrich will be competing for the title of Miss Philadelphia on Saturday March 28, 2009 at the Mandell Theatre at Drexel University. Come out and support our fellow student as she competes for this prestigious honor.
Jackie Aliotta is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in business, technical writing, and Spanish. She can be reached at JA609350@wcupa.edu.