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Webster-Kirkwood Times

October 11 - 17, 2013

Emily Bray Wins National American Miss Missouri Proud parents Michelle & Tom Bray own Fizzy’s In Webster Groves by Linda Jarrett

When Emily Bray was 5, her friend came to dance class and showed off the crown she’d won in a beauty pageant. Emily wanted a crown like her friend, but to get one she had to enter the “Our Little Miss” beauty pageant. Bray got her crown, but she did not stop there. She entered more age-appropriate pageants, gaining experience and, more importantly, good friends along the way. In August, Bray won the National American Miss Missouri state pageant in Columbia, Mo. This November, she will represent Missouri in the national contest at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. Bray, the daughter of Michelle and Tom Bray of Sunset Hills, will have an opportunity to win a share of $500,000 in cash and prizes. The National American Miss Scholarship Program emphasizes the importance of gaining self-confidence, learning new skills, learning good attitudes about competition, and setting and achieving personal goals. In the beginning, Bray, a sophomore at Lindbergh High School, said she just liked the “bling stuff.” These were not the “Toddlers and Tiaras” type pageants. “The ones I’m in are called natural or scholarship pageants,” Bray said. The three main categories are formal wear, interview and introduction. “In interview, you have a one-onone conversation with six different

Emily Bray with her parents, Michelle and Tom Bray, owners of Fizzy’s Soda Fountain & Grill in Webster Groves. photo by Ursula Ruhl

judges for a minute,” Bray said. “In personal introductions, you have a rehearsed 30-second introduction about yourself so judges get to know you better. Formal wear is where you actually present yourself on stage.” Bray said the pageants have taught her communication skills and how to present herself. “It’s really easy now for me to walk up to anyone and start a conversation and relate to people,” she said. Community service plays a big part in Bray’s life in the form of Friends of Kids With Cancer. “Last year, I lost three friends under 18 to cancer, and it got to me,” she said. “I wanted to give back to the community and I found Friends of

Kids with Cancer. The dad of one of my friends who died told me to keep his memory alive, and last year I had over 1,800 hours of community service with them. “Now, anytime I’m at a national or state-level pageant and they say my name, I give a shout out to the organization to bring awareness to them.” The Brays own Fizzy’s Soda Fountain and Grill, 28 N. Gore in Webster Groves. At Fizzy’s recent grand opening, the Brays donated 10 percent of sales to Friends of Kids With Cancer. St. Louis Cardinal player Jason Mott attended and all proceeds from his autographs and shirts went to the organization.

Bray’s present goal is to win the national pageant in November, then on to “Miss Teen USA.” More than the crown and the banner, the pageant has brought Bray many friends from all over the world and she keeps in touch with them. “To her, it was about the experience, friends, and community service,” Michelle Bray said. “They’re looking for leaders and that’s what attracted her so much. “We’ve seen it grow her as a person where she can talk and relate to people,” she added. “She’s learned so much through her connection with Friends of Kids With Cancer, to listen to people, have empathy with people and as a young lady, it’s shaped her as a person.” Besides winning pageants, Bray is number two on her school’s varsity tennis team. She is also the Class of 2016 Secretary, a student council member, and a member of the Elite Athlete Club – L Club. Career-wise, Bray wants to carry her love of sports into sports broadcasting, preferably for ESPN from the field. Her other choice would be to open her own fashion boutique where she could donate a percentage of proceeds to Friends of Kids With Cancer. Her father, Bob, has played a big part in Emily’s success even helping her pick out gowns on occasion. He said her demeanor is not a façade put on for the public. “That’s how she is at home,” he said. “She’s a great daughter, a wonderful, easy-going teenager. She’s responsible and mature, and she is exactly what you see in the pageants.”

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