For Puyallup resident Lorinda Willis, her title of Mrs. Puyallup extends far beyond her glittery crown and sash.
It’s more about serving her community through spreading an anti-bullying message and getting involved in local schools. She hopes her latest endeavor will take those platforms to the next level.
The mother of five will compete Saturday in the Mrs. Washington America pageant in Olympia.
Nearly 10 years ago, Willis decided to run in in the pageant. But after the death of her husband, a pageant quickly became the last thing on her mind. Since re-marrying — and the passage of time — the thought of doing the Mrs. Puyallup pageant in order to compete for Mrs. Washington kept entering Willis’ mind.
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“You get busy being a wife and a mom, and you think: A pageant? I don’t have time for that,” the 44-year-old said. “I kept putting it off and I thought that if I wanted to do it, I needed to do it soon.”
This time, Willis had a full year to prepare. She used her platform of bullying and get involved in the local community. Willis was eventually crowned Mrs. Puyallup, and is now eagerly awaiting the Mrs. Washington pageant.
Willis owns a small business, EnvisionU, which offers classes for teenagers to help them in personal hygiene, confidence and appearance. Combined with her experience as a mother to five children, Willis is quite familiar with how bullying effects her own children and those she works with at her small business.
“Little did I know that the subject of bullying was going to be a discussion I would have with some of these ladies (that I work with),” the Puyallup resident wrote on her Go Fund Me page. “I also didn’t realize that one of my own children was dealing with some of this behavior at school. Being a mother of 5 children, no parent wants to see their child be bullied or degraded in any way.”
From there, Willis began doing research on the problem and came across several articles about teenagers committing suicide as a result of bullying.
“As parent, I decided that I could not just sit and do nothing,” she said. “I started talking with teens about bullying and what we can do to stop it. I have been able to get involved with some of the schools in my area, along with helping and leading our youth group at my church. Right now I am in the beginning stages of this journey but with each step that is taken, there are more answers being brought to light and more children being helped.”
In running for Mrs. Washington, Willis’ expenses have quickly added up as she covers the costs associated with competing. To donate to Willis and her platform, visit gofundme.com/orujl0.