Local woman named ‘Mrs. Minnesota’Just a year ago, Heather Hall had no intention of competing for the title of Mrs. Minnesota let alone winning the crown. But that changed in June 2008 when her dying grandmother asked her to give it a try.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
Just a year ago, Heather Hall had no intention of competing for the title of Mrs. Minnesota let alone winning the crown. But that changed in June 2008 when her dying grandmother asked her to give it a try.
Hall, A West Lakeland Township resident, said she and Beverly Myhra developed their close relationship when Hall was a young teenager and Grandma Bev was her wardrobe consultant.
Grandma Bev, a seamstress, sewed Heather’s dress that she wore while she won the 1987 Little Miss Stillwater contest. She went on to win the Little Miss USA contest that same year.
The pageant was the first and last time Hall, then Heather Myhra, figured she would compete for a crown, but the bond that grandmother and granddaughter developed during the pageant was one that lasted, Hall said.
“She would always call me up when Miss USA or Miss America was on TV and we would talk about who we thought was going to win,” Hall said. “We’d chat during the commercials about the dresses and stuff like that. It was kind of our thing.”
Last June, while Hall was visiting her grandmother in hospice care, Bev asked her granddaughter to give the Mrs. Minnesota pageant a shot.
“I said ‘Grandma, you know that’s just not my thing,’” Hall recalled, pointing out that she hadn’t entered a beauty pageant since she was 14. “But then we started talking about it more and I told her that maybe I would do it next year. Then she said ‘You know I might not be here next year, but even if I’m not, you go ahead and do it anyway.’”
This spring Hall decided to fulfill her grandmother’s wish and signed up for the competition.
Building a program and competing for a national crown
As part of the Mrs. Minnesota America pageant, contestants are encouraged to develop a platform and in honor of her grandmother, Hall developed a program geared toward connecting seniors and school-aged children in the community.
The organization Linking Lifetimes is in its development stage, but Hall said the goal is to establish a network of youth to volunteer and develop friendships with residents of assisted living centers and retirement homes.
“It’s something that I’m just getting started on, so it’s pretty grass roots at this point,” Hall said. “But I am committed to the cause, because it’s something I believe in.”
But even as she is beginning to lift Linking Lifetimes off the ground, Hall, a mother of three, is also focusing on a task she hadn’t envisioned for herself even a few weeks ago: competing for the title of Mrs. America.
“The family has been extremely supportive through all of this,” said Hall, who moved with her husband Joe and their family to West Lakeland Township from Woodbury about five years ago. “I can really say I didn’t expect this, because I wasn’t 100-percent sure I was going to compete this year until this spring, and then, I figured that this would be a year to learn the ropes a bit, and then try to come back and win it next year.”
Mrs. Minnesota America pageant co-director Carl Schway said the organization is proud to have Hall as its most recent winner.
“The judges are looking for someone who is well-spoken, energetic, approachable and can reach out to anyone, and Heather is that type of person,” said Schway, whose wife Faith Schway won the crown in 1985 and is also co-director of the pageant.
“These pageants are extremely competitive, require a great deal of preparation, and Heather winning is a testament to that. She is someone who is going to make a good role model for married women out there.”
Hall said the morning after she won the crown, her everyday routine changed.
The part-time model and full-time mom and wife is now penciling in parades and fundraising appearances across the state, all while she is keeping her youngest daughter Ella, 8, busy during her summer break from school.
“It’s exciting, because this really isn’t something I planned, and my husband (Joe) told me before the competition, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’” Hall said. “Now I know what he meant. It’s a busy schedule.”
Hall said more than anything she wants to make the most of her opportunity to help people through her Linking Lifetimes program and through any volunteering she can do for those in need.
“I think prior to this competition I volunteered, but not nearly as much I realized I could,” Hall said. “I didn’t do it for the crown, I did to open some new doors for myself and to help people. That’s the rewarding part for me.”
Anyone interested in getting involved with Mrs. Minnesota Heather Hall’s Linking Lifetimes initiative can go to the Facebook page for the program by searching for “Linking Lifetimes.”