By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The 92nd Anniversary Miss Philadelphia Pageant crowned its 2013 winner Saturday night at the Prince Theater in Center City.
“I was speechless, it was such a shocking and exhilarating moment for me,” says 19-year-old Francesca Ruscio (photo). She had tears in her eyes as the announcer called her name. “I am so thrilled, I feel so blessed!”
Ruscio went head to head for the title, crown and a $10,000 scholarship against 16 other young women in talent, swim suit, evening gown and interview competitions.
“It wasn’t easy,” says Ruscio. “These girls are beautiful from head to toe, their talents were amazing. I’m so glad I challenged myself to sing an operatic vocal.”
Ruscio will spend the next year promoting her platform.
“I want to raise awareness of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I want to be their voice and I can be there for them. It’s a very serious condition and I have it as well.”
Former Miss Philadelphia Ryann Richardson says the 92nd anniversary pageant helps to groom women leaders.
“It’s a program that has created doctors, lawyers and business women, not just in the winners, but in the contestants from over the years.”
The pageant celebrated the life of longtime Executive Director Col. Kevin McAleese who died of brain cancer last month.
“We celebrate him,” says Richardson. “We will carry on his legacy.”
Sixteen-year-old Abby Rodgers of St. Basil Academy won the Miss Philadelphia Outstanding Teen competition. ErykaLynn Waller won a $10,000 Scholarship for her essay.