During the weekend of July 9-10, Helennina Lujan, 16, and Sydney Cole, 8, will be in Scottsdale competing as state finalists in the National American Miss Arizona pageant.

Helennina, who resides in Marana, is entering the ages 16-17 division.

Unbeknownst to her, she was nominated and entered into the pageant. When she received a packet in the mail saying she was a finalist, she didn’t believe it.

“I thought it was fake,” she said.

Helennina’s aunt and uncle, Lisamarie and Curtis Foster, reviewed the material and realized it wasn’t something phony, so she decided to enter.

Curtis Foster felt the pageant was more of a realistic, adult approach to a pageant where the focus isn’t simply on beauty.

“The pageant people seem to be looking for people who are more into helping their community, doing something with their life, pushing forward and making goals,” Foster said. “And making them come out of their shell a little bit and look more into their future.”

The pageant program is based on inner beauty as well as poise and presentation. It emphasizes the importance of gaining self-confidence, learning good sportsmanship and setting and achieving personal goals.

Helennina admits she is a little shy. She hopes the pageant will help her overcome that.

“I want to be out there, and be noticed, and to have fun,” she said. “I want to show all the girls who are like me and shy, to not be, and to just be yourself.”

The active teenager likes to play pool and is looking forward to being in a dance class at Marana High School, where she will be a junior next year.

Sydney Cole, who resides in Northwest Tucson, is entering the pageant in the ages 7-9 division.

She enjoys community service, working with animals and performing gymnastics. Sydney also enjoys ice-skating, traveling, history, watching ice hockey, reading and school.

The winner of the National American Miss Arizona pageant will receive $1,000 cash, the official crown and banner, a trophy, and the paid transportation and sponsor fees to compete in the national pageant in California.

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