Sydney Holcomb of Bremerton, Wash., shined in the Miss Poulsbo, Miss Kitsap, Miss Silverdale Scholarship Pageant on Jan. 10 as she earned a string of honors. The 18-year-old dually enrolled Olympic High School senior/Olympic College student received $1,100 in scholarships as the overall winner in the talent and interview categories, recipient of the Lolly Torey Keith Legacy Award, and Miss Silverdale runner-up. But what the contest spurred in her? Priceless.
“It was the opportunity to earn some money for college that initially got me interested in the pageant,” Holcomb said, reflecting on her entry. “But it became so much more than that for me. Over the last four months, I’ve gained a lot of confidence, discovered some new abilities, and have been able to reach out in my school and community in a way I never would have before. I don’t need a crown to carry that forward.”
Long before the curtain went up Saturday night, Holcomb was thinking about what she truly wanted to accomplish through this experience. She spent dozens of hours preparing and volunteering with the other 20 contestants, mentoring youth, honing her own piano/vocal arrangement of “Say Something,” and developing a deeply personal platform.
“My whole life I have been blessed enough to know that I am loved, and have family and friends to support me. A lot of people don’t know they are important,” she said, noting that in Washington State alone the suicide rate among youth is 10 percent higher than the national average. “This breaks my heart because these are kids with so much potential! Every life is precious and everyone deserves to know that they are loved, that there is a reason for living.”
Holcomb drew from her own background, having lost her grandma to suicide in 2007 and learning of another family member’s repeated suicide attempts. “I know this is a very serious subject that is hard to talk about, but I also know that I am not the only person who has been affected by suicide; therefore, it has to be confronted,” she said. “I have tried to use social media for good by posting uplifting and suicide prevention messages. This fall, I created a video for Facebook that centered on each person’s ‘individual worth.’ The video had more than 1,600 views and continues to be seen. I also started a Suicide Prevention-Anti Bullying club, ‘Brighter Days,’ at Olympic High School. Then on Dec. 20, 2014, I held a holiday 5k run/walk and benefit concert to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.”
As a runner-up, Holcomb is not obligated to continue promoting her platform, but passionately intends to. She set a goal to raise $1,000 for the AFSP and is almost half way there. She created a fundraising page to share her story, promote future benefit events and continue awareness.
“If anyone has gone through a loss or is struggling, I want them to have a place to talk about it. Even if one feels completely and utterly alone, I need them to know that they are not.” Holcomb said. “So much of who I am is about serving others. I’m excited to build on what this pageant triggered in me, as I finish out my senior year plan for a 18-month mission in the fall.”
Clear Creek Dentistry congratulates Holcomb, a longtime patient, and the other young women on their outstanding aspirations, community outreach and demonstration of real beauty.