McKenzie Kay Blumhagen was awarded Mrs. North Dakota American 2021 at the state pageant held on Sunday, August 29, 2021, at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks.
“This new title brings on new opportunities to share my platform as well as an added opportunity of representing Victoria’s Voice,” said Blumhagen. Her chosen platform is suicide prevention.
“I chose suicide prevention because of the impact suicide has played in my own life,” said Blumhagen. “I’ve lost three family members to suicide; I was hospitalized in high school for suicidal ideation; and since then, I’ve lost an ex-boyfriend who was a high school classmate as well as another classmate. This platform has deep roots in my life.”
Victoria’s Voice is a foundation that was formed in response to the death of Victoria Siegel, who died of a drug overdose in her parents’ home near Orlando, Florida, at the age of 18. She was one of 129 Americans to die that day from a drug overdose, and that statistic continues to rise at unprecedented levels.
The Victoria’s Voice Foundation works to influence legislation at the national, state, and local levels for drug policy reform. They participate in efforts to ensure first responders have Narcan, the antidote to opioid overdose. Teen and celebrity influencers on social media help with projects like Teen Talk Series and Social Media for Good. The Foundation launched Victory Clubs in January of 2021. This is the project Blumhagen plans to champion over the next 12 months.
“I am currently working with public health in Harvey, ND, where I am living,” said Blumhagen. “The goal is to partner with public health and begin Victory Clubs throughout the high schools in the state starting with my own town and partnering with schools from there to spread this mission. Victory Clubs are mental health clubs that focus on mental health and drug addiction.” Blumhagen envisions intertwining Victory Clubs with suicide prevention.
“Victory Clubs could take the starting steps by having a book club studying Victoria’s Voice and her journey and using her diary as a tool to open conversations relatable to them,” she continues. “These clubs are a great resource to teach high schools students appropriate coping skills! The suicide statistics for this specific age range is up 200% since 2019, and I believe Victory Clubs could be a tool to get those numbers down.”
Young people volunteer to be drug tested for Victory Club membership and agree to random drug screenings throughout the year. Test results are only provided to a member’s legal guardian or parent. Club members enjoy incentives worth hundreds of dollars through freebies and discounts at places to eat, shop, play, and travel, with resources to stay drug-free and address stressful issues teens face such as bullying and body dysmorphia.
Blumhagen was also awarded Director’s Choice and Congeniality at the state pageant. She will make additional appearances and compete at the national pageant to be held November 18-20, 2021, at the Westgate in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is originally from Langdon and graduated from Langdon Area High School.
The Mrs. North Dakota America, Mrs. North Dakota American, and Miss North Dakota for America Strong state pageants are owned and directed by Michael and Meg Morley of Grand Forks, ND. The national pageants are owned and directed by Mrs. Elaine Marmel of La Quinta, California.