Women in the Senior Miss Arizona Pageant are hoping to show seniors everywhere that they can do whatever they want to do, no matter what their age.

"Age is nothing more than a number and an attitude," said Ruth Kadoich, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident who won "Best Philosophy" in the pageant last year and is competing once again. "It's how you view your age... You've got to think young. You've got to still continue setting goals that will enrich others. That will make you a better and happier person and a more fulfilled person, too."

Fifteen Arizona women will compete Saturday in the Miss Senior Arizona Pageant, including three from Ahwatukee Foothills. The baseline to enter the pageant is 60 years old and Kadoich is the oldest at 84.

The women compete in four areas: Philosophy of life, interview with the judges, evening gown presentation and talent.

"The talking parts are pretty nerve wracking," said Joan Czerneda, 68, who won "Most Photogenic" last year and is competing for her second year. "The last part of it, for the five runners up, you have to pick a question and then they ask the question and you have to answer it right off the top of your head. That's a very important part because the way you answer that question is whether you're going to be the queen or the first runner-up, or whatever."

Each of the women enjoys the pageant but their passion is for the Cameo Club that goes on after the pageant. Anyone who has been in the pageant is welcome to join the club and perform their talents in retirement homes across the Valley.

The women perform 67 shows a year, including some that raise money for a good cause. This year the proceeds will go to Eve's Place for abused women and children.

Dawn Pratt, 65, said the Cameo Club was the reason she decided to join the pageant. She met a past queen in a Zumba class and was told about all the good they hope to do.

"My life was beginning a new chapter, a new beginning, and so I found great purpose in what she was telling me," Pratt said. "She told me that it would change my life and that it would be a great adventure. And it has been. I have made so many wonderful friends through this I cannot begin to tell you. From coming and knowing no one to now having some of the most quality people I have ever known and becoming very close to them."

Each of the women from Ahwatukee has had successful careers and is now learning new skills.

Kadoich joined a modeling school at the age of 39 and eventually owned her own school. She also spent some time as a secretary for a hydraulics company. Now she is learning more about natural healing for health problems and is becoming very active in politics. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and the two sons she is very proud of. She will be singing "If I Ever Loved You" from the show Carousel, which she was in in Pennsylvania.

Pratt is a longtime dancer. She has worked many years doing interior design for retail and commercial. She also owned her own interior design business. Now she is looking into diet solutions and would like to become a health coach. She is excited that her two sons and one daughter are all coming into town with their families for the pageant. She will be dancing to "All That Jazz."

Czerneda is also a longtime dancer. She has also worked as a flight attendant and, eventually, a supervisor of more than 200 flight attendants. She is working on her doctorate at the moment for metaphysics. Czerneda is also involved with the Humane Society and babysits her grandson often. She will be dancing the hula for her talent.

The Senior Miss Arizona Pageant will be Saturday, March 12 at North Canyon High School Auditorium, 1700 E. Union Hills. Tickets are $25 for VIP seating and $15 for general seating. Tickets can be purchased by calling (602) 788-9556 or (602) 432-5657. More information can be found at msseniorarizona.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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