Fifteen years ago Shannon Ford began her career in the world of pageants. She started pageanting for the tuition help at 18 while she was going to FIU. She saw an advertisement for a Miss Miami scholarship, and needing money for her tuition, decided to try her luck. She didn’t win the pageant, but with her competitive spirit, decided to continue competing until she finally won her first title, three years later. She went on to win several other titles, including Miss Florida America. She reached the cap age, 24, and hung up her crown, thinking her pageanting days were over forever.
Nine years later, she received an email from the Director of Mrs. Florida asking her to compete again. After discussing with her husband and taking some time to think it over, Shannon decided to get back into the world of Mrs. USA. This time around, she wasn’t looking for money to pay for college, but a chance to tell her story.
Three years ago Shannon was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease, a digestive condition that is triggered by foods containing gluten. Shannon has had to radically change her diet, and has adopted a healthier lifestyle along the way. Figuring out what was wrong with her, she tells interviewher.com, was not easy. “Before I was diagnosed, I had to go to four different doctors who told me everything was fine.” She suspected it may be Celiac’s disease, but had a difficult time getting anyone to listen to her. “If you feel like something’s wrong,” she advises, be persistant…Don’t worry about someone thinking you’re crazy.”
“My passion for it has only grown since I’ve won the title.” Shannon has dedicated her time as Mrs. United States 2011 to raise awareness for the disease, and promote testing. She has taken time to meet with teenage girls recently diagnosed and and enjoys being a role model. It’s not easy, she acknowledges, “I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it at 14.”
What does it take to win Mrs. United States? asks interviewher.com. Shannon explains that she is naturally a competitive person, so she knows when she wants to win. “There’s a lot of sacrifices that you have to make,” explains Shannon. “You’re not going to win if you’re not going work for it.” When she entered her second round of competing, she was on a mission. “I knew it was my second chance,” she says. Fortunately, she had the support of her husband, who shares her competitive spirit, and was willing to make the sacrifices with her. “I couldn’t even go out for my birthday because I didn’t want to eat cake…I had an end goal in mind and I wanted to get there…You have to know what you want, and I was there to win.”
It also helps to be a positive person. “I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason,” Shannon says, citing this belief as helping her get through a lot of hard times. “ I’m a bit of a control freak,” Shannon adds, admitting she knows she can’t control everything, ‘but I can control my outlook on life.”
Shannon will end her reign as Mrs. United States in August of 2012, although, she explains, she will always be Mrs. United States 2011. She will crown the next girl, and hopefully, she tells interviewher.com, stay in the public eye. Shannon expresses an interest in television, as a means to continue to spread the word about Celiac’s disease, she will be a feature columnist in a Gluten free magazine. She is also considering writing a book.
Shannon is available for appearances and hosting worldwide. For more information please email Abbi Johnson at Abbi@SugarbombPR.com.
Written by: Robin Jacobs
MRS. UNITED STATES