Writer Shannon Severson

Photo by Maya Photography

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen Arizona temperatures reach their height this July, Miss Anthem Teen USA Skylie Seidman will also be hitting the high point in her quest to earn the title of Miss Arizona Teen USA and to help a worthy local charity.

The Boulder Creek High School junior was crowned this past November and has chosen to use her platform to raise funds for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Patient and Family Hardship Fund. Skylie is collecting money and gift cards to provide emergency relief options to struggling families with sick children, helping them to preserve as much balance as possible while going through a time of crisis.

“I want to make a great impact,” Skylie says. “I think this is a great opportunity — especially considering everything people are going through with the coronavirus.”

Skylie’s mom, Lora Seidman Warnock, says helping children was a natural choice for Skylie as a love for kids runs in their family.

“I, myself, work with special needs kids and we have become really close friends with several families who have been positively impacted by the work of Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” Lora explains. “We have seen the good work they do firsthand. Skylie loves children like I do, so this was a natural direction for her to take in order to help others.”

Lora was just as pleasantly surprised as Skylie when Casting Crowns — the organization that runs Miss Arizona Teen USA — contacted her daughter and asked if she would consider applying to represent Anthem in the pageant.

“I remember the day well,” Lora recalls. “I was driving in the car and she said, ‘Mom, you’re never going to believe this.’ I was not prepared for what she was going to tell me, but she was really excited.”

Casting Crowns had seen Skylie on Instagram. A total newcomer to the pageant scene, the Anthem teen — whose favorite subject is algebra — decided to take the chance. She now adds her pageant participation to a long list of activities that includes National Honor Society, Varsity Cheer Team and Active Stars All-Star Cheer competition team — which this summer will head to the national competition in Knoxville.

Although Skylie has spent much of her life competing and performing on stage as a cheerleader, Lora notes that making personal appearances and speaking publicly was not originally in her daughter’s comfort zone.

“She has learned a lot about herself as a person,” Lora says. “She’s stepped out of her comfort zone and grown so much — putting herself out there and getting more involved in the community has been a great opportunity.

“I don’t think people realize how much the events of the past year have affected teenagers. To see how much Skylie has tried to keep herself going and to choose to do something positive says a lot about her, her personality and how she is managing her life. There aren’t words to express how proud I am of her.”

Lora and Skylie are working together to get the word out about the fundraiser, with a goal of raising $2,000 for Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Patient and Family Hardship Fund.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital has a dedicated social work team that assesses patient families most in need of support. Last year, over $461,000 was raisied to help more than 700 patient families — and the need is only increasing each year. Therefore, the hospital’s team is grateful for the help, as 100% of the funds Skylie raises will go directly to the program.

“We are incredibly grateful to Miss Anthem Teen USA, Skylie Seidman, for her efforts to raise money for Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Patient and Family Hardship Fund and for supporting Phoenix Children’s,” says Tim Harrison, vice president of corporate partnerships and special events at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“The hardship fund helps patient families offset the costs related to their child’s hospital stay — such as food, gas, lodging and transportation. Having a critically ill or injured child is difficult, so we thank Skylie for supporting families in financial need during an already stressful time.”

Along with the opportunity to help families in need and developing her personal skills, Skylie has also had the chance to meet her fellow contestants — a positive, supportive group of young women.

“The attitude of everyone is great,” Lora says. “The attitude is that they’re competing together and not against each other. That has been something she really likes. It has been awesome to see the approach that they’re all working together.”

In her future beyond the Miss Arizona Teen USA competition this summer, Skylie plans to continue working with children.

“I am planning to attend Grand Canyon University after high school,” the Anthem teen explains. “While I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do, I will probably pursue a degree in education. The skills I’m learning now — meeting new people, public speaking and pushing myself to learn, train and succeed in general — are going to be helpful in the future.”