Cape Coral model and pageant contestant Donna Snow, winner of the 2010 Miss Florida US International Pageant, lives a life that defies stereotyping.
By night she's part of the glitz and glamour of the pageantry circuit at recent events hosted April 10 at the Lee County Alliance for the Arts and the upcoming Miss United States International pageant in Michigan on July 21, but during the day she is a professional BMX rider.
In her career as a professional rider she has broken dozens of bones including her back before a scheduled session with a photographer, but found that pageantry is opening new doors for her future.
Donna Snow, winner of the 2010 Miss Florida US International Pageant, is a BMX rider who has competed across the country. She’s also a student at FGCU.
"It's going to give me more opportunities, it's completely different from BMX," she said. "I have been racing my whole life, all over the country."
Snow started training to be a pageant contestant nearly three years ago with Envy Pageant Productions at 1105 Cape Coral Parkway East. Suzi Hosfeld, director of the production company, said getting Snow prepared for the circuit was more challenging than other girls.
"Donna has been our biggest challenge, because typically when we get a girl they already know pageants, but Donna came in and it was all new to her," she said. "We are two different worlds, she is integrating me to her world and we are integrating her into ours."
Although Snow is new to pageants, Hosfeld said her natural competitive spirit helps her to win practically every contest, a quality she developed riding BMX bikes. Along the way Hosfeld has helped her learn everything she needs to know about the clothes, hair and style featured in the circuit.
Snow was born in New Jersey and grew up in Cape Coral. She graduated from Mariner High and is now a double major at Florida Gulf Coast University who is due to graduate in one year. Her majors are forensics and psychology, and she is considering a career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation once she finishes a masters degree in the same subjects as her bachelors.
Competing and winning pageants on the local and state level has also helped her to win scholarships along the way and those have helped with the rising costs of college.
Besides schoolwork and riding BMX bikes, Snow has to put a lot of time and effort into preparing for pageants.
"I practice walking, we walk a lot and when you get the dress on it's kind of hard to walk," she said. "You have to know exactly what you are doing on stage so you don't trip on it."
She also practices public speaking to feel comfortable while onstage and practices answering questions the judges ask. During a competition she is judged in five categories: backstage interview, on-stage interview, swimsuit and evening gown.
During the on-stage interview at the Miss Florida US International Pageant, judges asked what made her angry.
"I joked and said when my sister steals my clothes," she said.
Close to 30 pageant contestants and models work with Hosfeld and the local office serves as a training facility for girls in other states. She has also trained other contestants who have gone on to win the Miss Teen Florida World and other international competitions.
As a crown holder, Snow will travel the state to make appearances and host speaking engagements, and she is also scheduled to be the grand marshall at the Fourth of July parade at Fort Myers Beach.
Hosfeld said the traveling is a wonderful opportunity for Snow to network and potentially meet influential people or be offered a job.