‘You’ve been crowned!’: Miss State Fair finds unique way to raise funds in pandemic

Miss Nebraska State Fair Courtney Pelland, right, stands alongside Braislee Wilson after placing a “You’ve Been Crowned!” sign in the Wilson family’s yard in Hershey. Pelland, a Miss Nebraska candidate, had been placing the signs in local addresses as part of a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network over the past few weeks. She plans to continue the effort through the end of May.

Courtney Pelland’s temporary lawn decoration has been a welcomed addition to a number of North Platte residences over the past few weeks.

The Miss Nebraska candidate and 2017 North Platte High School graduate has been placing signs in the yards of local residents in a fundraising venture that benefits the Children’s Miracle Network.

The signs, created by Meyer Creative, are placed at a specific address by Pelland each night either by request or suggestion. The sign carries the message of “You’ve Been Crowned!” along with a photo of both Pelland and a crown.

It is removed the next day and placed at another location.

“Due to the (coronavirus pandemic) I haven’t been able to go out and do the in-person fundraisers that I normally like to do,” said Pelland, who is the reigning Miss Nebraska State Fair. “I had to get a little creative.”

The project started with Pelland placing a sign in the yard of a family friend. The next day she received a request from a past Miss Nebraska State Fair candidate to place a sign in the yard of a family that she knew in town.

“From there it just kind of took off,” Pelland said. *It’s been kind of crazy but very rewarding.”

Three signs are being used now, and 27 houses and one business had been targeted through Thursday. Pelland said she had a list of requested addresses to hit that stretches through next week.

Pelland also started a T-shirt project that will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network as well and carries the message “Be Selfless. Donate Blood,” as she was the beneficiary of two blood transfusions during her high school years.

Pelland plans on continuing the project through the end of May when she will be starting a summer job as a student nurse technician at CHI Health Immanuel Hospital in Omaha.

She hopes to continue the project next summer in the North Platte area and perhaps expand it to the eastern side of the state.

Those who wish to follow her fundraising efforts can visit her Instagram page: @missnebraskastatefair2020 or on Facebook by searching for Miss Nebraska State Fair 2020, Courtney Pelland.

She is completing her junior year at Midland University in Fremont, where she is a nursing major.

Pelland initially had an interest in pursuing a business education in college with thoughts of opening a dance studio someday. Things changed in her mind roughly two weeks before she headed off to college, she said.

Part of her decision to pursue a health care profession dates back to her sophomore year in high school, when she was hospitalized with iron deficiency anemia.

She was eventually diagnosed with celiac disease, which is marked by the body’s rejection of gluten in food.

“It was the doctors and nurses who worked to figure out what was wrong with me,” Pelland said. “Knowing that they were there for me and wanted to help get me better, that is exactly what I want to do. I want to help those kiddos or adults who need that reassurance in their lives.

“Thinking back to it, I think it has always been there that this is what I’m meant to do. I’m meant to help people, save people’s lives and just give back.”

Pelland was a Little Sister to Brittany Jeffers, who won the Miss Nebraska title in 2009, which further sparked her interest in the pageant field. She also competed for the Miss Nebraska Outstanding Teen crown in 2016.

“I think I was 5 years old when my mom took me to my first Miss Nebraska pageant in North Platte and ever since then I have love the (competitions,” Pelland said. “I just always had that thought of ‘I want to be that girl up on the stage.’”

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