If there is one thing country people are good at, it’s banding together and working hard to support a good cause.
For Bathurst Charles Sturt University student Kayla Downey, that’s certainly no different.
The 22-year-old entered into her first Miss Supercars competition this year.
And little did she expect to be crowned 2018 Miss Charity Queen ahead of 25 others come the national final.
Kayla, who hails from Parkes, was initially selected out of 1500 women to compete for the Miss Supercars 2018 title.
Out of the 26 girls selected, she was voted in the top 12.
Pageants are typically known for the judging of women for their beauty, but Kayla was aboard a flight to the Gold Coast for the revamped Miss Supercars Ambassador Program.
This year’s event, which took place on October 17, was focused on empowering women who are strong, intelligent and want to make a difference.
“The Miss Supercars program wants women who want to be influencers,” Kayla said.
“It was an incredible experience.
“It’s something I've always wanted to compete in before graduating and moving on with my career, and it was a special feeling representing my town all the way in Queensland.
“My ambition in life is to be a role model for young women and men who are passionate about the health and fitness industry as I am.”
As part of the program Kayla was given expert life coaching training by Ayda Shabanz, training on building your own brand by Katie Stevens and management lessons from Ryan Chipperfield.
At the national final, Kayla was judged on the catwalk in front of an audience in her evening wear gown and one piece swimsuit.
She won the Miss Charity Queen 2018 title after raising more than $6000 that contributed to the combined figure of $25,000 raised by all competitors for the Variety Children’s Charity.
Through the support of D’Aquino’s Liquor in Parkes and Kelso, F45 Bathurst, Bernardis IGA and Studio K Hair Salon, Kayla was able to raise funds through raffle tickets.
She had also started a “zero waste” movement by collecting bottles and cans around her university campus in Bathurst, which she had deposited at her local Return and Earn site.
Kayla said she gained an immense amount of support through business owners and community members wanting to contribute to the cause.
The $25,000 raised in total will go towards helping disadvantaged children and families.
Kayla said raising funds for Variety meant a great deal to her as helping people is her passion.
“I’m a big advocate for believing that it shouldn’t matter where you come from or your circumstance, everyone deserves the absolute best in life,” she said.
On her final day on the Gold Coast Kayla participated in the Gold Coast 600 drivers parade, where she was paired with race car driver Shane Van Gisbergen, waving to car racing fans around the track before the final race.
Kayla had the honour to be on pole position four prior to the race starting, where she held Craig Lowdnes sign for the final race of his career.
That was a big highlight for her.
“I love watching the Supercars and being part of the experience by doing Grid Girl work for various brands, which I have done previously, and I love being among the crowds who bring the racing industry to life,” Kayla said.
“My favourite highlight was holding Craig Lowdnes’ pole position for his final race, it is something I will cherish forever as Craig Lowdnes is one of my favourite race car drivers.”
Kayla would like to thank all the local businesses involved with her success and a big thank you to the local community who backed her every step of the way.
Kayla is currently studying a Bachelor of Communications in Media Practice (Content Producing) with an Advertising Major at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst.