Butler resident aspires to be model citizen on and off catwalk

Denika Donnelly. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d493012
Denika Donnelly. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d493012

DENIKA Donnelly is aspiring to be a model citizen, on and off the catwalk.

The Butler resident will be the first Australian representative for the International United Miss pageant in July after being appointed Miss Australia, and will also be the first international delegate as previously they have all been from US states.

Miss Donnelly said as a national representative, she promoted positive pageantry and worked in the community to make a difference in the lives of others.

That has included making donations to charities such as Good Sammy’s and the Vinnies, making boxes for Operation Christmas Child and visiting the Jodie O’Shea orphanage in Indonesia to donate clothing and school stationery.

In May she volunteered at the Greenwood toy library, the Australian Red Cross sorting clothes, 65 Roses for Cystic Fibrosis, the HBF Run for a Reason, and Mothers Day Classic, as well as walking to D’feet MND (motor neurone disease).

The ECU counterterrorism student also picks up litter around the northern suburbs.

“When I am not volunteering with charity organisations or attending university, I spend my time collecting rubbish and posting to social media to encourage others to make a difference as well,” she said.

“I have collected rubbish at my local parks in Butler, Iluka and the Iluka foreshore.”

Miss Donnelly said she was looking forward to meeting and competing with young women at the pageant in New Jersey.

“International United Miss is dedicated to empowering young women while giving them the opportunity to grow and develop a positive self-image,” she said.

“They encourage young women to be H.E.R.O.I.C., embodying the characteristics of humility, empathy, respect, optimism, integrity and community.

“They provide opportunities for young women and girls to cultivate their talents and public speaking abilities, while helping to facilitate poise and self-confidence.”

Miss Donnelly said her platform was self-empowerment, motivated by her experiences of being bullied in high school, developing an eating disorder and having a home life that was “far from pleasant”.

“Having a father who abused drugs there was often verbal fighting and violence,” she said.

“Eventually I became a victim of this violence, taking a toll on my mental health.

“I want to use my voice in pageantry to not only spread awareness, but also my story in hope that it may help someone else who is in the same situation or recovering from the same or similar situation.

“I know it can be hard and seem like there is never going to be an end to the pain, but I am proof that the pain you experience can be both your fire and strength in the long run.

“Aside from empowering others, I live a cruelty free lifestyle and love to promote protection of our planet and animals living among us.”