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Pageant Winners:

Miss Cape May County Area

2017 Madison Kennelly, Woodbine
Platform: Lend a Paw! Power of Pet Therapy

An eighteen year old college freshman attending York College of Pennsylvania studying Mass Communications, Madison is a proud resident of Tuckahoe NJ. She was proudly Miss Cape May County’s Outstanding Teen 2012 and 2015, and on October 22nd she was honored to be crowned Miss Cape May County Area 2017 and continue her journey in her home county.

At the age of eleven, she suffered from depression and anxiety as a result of being bullied and ridiculed for being overweight. The depression caused her to continue to overeat, to sneak food into her bedroom and hide it from her parents. Every day was a struggle to go to school, endure the harassment, and continue to maintain good grades. Eventually her secret eating was discovered and her parents tried desperately to help her overcome her lack of self-esteem. That is when she learned about the Power of Pet Therapy.

Peanut is a beautiful, kind and loving puppy. When she was brought into Madison’s life, she looked forward to seeing her every day. She changed Madison into the positive, self-confident woman that she is today. Her family realized that if Peanut had the power to help Madison, then she could help many others as a pet therapy dog. Peanut attended over twenty weeks of training and passed her test as an AKC canine good citizen. She became one of the youngest of the “Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs.” Maddi then created an organization called “Princess and a Peanut,” (now her platform – Lend a Paw! The Power of Pet Therapy) and she and Peanut began by visiting libraries, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and geriatric homes. It is truly amazing that it has been over six years now and the program has expanded to include ARC camps, Gilda’s House, neurological facilities, CMN hospitals, hospice patients and schools. Each visit with a patient is unpredictable but in the end they both know they made a person just a bit happier that day.

When visiting schools, Peanut and Madison visit with the students and discuss ways they too can find the thing they love and turn it into a great way of volunteering in the community. Pet Therapy has been an incredible journey for them and they look forward to bringing smiles and improving the quality of life for everyone who meets Peanut.
Each and every year they try to find a new facility or type of new pet therapy they can add to their pet therapy visits. Peanut and Madison average about 500 hours of community service per year and training required for each program. They were thrilled to receive the President’s Gold Award in Community Service and many other gracious awards and donations over the years.

“When we make service work a normal part of our lives we don’t simply teach our children strong core values, we demonstrate these values in action. As Miss Cape May County Area 2017, I want to speak to children and empower our youth to find the type of volunteering that is pure fun to them and make it a part of their daily activities. For me pet therapy is fun and exciting each and every visit is a new beginning into making someone else happy. What I learned is the happiness of others is contagious and it makes me the happy young woman I am today”. ~Madison Kennelly
Miss Cape Resort

2017 Marissa Sanders, Pitman
Platform: R.E.A.D (Literacy Awareness)

Marissa is a recent graduate of Rowan College at Gloucester County.  She studied elementary education there, and is continuing her studies at Rowan University.  Her career goal is to be an elementary school teacher.  In addition to prioritizing her education academically, she has studied violin since the age of six, and now teaches a few students of her own.  Marissa also has a background in dance; she has taken lessons since age three and says she basically grew up at her dance studio. 

Marissa is a part of the Miss America Organization and is thrilled to be named Miss Cape Resort 2017.  With a platform of “R.E.A.D.” Marissa’s aim is to promote literacy, as well as to encourage students to bring daily reading back into their lives.  She has already gone to several elementary schools and other reading events, and she hopes to continue doing so.

Marissa loves helping others in any way she can.  She has participated in various service events in the community.  One of her favorite things to do is play at special musical masses at her church.  She is a part of the Youth Music Ministry, which is a small ensemble group that practices together and plays at mass once per month.  She also enjoys when the group goes to local nursing homes to share their love of music with the residents.  Their smiles are what she likes seeing best; seeing happiness like that, she says, is simply priceless.