Cheryl Schindler

At 47 years of age, I didn't suddenly wake up one morning and get the urge to wear a crown and sash. However, after reading so much about the Miss BC Pageant and the wonderful things that its directors and contestants were doing for their communities, I became intrigued. Having been involved in many charities over the years, I looked at the pageant as an opportunity to gain a stronger voice for my causes. When I stood on stage July 2018, I was in shock when my name was announced as Mrs Charity BC. I had raised over $11,000 for Cops for Cancer, but when I was crowned it was an overwhelming feeling.

During pageant weekend, I was surrounded by like-minded women who wanted to do more for others and make a difference. These women radiated with beauty from within. They shared their stories, their heartfelt moments, and their ambitions. I witnessed something remarkable, a large group of women coming together to support each other and stand strong as one. The days were long, but filled with lifelong learning experiences and fond memories. I watched as each of these beautiful women and girls gained new tools, strength, and confidence, including myself. I never imagined that I would learn so many life skills over a few days.

My year as Mrs Charity BC was full of volunteering opportunities. I helped serve over 300 turkey dinners at Thanksgiving, I assisted at the Terry Fox Run, I lit candles for the Make a Wish Foundation at Van Dusen Gardens, and I became a member of a new activity committee in Surrey for Big Sisters. In addition to my volunteering activities, I had the privilege of participating in a fashion show and parade as well as attending numerous community events.

After I pass my crown on to the next Mrs Charity BC, my journey to help others will not cease. In fact, it has only just begun. I will continue to mentor as a Big Sister and I will seek new opportunities where I can donate the most precious commodity I have to give, my time. Most importantly, I will continue my most important roles of being a mother, wife, and owner of two rescue dogs.

I also want to acknowledge the pageant director, Gloria (also known as the pageant mom), for all the charitable work that she does and the countless young women and girls she has helped on their respective journeys. Gloria is an individual who looks out for everyone, and the young women and girls of BC, and the pageant in particular, will continue to benefit from her caring and inclusivity.

The Miss BC Pageant was the experience of a lifetime, and it has inspired me to achieve a number of life goals. It has also helped shape how I view our complex but rich world, and that is that life is to be lived to the fullest, and that the maximum returns come from caring and giving. Finally, the Miss BC Pageant allowed me to dispel an old stereotype, that being that one is never too old to wear a crown, a truism confirmed by some of my fellow pageant representatives and me over this past year.