Whether a dress or her cancer awareness platform, Abigale Bodene wears it well
In a matter of two years, Abigale Bodene has won the titles of Forest Lake High School homecoming queen and Miss Morris International, has competed in the Miss Minnesota International pageant and attended modeling school on a full scholarship. On Saturday, she took part in her first fashion show, and in December she will ship off to an unknown location to be photographed for a cover shoot.
Glamorous, to be sure, but the Forest Lake native would rather have her platform fit well than her dress.
Bodene’s passion for community involvement has been the driving force behind her endeavors on the stage and runway. Just 20, she is quickly becoming a seasoned veteran when it comes to promoting breast cancer awareness.
She has witnessed the destructive nature of the disease, as the mothers of several of her friends have been afflicted with it. Carna Brandt, the mother of one of Bodene’s best friends, has battled breast cancer three times.
“Since we are so close, it was like my mother having breast cancer three times,” Bodene says. “It’s not only the patient that gets diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s also the family – everyone has to go through what they go through.”
Since her first pageant last December, many doors have opened to Bodene, and she has carried her cause through each one. Her platform, “The Power of Pink – Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention,” is more than lip service. Bodene is double-majoring in biochemistry and Spanish at the University of Minnesota–Morris while working towards earning a degree in bilingual pharmacy in four years.
Her platform goes hand-in-hand with her schooling and career dreams, so she stays on top of the medical issues related to breast cancer.
“We’re doing our best to raise as many funds as we can right now, but the issue is that we have these new technologies that are coming out and that are working fairly well, they’re just very expensive,” she says. “The most important part is everybody just needs to be aware and know their risks.”
No Toddler Tiara
Bodene knows the pageantry stereotypes as well as anyone. That doesn’t mean she has to subscribe to them.
“I was definitely never a toddler in a tiara or anything like that,” she laughs. “I loved to play soccer, I loved to play volleyball and run outside and hang out with my family.”
It was her 2010 coronation as homecoming queen that led her to consider spending more time on stage. But even that choice had humble roots. Admittedly not being much of an athlete, her crowning stemmed from her involvement with clubs and good causes. That continued as homecoming queen, as Bodene took it upon herself to become involved with local service clubs and use her title to make a difference.
“That kind of made me think, ‘Hmm, maybe I could keep raising awareness and keep up the community involvement by trying a pageant,’” she says.
After a summer of refining her platform and volunteering as much as possible, it did not take long for Bodene to find success. The then-college freshman won the title of Miss Morris International at her first pageant, held last December.
That win qualified her for the Miss Minnesota International competition held this March in St. Cloud. She did not place there, but took home several awards, including being named Ms. Amity by her peers. She also earned the full-ride to the modeling school in Maple Grove and was selected for the upcoming photo shoot, the results of which will be used to publicize the Miss International pageant system and build Bodene’s modeling portfolio.
Though at times “it feels like your smile is glued on your face,” Bodene has taken to pageantry.
“I’m just loving it, it keeps me so busy, plus school,” she says. “It’s something that I’ve found to be really fun and something I’ll probably be doing for a long time…Every step of the way has really opened more and more doors for community involvement and I really appreciate that.”
An event just this past Saturday encapsulated so much of what Bodene is working so hard for. Through a tip from a pageantry friend, Bodene hit the runway in Stillwater for a fashion show featuring designer Ashley Ostrowski’s 2013 spring/summer Dollia fashion line. Ostrowski, of St. Paul, named her clothing line after the favorite flower (dahlia) of her mother, who died from breast cancer in 2008. The show raised over $7,000 for a local breast cancer research facility.
For Bodene, the thrill of her first fashion show was matched only by the chance to support her platform.
“It was something else that really combined that pageant platform with the modeling piece of it and that was just the perfect fit,” she says. “That was so much fun.”