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DWU student named Miss Worldwide United 2016

Alaina Bertsch and her parents shared a crowning moment. On July 28, Bertsch, of Mitchell, earned the first Miss Worldwide United 2016 title in Omaha, Neb. Gerald "Jerry" and Karen Bertsch helped Alaina, a Dakota Wesleyan University student, cele...

The first Worldwide United Pageant was held on July 28 in Omaha. (Left to right) Schuylar Christiansen, Alaina Bertsch and Shirlene Hagler were the first queens crowned for the pageant. (Submitted photo)
The first Worldwide United Pageant was held on July 28 in Omaha. (Left to right) Schuylar Christiansen, Alaina Bertsch and Shirlene Hagler were the first queens crowned for the pageant. (Submitted photo)

Alaina Bertsch and her parents shared a crowning moment.

On July 28, Bertsch, of Mitchell, earned the first Miss Worldwide United 2016 title in Omaha, Neb.

Gerald "Jerry" and Karen Bertsch helped Alaina, a Dakota Wesleyan University student, celebrate the moment by presenting her with the crown, sash and flowers for this achievement.

"It was a very nice gesture for the pageant director to do that and honor Alaina in that way," Karen said.

Prior to this, Bertsch had never been to a pageant in which the parents presented the crown to the title winner.

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Traditionally, the most-recent pageant winner in the Miss category presents the crown to new title holder. In the Mrs. category, the husband of the winner presents the crown.

For the first Worldwide United pageant, three women were selected, each representing one of three categories. They were selected based off past pageants, and the three categories were Miss, Ms. and Mrs.

On the day of the pageant, the three women completed an onstage interview, answered questions about physical fitness and modeled an evening gown. Because it was the first Worldwide United pageant, each of the three women were crowned and will help promote the pageant for next year to help it grow.

Bertsch was surprised to be crowned, but she is no stranger to pageants. The 21 year old has competed since she was 14, and her previous titles include Miss Teen South Dakota International 2011, Miss Teen Great Plains International 2012 and Miss Teen Midwest International 2013.

In addition to being a title holder, she attends DWU where she is studying theater. After she graduates, she wants to use drama therapy to help others.

As Miss Worldwide United 2016, she will act as a representative for the pageant, promote her platform and search for delegates for the 2017 Miss Worldwide United pageant. The pageant is scheduled for July 27, 2017, at the Ramada Plaza Omaha Hotel and Convention Center.

"I was honestly shocked and surprised," Bertsch said about being crowned. "It's been a phenomenal time. I couldn't be more thankful for it really."

The pageant was organized and directed by Ellen McGovern. She was the former 2012 Mrs. Nebraska International and 2015 Mrs. Nebraska USA Universal. After being crowned in 2015, McGovern decided that was the last competition that she would compete in, but she later decided to direct her own pageant.

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McGovern was judging a different pageant when she was first introduced to Bertsch.

"I was very, very impressed with her platform, her poise, her appearance, her speaking," McGovern said. "My overall impression was that she would make a fantastic representative."

The main focus for McGovern's pageant is the contestants' platform. An area the women dedicate their time and try to bring awareness to the subject.

"This is very much a platform-based pageant. It's not just about feeling and looking beautiful," McGovern said. "I'm looking for inner beauty in women."

Bertsch created her platform, Blankets of Sunshine, by making and distributing fleece tie blankets to people in need. In July, she donated 15 blankets to the Royal C. Johnson Veterans Memorial Medical Center and 23 blankets to the Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls.

"I wanted to be able to give something to people who kind of need that warmth and comfort," Bertsch said.

The idea to make blankets stemmed from her mother making blankets when Bertsch was a child. She said the blankets lifted up her spirits, and she wanted to provide that feeling to others.

In the future, Bertsch wants to her blankets throughout the United States, and eventually, internationally.

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Jerry has watched his daughter compete in pageants for seven years, and he has witnessed the positive effects of her involvement in the competitions.

"It's been a motivating thing for her to keep her going in the right direction," Jerry said. "We're really proud of her and what she's doing and I think she knows that."

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