Three generations of beauty queens reign in Gig Harbor and create a unique bond between grandmother, mother and daughter.
Kaelynn Brengman, 18, the youngest of the three, currently is Miss Gig Harbor, Teen USA. She plans to compete in the Miss Teen Washington pageant in October.
“I’m excited to represent Gig Harbor on a new level,” Brengman said.
She’s simply following in her family’s footsteps.
Terry Brengman, Kaelynn’s grandmother, was named homecoming queen at Yuba College in Yuba City, Calif., when she was 19. She was the first nursing student allowed to compete in the homecoming queen competition.
Terry was nominated by both the girls and boys dorm for the title.
“It was amazing for me to win,” said Terry, a nurse who works at Stanley Elementary School.
Kaelynn’s mother, Shannon Dagley, entered her first beauty competition when she was 4, and she won Miss Teeny Bopper. She didn’t compete again until she was 12.
“Undefeated since 4 years old,” Dagley said with a smile.
Dagley entered a modeling competition called The Bon when she was 13, and she placed first out of 5,000 competitors in the teenage division. After she won, she did a photo shoot for a Sax Fifth Avenue prom clothes advertisement.
“I was put into it at 4,” Dagley said. “But The Bon was when I had a say.”
Dagley did not resume modeling after The Bon until she was pregnant with Kaelynn. That’s when she did plus-size modeling.
The three women have a very close relationship, especially Terry and Kaelynn.
“Very close grandmother and granddaughter relationship,” Terry said.
Kaelynn moved to Gig Harbor and lived with her grandmother after she was in elementary school. Kaelynn said she was bullied in elementary school, but pageants have helped with her self-confidence. She attended Goodman Middle School and Gig Harbor High for her freshman and sophomore years. Then she moved to Federal Way to live with her mom when her grandma got sick.
Kaelynn said she still returns to Gig Harbor whenever she has a chance.
“I have a strong connection with the church and people in Gig Harbor,” Kaelynn said.
Kaelynn became Miss Gig Harbor Teen USA when she was approached by Jeff Lang at the Gig Harbor Farmers Market. She declined at first, but she re-explored the idea the following year and applied for the title.
She earned the title in 2012 when she was 16 and won again this year when no one else applied.
“I didn’t really want to because I thought it was superficial and snooty,” Kaelynn said. “I got into it and met a bunch of amazing girls.”
Since then, Kaelynn has had an opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Tacoma Rainiers baseball game and flagged for the Pacific Raceways Sovren vintage race.
Kaelynn and her family also volunteer through their church. Kaelynn works with FCCLA, a group of leaders who work one-on-one with students in elementary schools and teach them about healthy eating. The family has previously worked with Food for Fish and the Salvation Army.
“I like to make a difference,” Kaelynn said.
She said she’s excited to represent Gig Harbor in the upcoming Miss Teen Washington pageant.
“I love Gig Harbor because it’s so beautiful,” Kaelynn said. “I’m excited to represent that.”
The Miss Teen Washington pageant will be held for two days with three sections of competition. The first will be an interview with the judges. The other two involve a swimsuit contest and a evening gown section, both in front of an audience.
Dagley said the bathing suit is not judging what you look like on the outside but rather how you feel in it, and the confidence you portray.
“It’s really important what the girls represent,” Terry said.
Kaelynn recently traveled to Idaho to pick up her dress for the occasion. She said it’s a floor-length gown, but she wanted to keep the details a surprise until the pageant.
“It’s beautiful, and I love it,” Kaelynn said. “It makes me feel like a princess.”
Kaelynn’s mother and grandmother have been supportive through the whole experience, she said.
“I’m having so much fun watching her,” Dagley said. “We get to relive our own crown.”
For the upcoming competition, Kaelynn will need to raise a minimum of $2,000 by October, and her family is selling paintings to benefit the fund. Dagley also is selling candy to help raise money for her daughter. They are currently looking for sponsors and accepting donations, which can be sent to Terry Brengman, 307 26th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor.
Kaelynn also plans to travel to California in January for an IPass event for aspiring actors and models to meet agents.
“It’s like a job fair for agents,” Kaelynn said.
Kaelynn is interested in acting and plans to perform a monologue rendition from the Great Gatsby. She’s also looking to raise money for that trip.
“Thank you so much for the support,” Kaelynn said. “It’s been an amazing experience.”