Samantha Swayze has spent more than 700 hours volunteering and raised more than $4,000 for the Susan G. Komen’s Puget Sound Race for a Cure, and she’s just turned 13.
Swayze knew from the time she was 5 she wanted to be a princess, but she had no idea the impact of using her crown could help to fight cancer.
The Goodman Middle School seventh-grader was crowned Queen for a Cure Supreme Princess last year at the benefit pageant.
The QFAC pageant and program was founded in 2009 by Washington state residents Victoria Knight and Kennedy Miller after a pageant friend’s mother died of breast cancer.
The co-founders wanted to raise money to donate to breast cancer research and inspire others to do the same.
Queens for a Cure raises money with its benefit pageant. The added Supreme title encourages participants to go to their communities and raise funds. All proceeds go to the Puget Sound Race for the Cure.
Swayze raised the second-highest total last year at $1,600. She has since spent her year-long reign continuing to raise money for the cause and has topped $4,000.
“I got involved with Queens for a Cure after hearing about it from (co-founder) Kennedy while I was at another pageant,” Swayze said.
“My friend Hailey’s mom had breast cancer,” she added. “Her mom is like a second mom to me. I thought the QFAC pageant was a great way to get involved to promote breast cancer awareness and help fight the disease.”
Swayze’s mother, Karen, said a major draw was that her family could be involved.
“Everyone is impacted by cancer at sometime in their life,” Karen said.
QFAC was the top team at the Susan G. Komen Puget Sound Race for a Cure this past summer. It raise more than $27,500 in one afternoon.
Samantha first got involved with QFAC in 2011, when she was crowned Royal Princess after she raised $500. She got to walk in the race with other pageant winners.
“After that, I was hooked to work for a Supreme title,” she said.
Gig Harbor residents may have had Samantha knock at their doors or seen her in front of a store in her sash and crown. For at least three hours three times a week, the teen has taken to neighborhoods and gone door-to-door, and she’s asked for donations on the Cure’s behalf.
“Getting people past the idea that QFAC is not like (the TV show) ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ that has given pageants a bad image is a challenge,” Samantha said. “When they do hear what I am doing (raising money for cancer), many people are impressed with the community outreach and donate.
“It can be hard to keep going in the cold, and when there are lots of ‘no’s, and I know my friends are out doing something fun, but I think about the what I am doing to help people and keep going,” she said.
Karen said she’s proud of her daughter.
“She’s the type of person when she has a mind set on something, she will do it,” she said. “At her age, I think it’s amazing what she has done. I admire her being so poised on stage, speaking in public and the courage to go door-to-door to talk about breast cancer and try and raise money. As an adult, I don’t think I could even do it.”
The Swayzes have been touched by the people they have met and stories they have heard around the Sound.
“People are survivors,” Karen said.
Samantha will crown her successor on Nov. 2 during the fifth annual Queens for a Cure benefit Pageant at the Renton IKEA Theater.
She hopes to continue on with the program by being named the Queen of Queens, the title awarded to the royalty member who has raised the most money and used the crown and sash to promote breast cancer awareness best during the reign.
“It’s a friendly competition,” Samantha said. “We all know that what we do helps the community and the cause, so it’s a double win. I have 13 sister-like relationships with all of the girls. If I don’t get the Queen of Queen title, I know a dear friend will.”
The teen’s goal is to raise another $2,000 for Race for a Cure if she earns the Queens of Queen’s title. If not, Samantha plans to compete in the next pageant for a division title to keep raising awareness and funds.
“This has been Samantha’s endeavor,” Karen said. “I just help with the logistics. She has given up a lot to follow through with her reign and do what she can for the cause.”
“It’s been worth it,” Samantha said.
For more information, visit www.komenpugetsound.org. Click the personal section for Samantha Swayze under the QFAC page.