This August, the mission of Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF) is headed to Las Vegas — all thanks to Mrs. Minnesota.
Brandi DeVries was crowned Mrs. Minnesota America 2023 in June and has chosen CCRF as her organization to highlight throughout the next year. On Aug. 26, DeVries will take CCRF to the big stage when she competes in Mrs. America 2023 in Las Vegas, Nev.
DeVries is a longtime supporter of CCRF and an even longer participant in pageantry. Growing up, she’d watch televised pageants with her mother. “Somewhere out there is a picture of me from my childhood wearing a visor with ‘Future Beauty Queen’ on it,” she said. “And apparently I really wanted to make that happen.”
As a young girl, DeVries was shy and nervous, but competing in pageants brought her out of her shell. She credits pageantry to the development of crucial skills like interviewing and speaking, confidence, determination and the ability to handle criticism.
After winning Miss North Dakota USA in 2011, DeVries took a break from competing to focus on a career in the Twin Cities. It was during this time that she was introduced to CCRF, setting the scene for her eventual position as a founding board member for CCRF’s Soar Leadership Council in 2016. Soar is an “emerging leaders” group with a focus on fundraising for emerging scientists.
“Before getting involved with CCRF, I wasn’t aware how underfunded childhood cancer is, even though it’s the leading cause of death [by disease] for children,” DeVries said. “It’s devastating because these children are our future. There are researchers out there with great ideas who shouldn’t be deterred from doing good work just because they don’t have the funding.”
DeVries' nonprofit work has now spanned to other branches of CCRF. This past year, she sat on the committee for the 2023 Dream Gala while raising over $7,000 through other fundraising CCRF initiatives like Great Cycle Challenge. DeVries appreciates that these opportunities have brought likeminded people together to make an impact and help families.
“The more stories I heard and researching I did, the more I wanted to get involved and help be a part of funding that will hopefully save a child’s life someday,” she said.
If DeVries is crowned Mrs. America this year, she hopes to use the larger platform to bring wider visibility to CCRF’s mission and encourage others to help make a difference for families affected by childhood cancer.
“Don’t wait. Take action,” DeVries said. “Children and families affected by cancer don’t choose this path. But we as a community can choose to support CCRF, support families and support programs. And that’s impactful.”