By Kate Quesada

Apollo Beach resident Teresa Hyatt will be representing her home town at the Mrs. Florida International Pageant in Orlando later this year, but the awareness her title brings is more important to her than a crown. Hyatt’s 17-year-old son, Joseph was diagnosed with cancer last year and she has also lost her mother, father and brother to the disease so she is now using her pageant platform to educate and raise awareness about the importance of early detection.

“The International Pageant is so much more than a beauty pageant,” said Hyatt who has been competing in pageants for several years. “I selected the International system because it has been developed to help promote today’s married women, their accomplishments and commitment to family and marriage.”

The pageant, which Hyatt is attending as Mrs. Apollo Beach, is made up of an interview portion, which is 50 percent of the score, aerobic wear/physical fitness and evening gown portions which each count for a quarter.

“I do not consider myself a beauty queen,” said Hyatt, who has been married to her husband Don for 23 years and has two other sons, Jacob and Michael. “I consider myself a mom on a mission fighting to keep my family cancer free and help educate others on the importance of early detection and how it can save your life.”

Hyatt is also a National Representative, Advocate and Spokesperson with the American Cancer Society, positions she uses to raise funds and awareness. She works closely with schools, bringing melanoma awareness to children who participate in PE outdoors, participates in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Relay for Life, St. Jude Walk and Run and Light the Night for Lymphoma.

“I have already had people come to me and say ‘Because of you I got that mammogram and caught my breast cancer in early stages,’” said Hyatt. “Before my seminar, some of the people never even knew what melanoma was, but one took her son to get his moles checked after hearing me speak.”

She is now committed to helping people learn the signs for Hodgkin Lymphoma, the disease her son is fighting.

“This is why I do what I do. I want to defeat cancer and help others win their fight,” she said. “This pageant and title, if I was to win Mrs. Florida International 2018, would open more doors for me to make a difference throughout the state. If I save just one life by spreading awareness, I am making a difference.”

Visit www.floridainternationalpageants.com.