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Platform for donations paves road to crown

Kimberly Kolinski wants to be Miss America. After being voted Miss Seminole 2002 last week, she’s one step closer to the crown.

The Miss Seminole title guarantees Kolinski a spot in the Miss Florida Pageant, and if all goes well on the state level, the next stop is the Miss America stage in Atlantic City.

But it’s not the glamour or the fame that Kolinski is looking for. All she really wants is to tell the nation about a cause that’s close to her heart.

“As Miss America, I want to stand up on Capitol Hill and speak about organ and tissue donation,” she said.

Kolinski, a USF senior majoring in communications, serves as a board member for the National Organization for Transplant Enlightenment. The subject is her platform, a topic Kolinski speaks about in competitions, but the cause is also a “true passion” in Kolinski’s everyday life.

That passion, Kolinski said, was realized when a friend died of a heart attack at the age of 18, and his parents donated his corneas.

Kolinski calls her platform “The Gift of Life: Organ and Tissue Donation.”

The platform interview conducted in front of the judging panel is only one element to a pageant. Kolinski also competed in a swimsuit, evening gown and talent competition, where she performed “A New Life” from the musical Jekyll and Hyde.

Cathy Kolinski, Kimberly’s mother, said her daughter has something special that shows in competition.

“I think she’s got a warm personality that’s conveyed to the judges,” she said. “She also really believes in her platform. I think they can see that she truly believes in what she’s doing. As a mom, I think she has a stage presence that seems to come across.”

The Miss Seminole 2002 title earned Kolinski $2,600. In 2001, Kolinski won $4,000 as third runner-up in the Miss Florida pageant.

Kimberly’s success in pageants has paid for much of her college education, her mother said.

“At one time, I had three children in college at the same time, so it’s been a great help,” Mrs. Kolinski said.

Kolinski was also named Miss Seminole 2000. At 24, this year was her last year for eligibility in the contest.

She is also a Bucs cheerleader and appears as Miss October in the team’s 2002 calendar.

Between Miss Seminole appearances, board meetings, cheerleading practices and school, Kolinski says she’s busy but happy.

“It’s stressful,” she said. “But I wouldn’t want it any other way.”Kolinski leaves today for a 20-day tour of the Middle East. She and several other Bucs cheerleaders will be entertaining military personnel in Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan.

“The U.S. military invited us, and our safety is their No. 1 priority,” she said, explaining her relaxed attitude toward the trip.

“I trust the military, and we have to stick to what’s going on over there. We have to wear long sleeves. It’s not going to be glamorous.”

  • Contact Rachel Pleasant at