February 8, 2016

Wisconsin’s Miss America gives up her crown

Not a Packers fans? There’s another Wisconsin-flavored national event you can watch tonight. Kenosha’s Laura Kaeppeler (kepp-ler) will pass on her crown to the next Miss America in a pageant that starts at 7:00 on ABC.

The 24-year-old Kaeppeler is finishing her one-year reign, after spending 340 days meeting celebrities, helping charities, and representing all that Miss America stands for.

Kaeppeler’s father spent a 1 1/2 years in prison for mail fraud when she was in high school — and her platform was to show support for youngsters like her. She said the Miss America program taught her that people can accomplish anything they set their minds to, regardless of their past. Kaeppeler plans to go to law school and keep working with charities, including one she created — Circles of Support, a mentoring group for children of incarcerated parents.

During last year’s pageant in Las Vegas, Kaeppeler professed her love for the Packers and asked Aaron Rodgers to call her. He didn’t, but they met a few weeks later at a Milwaukee Bucks game. Kaeppeler won’t be able to watch the Packer game at the Las Vegas pageant, but during her moments off stage, she hopes to get the score and highlights on her laptop.

Wisconsin’s new contestant in the pageant is UW La Crosse graduate Kate Gorman. Her platform is attacking childhood hunger. Kaeppeler is only the second Miss America from Wisconsin. The first was Terry Ann Meeuwsen, De Pere, in 1973, who went on to co-host the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club. She’s also an author and singer.

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