Heather Riley took home the title of Miss Congeniality at this year’s Miss Long Island Pageant held at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts on Sunday.
A 2008 Riverhead graduate, Ms. Riley, 22, said the win – voted on by contestants in the pageant – came as a complete surprise, and that she was happy to have the support of the other girls.
“I think it means they all felt comfortable around me. They would come up to you and ask you for help or advice,” Ms. Riley said. “That was really exciting for me.”
This was not Ms. Riley’s first step into the spotlight; she has been working as a model since age 16. It was, however, her first time competing in a pageant.
“I was nervous before I got on stage, however once I got out there, I just felt like it was an elegant fashion show,” Ms. Riley said. “It was nice because everyone’s screaming for you.”
She said friends and family provided all the support she needed for everything in the pageant. She even borrowed a gown from a close friends — former Miss Albany International.
For her platform she decided to support Strength for Life, a non-profit that works to help cancer patients enhance their recovery process through exercise. She secured donations of mats, balls and other workout gear the non-profit could use.
Overall, she said the pageant was a great experience and is looking into other pageant opportunities for the future.
“It’s one of those things where you get hooked,” Ms. Riley said. “I would definitely do it again.”