How many pageant queens drive full-size trucks? Well, at least one.
"And, we typically don't wash it," Orelia Rhodes said with a laugh.
The 20-year-old is a pageant queen several times over, with recent wins at the Gold Coast Pageant and Miss Super Model California State.
Rhodes graduated from Dos Palos High School in 2009 and moved to Los Banos earlier this year with her mother and sister. " just needed a little bit of a change," Rhodes said. "I grew up in Dos Palos; my entire family is from Dos Palos."
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Rhodes competes 10 to 15 times a year in pageants around the state, but she has her eyes set on Miss California USA in January, a precursor to Donald Trump's Miss USA. She's not in school -- pageants and modeling take up all her time -- but she hopes to make room for it in the new year.
One of her first contests was the Miss May Day Pageant in 2008.
"It was mainly just a fun thing at that time," Rhodes said. "Now, I'm very passionate about it."
She said her parents are now "pageant parents," with double-sided tape and hair extensions always at the ready.
In 2008, Rhodes sold the pig she raised for competition at the Merced County Spring Fair for $13,000. She gave the money to the American Cancer Society, her other passion.
"I go around to the local hospitals and try to put on fundraisers for the families that are struggling financially," Rhodes said.
Suzanne Palazzo of Dos Palos said her children went to school with Rhodes. She described Rhodes as conscientious, warm and having a wonderful personality. "She just really has a great heart," Palazzo said.
Rhodes has been passionate about volunteering with children since high school, Palazzo said, and she's willing to help anybody.
Rhodes said she's lost many of the children to cancer, but she remains undeterred. "I'm just looking to do volunteer work here and continue that here in Los Banos," Rhodes said.
Pageants are also a good place to build self-confidence, Rhodes said, and be an example for young girls. "A lot of people aren't given the opportunity, and I'm very thankful," Rhodes said. "I would like to share that with the community."
Rhodes is looking for sponsors in Los Banos for her run at the Miss California USA crown. She asked those interested to contact the pageant's directors at (310) 275-3349, or by email at email@example.com.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.