At 32 years old, Chesterfield resident Adelaida Peterson is what many would call an accomplished woman.
Peterson is married, with three children, has published several children's books and co-owns a photography studio, Essence Photography, with her husband, Mark.
But Peterson is on a mission she has always felt passionate about: to end human trafficking.
A native of the Philippines, Peterson said there was a big human-trafficking problem there. When she came to the United States she saw an opportunity to do something about it.
That something came about last year, when Peterson heard of the Mrs. America beauty pageant.
Mrs. America is a national competition for married women 18 years of age and older.
Peterson, who was crowned Mrs. Chesterfield in June, said she saw the pageant as an opportunity to improve her lifestyle and promote her cause.
“I used to be a little overweight before and had issues with high blood pressure,” Peterson said. “I decided to take the path of healthy living and eating right. Later I realized I was confident enough that I wanted to try out the beauty pageant and promote my platform.”
Peterson, however, was also a candidate to represent Missouri in the Mrs. International Pageant — a different contest with similar rules as Mrs. America.
She was crowned Mrs. Missouri International on Friday. She will compete with 81 other women from other states and other countries for the title of 2013 Mrs. International on July 19-20, 2013 in Chicago.
Part of the criteria judges look for in choosing a Mrs. Missouri International winner is a contestant who has a strong social cause to promote.
“I always knew human-trafficking was a dear issue to me, that part was easy,” Peterson said. “Since I have never done this before, the hardest part was to learn how walk in a pageant, the interview process, the public speaking.”
Peterson said she hopes other Chesterfield residents and Missourians will support her throughout her journey. She said she plans on many fundraisers of which the money will go directly to support her cause against human trafficking.
On Sept. 29, Peterson will run a 5k to benefit International Crisis Aid's Safe Campaign.
“Anything to promote awareness, advocacy, to get others to take action,” Peterson said.
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