Burnaby NOW reporter Jennifer Moreau spent some time chatting with Cecilia Ferreira, also known as Miss Teen Burnaby. The 18-year-old is off to Toronto with 70 other B.C. contestants, in hopes of becoming Miss Teen Canada-World.
Throughout her pageant work, Cecilia has been encouraging people to become organ donors, a cause that's literally close to her heart.
Jennifer Moreau: Please introduce yourself.
Cecilia Ferreira: Hi, my name is Cecilia Ferreira and I'm recently known as "Miss Teen Burnaby." I'm a normal teenager who loves to sing, act, dance and have fun with my friends and family.
JM: Where do you stand right now in this beauty pageant?
CF: Currently I am holding the title of "Miss Teen Burnaby - World 2012." When the other girls and I arrive in Toronto in July, our titles will be taken away, and we will all be given the same title of "Miss British Columbia" until further titles are awarded.
JM: What work are you doing about organ donations with respect to the pageant?
CF: As organ donation is my platform, I am starting to contact and work with the Organ Transplant Society in order to raise awareness of the need and importance of organ donation.
JM: Why did you pick this cause?
CF: I had decided to use organ donation as my platform because it is a cause that is very important to me. I became an organ recipient when I received my heart transplant on July 31, 2006. I believe that even the smallest acts of kindness can save a life.
JM: Tell us a bit about your experience. I understand you were not expected to live as a child?
CF: I was born with a congenital heart defect, which required numerous surgeries and procedures in the hopes to repair my damaged heart. From the moment I was born, I had fought for my life. Therefore, I grew up differently then my peers. I was never able to fully participate in physical activities, and most of my days were spent in the hospital. I had begun going into organ shutdown when I was 13 and had travelled to Toronto to await a transplant. I was given a second chance at life, and every day I am thankful for all that I have.
JM: So you have another person's heart beating beneath your ribs? What does that feel like?
CF: It has been five years since my transplant, and to this day, I still marvel at the thought of having another person's heart. At first that feeling was surreal.
I had been so overcome with mixed emotions that, for a time, I didn't know how to explain it. I had overwhelming happiness yet I also had the feeling of sadness, for I had come to the realization that someone had to die for me to live.
As time passed and I continued living my life, I lost that overwhelming sense of guilt and sadness. Yes, someone had to die in order for me to live, but my donor must have loved their life so much that they had decided to share it if the time had ever come. I view the aspect as having my donor's heart as a constant reminder of the blessing I have been given and as motivation to achieve as much as I can with the second chance I have been given.
JM: Do you know anything about the donor?
CF: Unfortunately, I only have limited knowledge about my donor and their family. Out of confidentiality, neither my family or theirs were given any information about one another until I had decided to write my donor family a letter, a letter to express my unending gratitude and love.
It was an emotional time for my family and I when we had unexpectedly received one back. The letter was very sincere and contained little but valuable information about the donor. I learned that she had loved and lived life to the fullest, and that she had never been sick a day in her life. Through the letter I had discovered her family's wish for me: it was to keep their loved one's heart of gold beating strong within myself as I continue my journey in life.
JM: How does one become an organ donor?
CF: There are many ways to become an organ donor, one may choose to visit their doctor and ask for further information regarding the process of obtaining the donor cards and becoming a registered donor. One may also look online for more information. One site that is particularly useful and informative about the process is the B.C. Transplant Society. (Go to www. transplant.bc.ca.)
JM: What's the next step with the beauty pageant? CF: The next step in regards to the "Miss Teen World Canada 2012" pageant is to continue to raise awareness of my title and platform in the community. I am also planning various fundraisers in the hopes of raising money for the charity Free the Children. I am also seeking sponsors to help me raise the money that is needed for me to travel to Toronto and take part in the pageant.
JM: What would you say to people who criticize beauty pageants as sexist spectacles that objectify women? CF: I would say to those people that the women who are delegates in these pageants are there on their own free will. Also to be accepted in pageants, each delegate must exemplify a role model for society and must possess admirable qualities and traits. Pageants not only push one to their limits in regards to their beauty and physicality, but they challenge each contestant to achieve the best they can, using their own individual sets of strengths and abilities.
JM: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
CF: I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me throughout my life and has continued to support me. If anyone would like to follow me on my journey as I prepare for Miss Teen World Canada in July feel free to "like" my Facebook page http: // on.fb.me/MissTeenBurnaby or follow me on Twitter at @ MissTeenBurnaby.
I would also like to encourage everyone to sign a donor card, for I believe that even the smallest acts of kindness can save a life.