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Mrs. Nevada: one woman’s journey

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Chad Lundquist Nevada Appeal Mrs. Nevada contestant Minda Dwyer tries on outfits at Macy's Department store in February. The competition requires a swim suit, an evening gown and a red dress.
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For years Froland has kidded Minda Dwyer about entering the pageant, seeing something in her friend that Dwyer refuses to see in herself. Then in October, Froland took matters into her own hands and filled out the entry form.

“She called me and started asking really personal questions like my height and weight and when I finally asked her what it was for, she told me it was for the entry form,” Dwyer said.

Froland said, “Her husband and I have always thought she would be the perfect representative for Mrs. Nevada. The pageant is about commitment to family and marriage and she exemplifies that.”

Dwyer and her husband have been married for 24 years, have six biological children and recently adopted their seventh child, a 3-year-old girl named Lina, from Hubei, China.

“She is pretty much the best mother in the world. It’s always been our passion to be a family. This, this is way out of her comfort zone. She is so modest that doing this is a big stretch for her,” said husband, Chris Dwyer.

With Dwyer grudgingly on board, Froland begins seeking out sponsors while Dwyer prepares to get in shape and gather what she needs for the competition.

Contestants in the pageant submit an application along with a $50 application fee and a $500 sponsorship fee. Sponsors will also be needed to pay hotel, airfare and meals during the competition as well as to buy clothing.

During the contest, Dwyer will compete in three sections: swimsuit, evening gown and interview. During the evening gown portion, Dwyer will be escorted by her husband, dressed in a matching tuxedo.

First on Dwyer’s list – tone her body and lose a little weight with the help of two of her sponsors: Eagle Fitness and personal trainer Dave Kuzirian.

“I don’t know what we will end up with because we are pushing so hard. She’s a small lady, but she’s got a huge heart and she hasn’t missed a workout,” Kuzirian said.

Dwyer begins a workout regime of weights and cardio, spending an hour and a half, seven days a week, at the gym.

Not even a sprained groin muscle can curb her enthusiasm or her workout intensity. The regime also means changes to her diet and almost the total elimination of carbs, including her favorite food, noodles and cheese sauce.

As the body improves it does little to strengthen Dwyer’s self-proclaimed biggest worry – how is she going to go on-stage in a bathing suit?

Shop till you drop

“I look like Betty from the Flintstones. This one is definitely out,” Dwyer said.

With her workout routine going well and the pageant just over a month away, it’s time to find the swimsuit and evening gown. Dwyer also needs a red outfit to wear during the opening ceremonies. Froland and Dwyer hope to complete their shopping in one trip, heading to Macy’s in Reno.

The pair decides first to focus on the evening gown, avoiding the outfit she is dreading most, the swimsuit.

“My children will be at this competition and that one scares me a lot,” Dwyer said.

From the first batch of dresses, only one makes the cut, a shimmering green dress by Linda Berneol, price tag $96, four others are immediately discarded.

After scouring the store a second time, another dress makes the cut, white and black and strapless the Jessica McClintock dress is priced at $208.

“This is so odd, my prom dress was a Jessica McClintock,” Dwyer said.

The pair is torn with Froland lobbying for the McClintock and Dwyer leaning toward the Berneol.

“I really like (the McClintock) but with straps, I want straps,” Dwyer said.

With the decision in sight, it’s time to take on the swimsuit.

“Finding a swimsuit she liked was actually pretty easy, but finding a wrap to put around it has been harder,” Froland said. “We are looking for things that she likes and makes her feel good on the inside because then it will project on the outside.”

After discarding one for giving her “an elephant butt,” and another because she looked like she was wearing a diaper, Dwyer settles on one she likes, called a miracle suit with a price tag of $120, and finds a wrap, sun glasses and a hat to match, for a total of $1,000 to dress Dwyer for the pageant.

The session brings to light another problem, one that requires time to correct, time that is becoming harder and harder to come by.

“Walking in high heels could be a problem. My tennis shoes are my high heels,” Dwyer said. “I wore high heels, um, at my wedding, so it’s been a while.”

Too late to back out now

“Do you think you are pretty and why?”

It’s less than two weeks until the pageant, Dwyer and Froland are practicing for the interview with a list of potential questions provided by the pageant.

This query is causing Dwyer specific trouble, as she can’t think of an answer that isn’t sarcastic.

“I don’t like this question, that is such a horrible question to ask a woman. That’s like asking a guy if he thinks he’s hot,” Dwyer said. “You’d have to ask my husband to answer this one. He thinks that no one on earth compares to me. He loves me, I just always know he does.”

The session allows Froland’s daughter Samantha Brotcke, 19, to do a trial run on Dwyer’s hair and makeup. Brotcke hopes for a subtle look for the interview and a more elegant and classy style for on-stage. Dwyer has only minimal input.

“Lots of makeup for the bags under my eyes, got to work on those,” Dwyer said with a smile.

Her nervousness increases with each day marked off the calendar. Her workout has is a success. She looks is the way she wants. Her outfits are packed.

She admits she is more nervous than ever, but takes comfort in the fact that her friends and family are behind her and believe in her.

“Of all the people I talked to and told them I was doing this, they were all very supportive. Not one of them was like, ‘why would you want to do that?'”

She admits that when she steps on that plane bound for Las Vegas at 5 a.m. Friday, fear will be her primary emotion. Not to mention is comes the morning after she takes two midterms for her real estate license.

For the devoted mother who loves watching her children play hockey and is working toward her real estate license, these next 48 hours may be the most terrifying of her life.

“I try to stay positive and look at the bright side, but this makes me very nervous,” she said.

“She will be wonderful. She is a fabulous mom, a fabulous wife and an absolutely fabulous friend,” Froland said. “I admire her and the way she lives her life.”

Dwyer said, “I’ve learned a lot doing this. There have been some stresses but for me it’s something new. It’s a challenge and I’ve come to enjoy it.”

Then a more terrifying thought crosses Dwyer’s mind. “What if I win.”

“When she wins it will be disbelief. She will be totally surprised,” Chris Dwyer said. “That’s just how she is.”

— Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

Mrs. Nevada

WHAT: The 2006 Mrs. Nevada Pageant is scheduled for

SATURDAY at the Paradise Church, 2525 Emerson Ave. in Las Vegas. Twenty women from across the state will compete to succeed Mrs. Nevada United States 2005 Sandie Boyadjian.

WHO: Contestants for the pageant must be at least 21 years of age and living with their husbands. Contestants also write a letter describing why their husband should win the Husband of the Year Award.

WHY: The winner receives a prize package and entry fee into the Mrs. United States Pageant, held in September.

“This is a way to show that married women can be glamorous. It’s not about having the best body, it’s about being proud of who you are,” Pageant Executive Director Lori Lawlor said.