Having the title of Miss Ponte Vedra Beach provides a platform to help others, and Natasha Gisela doesn’t take that lightly.
Gisela, who will compete in the Miss Florida U.S.A. pageant next month, acted as the master of ceremonies for the Cocktails for a Cause fundraiser Friday night at Seachasers in Jacksonville Beach. The event raised money to help 2-year-old Kat, who is battling leukemia and is being treated at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Gisela said the cause was particularly important to her because she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer shortly after graduating high school.
“Unfortunately, cancer brought us together, so now we’re just beating cancer together,” Gisela said. “No child should be living with cancer.”
Gisela was asked to assist with the benefit by her hair sponsor Hair Diva Lounge, which found out about Kat through her grandmother, who is a Hair Diva client. Hair Diva Lounge partnered with Beach Soul to organize and hold Friday’s fundraiser.
“It’s really important to raise awareness, not only for leukemia, but all cancers,” Gisela said.
The pageant title holder also feels passionately about her own cause, “Confidently Healthy,” which promotes health in mind, body and spirit.
The pageant queen said promoting a healthy body image is near and dear to her heart. Gisela went from a size 18 to a size 4-6, but said she wants women to embrace health over appearance and to be comfortable in all shapes and sizes.
“Being beautiful is not all about appearance,” Gisela said. “It’s about being confident, and the confidence comes from within and that confidence is health.”
She said she personally understands the struggles women go through when it comes to body image, especially young women and girls.
“I was actually trying on dresses at the Town Center, and I saw these 14-year-olds, all different shapes, all different ethnicities, and I remember being that age … I was so lost,” Gisela said. “Being the curviest woman in my class, I was lost, and I saw these young women, different bodies, different shapes, and they didn’t really know who they were, and I was able to relate to them. I just want to show that and represent that throughout my time (as Miss Ponte Vedra Beach).”
Gisela will compete in the Miss Florida U.S.A. pageant Dec. 14-17 in Tampa, and thinks the fact she’s a first-generation Floridian would make a win even more special.
“That’s why I want to represent Florida on a national stage, “Gisela said. “I told my mom the other day, ‘I’ve been to 20 countries and there’s nothing better than the Southern sky,’ and she said, ‘That’s because this is home.’”
She also feels her title as Miss Ponte Vedra Beach was meant to be. Gisela’s grandmother was from Pontevedra, Spain.
“Ponte Vedra Beach, we’re known for our hospitality, we’re known for our love of golf, we’re known for our beaches, and for me, as a title holder, I see the beauty in that,” Gisela said. “To represent this community, I’m truly honored.”