The same year Morgan resident McKenna Lynn Hales was named Miss Rodeo Utah, her grandfather, Jan Hales, was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer. “While he has exceeded the doctor’s expectations, life as I knew it with Grandpa will never be the same,” said Makenna, daughter of Ron and Becky Russell Hales.
It was a natural fit that Makenna made cancer awareness and prevention her official platform. Now wearing the crown as Miss Rodeo Utah 2017, she spreads her cancer awareness message throughout the state and even beyond.
“As Miss Rodeo Utah I wanted to be able to make a difference, and impact the lives of those who have, who are, and who will have to deal with this deadly disease. My year will be spent spreading a message of hope and support that reaches beyond the rodeo arena to families and fans across Utah,” McKenna said. “In order to do my part, I have teamed with the American Cancer Society to help me build my platform on cancer awareness and prevention. Together, we will make a difference!”
Working in partnership with the American Cancer Society, McKenna’s year will be spent helping to improve Utah’s poor cancer screening rates, educate about prevention, and promote ACS programs and events. She has already made Subway sandwiches alongside several Utah college coaches during her reign to bring public attention to cancer.
Despite her new semi-celebrity status, she still needs your help.
On March 9, McKenna will be holding a Kick Cancer Hoedown fundraising event, 6:30-9 p.m. at the Shepherd Union Building Ballroom at Weber State University in Ogden.
Join McKenna for a fun night as she introduces her partnership with the American Cancer Society to improve Utah cancer screening rates and help promote ACS programs and events! All proceeds go to support McKenna in her efforts. Under 12 are free. Golf-cart parking shuttle provided to and from Union Building. There will also be refreshments, entertainment, line dance instruction and a silent auction.
You can help not only by purchasing tickets in advance at MRU2017.gesture.com and attending the event, but also by contributing auction items such as services, gift certificates or vouchers. Already, a four-night Deer Valley family vacation stay is up for grabs.
Other Morgan natives will be helping McKenna in her efforts. The Kick Cancer Hoedown will feature performances by K&C’s Fab5 pro dance team “Addiction.” The Whitear sisters who made up the original Fab 5 were raised in Morgan County and found fame on America’s Got Talent in 2009. Sisters include LaChere, Shaundalee, Ayrion, Cambria and Veva, five daughters of Craig and Valerie.
In front of a sold-out crowd during the final performance of Ogden’s Pioneer Days Rodeo on July 25, 2016, McKenna was crowned Miss Rodeo Utah 2017. McKenna was also awarded the horsemanship, appearance, speech, personality and photogenic awards as part of the tough week-long competition.
Miss Rodeo Utah symbolizes the young women of Utah who want to promote the sport of rodeo that stands for family, hard work, values and commitment. She represents Utah at the Miss Rodeo America Pageant. She also travels throughout Utah appearing at rodeos and western-oriented events.
McKenna, known for being secretly speedy, is also an avid outdoor enthusiast, enjoying many adventures Utah is famous for including hiking, skiing and snowmobiling. From a very young age, McKenna’s kind and compassionate nature kindled her love for animals, which later developed into a passion for all things equine. As a member of the 2015 UHSRA National Team, McKenna was an integral part of Utah’s National Championship, along with finishing as the Silver State International Pole Bending Champion the same year.
Currently attending Brigham Young University, Provo, McKenna plans to apply to the nursing program following her reign as Miss Rodeo Utah.
“If cancer hasn’t affected your life, it’s only a matter of time before it will,” McKenna said. “It’s time to kick cancer!”