By ANNALISE FRANK
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Megan Ervin of Rushville, who recently was crowned Miss Illinois, will be making a visit Sunday to Quincy for a party and a parade.
After coming in second in the 2011 Miss Illinois contest, winning the Miss Quincy scholarship pageant in March and finally winning the Miss Illinois pageant June 30, Ervin now must embark on a yearlong tour of more than 300 stops around the state to speak in schools about her new personal platform, "Heptathlon of Healthy Habits," as well as appear in parades, festivals and other events. She'll also make a stop at the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas in January.
Sunday's party, sponsored by Quincy Medical Group and Town and Country Inn and Suites, starts at 2 p.m. in the Imperial Ballroom at Town and Country Inn and Suites, 110 N. 54th St. Hosted by the Miss Illinois Scholarship Association, the event is open to the public for a suggested donation of $5.
Ervin will sign autographs and give a speech on her new seven-element platform, which promotes healthy eating habits, exercise and community service while highlighting the dangers of distracted driving. Her previous platform, childhood obesity, remains her "passion," but Ervin said she's thrilled to expand her objectives.
"My program will be a little more broad now, a more holistic view -- not only fitness, but also spirituality, community service, education," she said.
Shortly before the party Sunday, Ervin will ride in a parade, west down Broadway and east back up Maine before arriving at at the Town and Country Inn and Suites.
Miss Illinois Outstanding Teen, Grace Khachaturian, and Miss Illinois Outstanding Pre-Teen, Maddlie Mazzella, will join Ervin at the event. Both will perform their talents, with Khachaturian dancing and Mazzella singing.
Ervin also will model her Miss Illinois wardrobe and present a picture slideshow of the June 30 pageant.
Quincy Medical Group will screen a commercial made with Ervin to promote healthy living and community service in the Quincy School District. Ervin had partnered with QMG and Miss Quincy's Outstanding Teen, Mackenzie Mahsman, during her time as Miss Quincy, promoting an active lifestyle and offering a free monthly fitness series for children in the community.
Cash donations provided at the event will go toward Ervin's goal of raising $10,000 for the Children's Miracle Network, which raises funds for children's hospitals.
Lindsay Hess, a director with the Miss Quincy scholarship pageant, is planning the event. She encourages people who want to bring gifts for Ervin to buy gas or gift cards to help with all of the appearances she'll be making.
"She won't be able to go to school or have a job," Hess said. "Anytime she's paid for appearances, it's very much appreciated, because she's paying for her own gas and living expenses."
Ervin sees the homecoming party as a way to connect with those who back her locally before she embarks on her new adventure.
"It really is a blessing," she said. "Now that I've won Miss Illinois, the support I've seen has been so overwhelming."