A Mom Walks the Runway as a Role Model
She may not be Mrs. New Hampshire, but to us, Amy Settele is a genuine beauty queen.
The mother of three, hospice volunteer and former health educator said no when organizers of the Mrs. New Hampshire United States Pageant first asked her to compete, but then reconsidered. What a great way to mark her 40th birthday and the 15th anniversary of her MS diagnosis, she decided.
“I wanted to show myself and my kids that no matter what age you are, you can try something outside of your comfort zone. Even if it doesn’t go as you hoped, it’s something to add to your life and a good story to tell,” she said.
Somebody else captured the crown when the pageant was held at Hanscom Air Force Base on May 2, 2009, but Settele was glad for the experience.
“I received the Director’s Choice Award, given to the delegate who shows the most enthusiasm and dedication,” she said. “I mentioned the National MS Society and expressed my sincere thanks for the Society not only taking a special interest in my participation in the pageant, but also for having been a constant source of information and inspiration whenever I have needed it in the years since my diagnosis.”
Settele was diagnosed two months before her marriage to college sweetheart Doug, and her first reaction was relief that her inexplicable symptoms finally were explained. It took a day or two to get scared. Doug was away so she broke the news by phone.
“I don’t think I was too concerned because we had a strong relationship, but there was part of me that was curious how he was going to respond. This was not just my diagnosis, this was our diagnosis,” she recalled.
“His reaction couldn’t have been better. It was, ‘OK, let’s move on from here.’ It was really reassuring. It gave that much more meaning to our vows: For better or worse, in sickness and in health. It resonated more for us.”
Settele went on a disease-modifying drug right away and has done well, but she does experience fatigue and sometimes needs to ask Doug or her mother to watch the kids — the aspect of MS that bothers her most. She liked the fact that Mrs. United States values health but doesn’t require contestants to be fitness freaks.
“I don’t have a hard-core routine. I probably go once or twice a week to the gym. Exercise is the most fun for me when it just happens, like playing WIFFLE® ball or boogie boarding with the kids,” she said.
“They spend a lot of time in a personal interview asking what makes you you, and about your family. It celebrates marriage, it celebrates women and their husbands, and women getting older — not just 20-something-year-olds.”
For all those reasons, Settele thinks her runway debut was good role modeling for her daughter — and all women and girls impacted by MS.
“Don’t feel limited,” she said. “I have MS but I don’t think about it every single day, I think about it when I have to. I really don’t have much time to think about it sometimes because I have a family and they have their needs too, and that keeps me upbeat.”
WIFFLE is a registered trademark of The Wiffle Ball, Inc.