In her 17 years of life, Rylie Dewley has accomplished much. In June, the Grand Blanc teen was selected as Miss Michigan’s Outstanding Teen 2021. The creator of Start Heart Smart (spreading awareness of heart disease) and a talented baton twirler, Rylie is the daughter of John and Tiffany Dewley and a senior at Grand Blanc High School where she is a majorette with the school’s marching band.
Since she was a little girl, Rylie has dreamed of being crowned Miss America. And she is well on her way to making that dream a reality. Competing in pageants since she was ten years old, she has already won other pageants including Miss Sunset Coast Outstanding Teen, Miss Lake Erie Outstanding Teen and Miss Washtenaw County Outstanding Teen. And she’s not stopping now! Most recently, she traveled to Orlando at the end of July to compete in the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageant. “I’m so excited!” Rylie exclaimed. “It’s really cool. Each state and Washington, D.C. has a representative.”
“I’ve met so many talented women.
It is an amazing experience.”
A typical pageant has four phases of competition: Interview (when participants speak about their platform), Fitness Routine, Talent, and Evening Gown. During the evening gown phase, the contestants answer unrehearsed questions while on stage. “It puts you on the spot,” she says.
Rylie’s platform – the cause she chose to highlight – is the program she created, Start Heart Smart, which educates kids about heart disease. “While growing up, I had some heart issues,” she shares, explaining that she had two holes in her heart and a heart murmur. When she was age five, however, her cardiologist told her the holes in her heart had closed and she could return to living a normal life. But when she was 13, she had a teen heart test that revealed new issues. Rylie was re-diagnosed with a heart murmur and mitral insufficiency. “My heart is not able to pump blood to my body the way it should,” she says. “Right now, there is nothing they can do but in the future, I may have to have a valve replacement.”
Through the Start Heart Smart program, Rylie speaks to other teens all around Michigan about her experience with heart disease. She also started a program called Cares for Cardiac, which raises funds for care packages that are donated to kids at Hurley Medical Center, University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital and also to the Washtenaw County Courts. The care packages contain a teddy bear, different heart-themed gifts and a little note from Rylie to let the patients know she is thinking about them.
Rylie’s talent is, of course, baton-twirling. She started taking lessons at age five with a group in Davison and then switched to Twirl-M’s Baton Twirling in Walled Lake. She attends competitions and is still taking lessons there.
Being crowned Miss Michigan’s Outstanding Teen means a lot to the young woman. “I was shocked!” she exclaims. “Having all the hard work pay off is so amazing. The other contestants were so talented, so I was really surprised with the results.” She credits much of her success to the support from her extended family. “My mom, dad, siblings and step-parents have all helped me get to where I am today,” she admits. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Right now, Rylie is looking forward and excited to be competing in Orlando. “I’ve been doing this since I was ten years old!” she exclaims. “I’ve met so many talented women. It is an amazing experience.”
Photos provided by Lindsay King Portraits