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Miss Illinois makes dancing encore

Published: Monday, March 31, 2014 9:27 a.m. CDT
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Erica Benson-ebenson@shawmedia.com Ms. Illinois Brittany Smith of Elmhurst performs an Irish dance at Park Place Friday March 14 2014.

ELMHURST – When Miss Illinois visited Park Place in October, the residents enjoyed her so much they invited her back.

Brittany Smith, 24, of Elmhurst returned this month to showcase her Irish side at the retirement community.

“I am more Italian than I am Irish,” Smith admitted.

Her fast-paced dance routine elicited applause and cheers from the Park Place residents who came to watch.

“I was really close with my Papa,” said Smith, explaining why she’s considering a career in geriatrics.

While she spends much of her time speaking to children of all ages at schools and events, Smith admits she especially enjoys visits with seniors.

“The more I’ve spent time with older adults, the more I’ve enjoyed it,” Smith said.

When the new Miss Illinois is crowned in June, Smith plans to use the scholarship she’s earned through the Miss Illinois Scholarship Association to attend graduate school to be a physician assistant.

“I was amazed that she’s not letting this just define her,” Anne Adona said. “She’s going on to do other things.”

While she’s not a resident, Adona comes to Park Place for rehabilitation services and always takes advantage of the facilities programs.

Adona said her friends were happy she talked them into joining her for Smith’s performance.

Aside from her Irish dance, Smith described some of her social platforms, which include keeping older adults active, and her experience at the Miss America Pageant in September.

Adona asked if it was at all like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” and Smith said absolutely not. In fact, Smith plans on standing up in Miss Arkansas’ wedding as a bridesmaid along with Miss America and Miss West Virginia.

“She’s excellent in front of people, and she has a lot of poise,” said Roger Groenboom after Smith answered several questions from the audience.

Other audience members seemed equally impressed with Smith. Fay Widholm, 89, commented on Smith’s charming personality and public speaking skills.

Smith stayed after to visit, take photos and sign autographs for dozens of residents and guests.

“These are the people, too, that grew up watching Miss America,” Smith said.

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