OWOSSO — As the deadline for crowning this year’s Glow Queen approaches, two local women are working hard to obtain donations for causes that benefit the community.
Betty Caverson — representing The Healing Nest in Corunna — and Kathy Watson — representing Angel’s Hands Community Outreach in Owosso — are vying for the title of Glow Queen, which has become an annual fundraising contest in which female candidates raise money and awareness for their favorite local charities or service groups.
The woman that raises the most money for her cause will earn this year’s title. Perks for the winner include a crown, sash, flowers, bragging rights, riding as the grand marshal in the Glow Parade and helping Santa light the city’s Christmas tree.
The contest, which started in 2015, was suspended last year when no one tossed her hat into the ring.
In an effort to attract candidates this year, the Glow Queen Committee made a few changes.
For one thing, the title was changed from Ice Queen to Glow Queen, to eliminate any connotation the queen might possess an icy personality. The length of the campaign was also shortened, from six weeks to just shy of a month this year, from Oct. 25 through Nov. 23.
The Glow Queen will be crowned Nov. 23 at the D’Mar Banquet and Conference Center in Owosso Township.
For Caverson, who has battled thyroid cancer and has had numerous family members succumb to other forms of the disease, the contest seemed like a great opportunity to help those battling cancer.
“I thought, well, I’m still young enough that I can do something like this and help in some way over at the Healing Nest,” Caverson said. “I’ve had it in the back of my mind ever since the contest started here in Owosso but I never really picked up on it. This time I did because I sat down one night and I figured out how many members of my family have had cancer and passed away with it. I wanted to do something for cancer, but local.”
The Healing Nest is a nonprofit organization in Corunna that provides complimentary holistic and spa services for women undergoing cancer treatment.
Caverson considered raising money for the American Cancer Society, she said, but chose intead to raise money for The Healing Nest because the impact would be more immediate in the greater Shiawassee Community.
“They pamper you, and I believe that a woman needs some pampering because if she gets sick, she still has to come into her home and keep things going,” she explained.
To help raise funds, Caverson called upon Donna Kerridge, who has served as her beautician for the past 20 years.
“She’s such a sweet lady and I love her dearly,” Caverson said. “Really, she’s my adopted daughter, her and her husband are my family.”
Kerridge said she was happy to help.
“She just flat out called me one day and said ‘We’re doing this,’” Kerridge said. “I didn’t even hesitate, I said ‘Absolutely.’”
Together, the two women, along with other volunteers, have employed a variety of fundraising efforts, including hosting a cornhole tournament at Rival’s Taphouse and Grille, setting up donation canisters at several area businesses (including Time For Flowers, Greg and Lou’s Restaurant and Crossroads Market) and establishing a voucher program with Farmer’s Garden in which 15 percent of the proceeds from voucher purchases go directly toward the fundraising campaign.
Saturday, Caverson and her colleagues will be at McCurdy Park in Corunna selling baked goods and Christmas items as part of the Deer Widows Craft and Vendor Show at the Community Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Caverson said she expects the event to be her largest fundraiser.
Overall, the experience has been wonderful, Caverson added.
“People are great out there,” she said, “and they’re willing to help.”
Fellow candidate Kathy Watson is raising funds and awareness for Angel’s Hands Community Outreach, a group that donates things such as food and clothing to those in need.
Watson said she first learned of Angel’s Hands at First United Methodist in Owosso when group founder Christial Sierra gave a short presentation about its mission.
When she made up her mind to run for Glow Queen, Watson decided to give Sierra a call.
“I said, ‘You know, I’ve seen you talk a couple times and would you like me to run for you,’” Watson said. “And she said, ‘You know, I’ve been praying about it, that we needed a fundraiser, and then you called.’ It was meant to be I guess.”
Watson, who has lived in Owosso her entire life — except for nine months when her husband David was in the Navy — said she wanted to do everything she could to help Sierra impact people’s lives locally.
“I knew she had a heart for these people,” Watson said. “Christial said, ‘I’ve been there, I was a drug addict, I know where they’re coming from.’ But God touched her life, and turned her life right around, and now she’s also paying back, whatever she can do…She’s got the heart for it.”
Watson’s campaign manager, her niece Kara Perry, said she was blown away at how much Sierra and her fellow group volunteers do for the homeless, delivering supplies to those in need without judgment.
“It’s really nice how they actually go out to the homeless and give them supplies,” Perry said. “They buy tents, they help them with getting into apartments, providing gas cards for people that need to get to work, food and clothing…They do a lot.”
To raise awareness for Angel’s Hands, Watson and Sierra have hosted a number of fundraising meals, including a pancake breakfast, a chili dinner and a spaghetti dinner.
Watson added she has been selling peanut brittle on the side, so all of the money donated goes directly to Angel’s Hands, rather than some of it being used to offset the cost of purchasing supplies and ingredients for the meals.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Watson is hosting a craft and bake sale at the First Church of God, 2100 N. M-52.
Whether or not she earns the title of Glow Queen, Watson added, she’s happy to be raising money for those in need in Owosso.
“I love people, I love being out there and meeting new people, making a difference,” Watson said. “And I love Owosso, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”