She is 8 years old and already on her way to the big time.
Allyson Kowaluk participates in cheerleading and hip-hop dance with Ignite Cheerleading out of two locations in the Southland—one in Lockport, the other in Minooka. Soon, she will be performing on an even bigger stage.
After undergoing an interview process, Kowaluk was selected as a state finalist in the National American Miss Illinois Pageant Aug. 2-3 at Pheasan Run Resort in St. Charles. She will compete in the junior pre-teen age division along with the other finalists from around the state.
The pageant is not beauty based—rather, it focuses on inner-beauty as well as poise and presentation.
State winners receive $1,000 and air transportation to the National American Miss Competition in November in California. While on the West Coast, they will tour Hollywood and receive VIP tickets to Disneyland.
"Mom is very, very proud and very excited," said Sandra Taylor, Allyson's mother. "Oh, we're going all right (to the state finals). We'll be there every step of the way."
Taylor, who works as a safety coordinator at TRC Solutions in Burr Ridge, said her daughter first hooked up with Ignite Cheerleading on the recommendation of a friend about three years ago.
Today, Allyson competes in cheerleading with the Lockport branch of the organization. Her team was crowned as grand champ in a competition last weekend in Minooka. She dances hip-hop in Minooka.
Because Taylor's mother lives in Summit and Taylor drops her daughter off on work days in the south suburbs, Allyson attends St. Joseph School in Summit. She is an honor-roll student.
Her mom said she will turn 9 before the state finals. She enjoys helping others, family activities and spending time with her friends. She also likes swimming, camping, fishing and drawing.
And the limelight, too.