BYU–Hawaii Student Completes Reign as Mrs. America
Roger Brown | University Relations | 12 October 2012
“More than anything, I wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of people on a grander scale,” mused Lara Leimana Fonoimoana, BYU–Hawaii student graduating in December, wife, and mother who recently completed her reign as Mrs. America.
What began as almost a dare from her husband became an opportunity to serve and to make a difference in the lives of people from many places and circumstances. Mrs. America is a competition designed to honor married women from around the country. When crowned, Mrs. America is given the opportunity to promote her chosen platform on a larger scale. First crowned Mrs. Hawaii, Fonoimoana chose the platform of health and wellness, with a focus on eliminating and preventing childhood obesity.
She worked with the Hawaii department of health to discuss programs and initiatives to help the children of Hawaii. She went on to promote these programs in schools and communities using her title to bring attention to the issues at hand. Her work was not solely limited to her platform, she lent her help to “anyone who wanted me to come in and make some kind of positive influence or impact,” said Fonoimoana.
In total, she did over 100 appearances in Hawaii and across the country. Many organizations requested her help in furthering their cause or garnering attention; among them were Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii, Hugs, Aloha Care, Goodwill, Hawaii Bone marrow Foundation, and many more. When asked if was a requirement or a responsibility of Mrs. America to do such appearances, Fonoimoana responded, “I don’t want to say it was a responsibility, because they do not obligate us to do a certain number of appearances. That was my way of using the title as a voice for those who cannot speak or need help being heard.”
“I knew I had made it as Mrs. America when I was asked to be the spokesperson for obesity prevention here in Hawaii by the board of directors of the Department of Health,” said Fonoimoana. The whole experience was a dream come true, “I have had so much given to me, and I always wanted to be able to give back.” The title and accompanying recognition allowed her to make connections and changes that she would not have otherwise been able to do.
“Even though I drove my family crazy with the whole process, they were always very supportive, and I would not have been able to do it without them,” recalled Fonoimoana. “ They say it takes a village to raise a child, well this village of Laie helped to raise me up to where I am today. My husband was very reassuring with me, and very loyal. It didn’t hurt that he enjoyed the title of Mr. America.”
While the crown provided her many opportunities for change, encourages people to help others around them now. “That is my biggest message, you don’t have to wait for the big opportunities, projects, or titles to help others,” said Fonoimoana . “ There is a little girl or boy that just wants someone to make them smile, elderly people who feel forgotten, it makes a world of difference for people to get one-on-one time. While it is easy to get caught up in the daily to-do’s and say we do not have time to help, there is time to help, if we make it.”
Photos courtesy of Lara Leimana Fonoimoana.