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Mr. Middletown pageant raises $13,000 for fight vs. childhood cancer

By Laura Hayes

Posted 4/3/19

Ethan Miller was all smiles as Makenzie Mehalick put a sash over his head, crowning him Mr. Middletown 2019.

Mr. Middletown isn’t an award that honors just him, Miller said. …

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Mr. Middletown pageant raises $13,000 for fight vs. childhood cancer


Ethan Miller was all smiles as Makenzie Mehalick put a sash over his head, crowning him Mr. Middletown 2019.

Mr. Middletown isn’t an award that honors just him, Miller said.

“It’s all of us. All of us are Mr. Middletown. … Everybody is included in this, and everybody should feel as happy as all of us here did tonight,” Miller said.

Miller was one of 13 seniors competing for the title on Friday. Mr. Middletown is an annual male beauty pageant at Middletown Area High School. The pageant has three categories — formalwear, during which they don suits and answer questions; a swimsuit competition; and talent competition.

The pageant raises money for MAHS’ Mini-THON, which in turn donates the money to Four Diamonds, an organization that battles childhood cancer.

Just before Miller was crowned, organizers revealed that the students raised $13,168.80. Miller raised $1,776.08, beating the runner-up Ben Knisely by $3.10.

Miller wanted to participate in Mr. Middletown because he wants to be a motivational speaker and go to hospitals and talk to patients.

“I’d just like to make the world a better place,” he said.

After strutting their stuff to a song of their choice to the stage, emcees senior Tim Nevil and MAHS teacher Brian Keyser asked each of the contestants questions such as who do they think is their biggest competition, what superpower they would want and what shape is the Earth.

Next, the competitors had to wow the audience with their talents. From behind a curtain, Miller and fellow competitors Ben Knisely and Scott Ash “danced” to songs such as the YMCA and Psy’s “Gangnam Style” with their hands as feet and some helpers from behind the curtain as their hands.

They weren’t the only competitors to perform as a group. Nick Holmes, Anthony LaVia and William Stone came onto the stage with their faces covered in blue paint to perform a Blue Man Group parody. They drummed on a long white tube that changed pitch as they pulled the pipe apart. Holmes, LaVia and Stone then wheeled out a large blue garbage can. Pouring a blue liquid on the top, they hit the top, sending the liquid flying.

Some of the other competitors lipsynced or sang, and Camden Shetter flipped water bottles.

The last category was the swimsuit competition, and the students came out, dressed in coconut bras and floaties.

After the competitors performed a group dance, this year’s Four Diamonds family, Nicole Mehalick and her daughter Makenzie, took the stage.

Nicole said her daughter’s life was put on hold in 2014 when Makenzie was accidentally hit in gym class. She was 14 and had just started at Steelton-Highspire Senior High School.

Makenzie came home, complaining of pain in her abdomen. The doctors at the emergency room said she had a bruised rib, but when her pain was still there a week later, the doctors did an MRI and found a cyst. Makenzie underwent surgery to remove the cyst along with an ovary and fallopian tube. 

When they went back for a follow up appointment, Nicole said the doctor’s face went somber as he told her they found stage one ovarian cancer.

“My mouth dropped, and I don’t remember anything he said after that,” Nicole said.

Doctors said Makenzie would undergo three rounds of chemotherapy. During the first session, Makenzie had an allergic reaction to the medicine, although she was able to press the emergency button to get help.

A year-and-a-half after treatment, Makenzie had a scan that showed another cyst.

“You see, cancer didn’t almost take my daughter once from me, but it almost took her a second time,” Nicole said.

Mothers of cancer patients use the hashtag #CancerCannot because their children are resilient even though they struggle to keep their food down and their bodies are poked and prodded.

“With all of that, cancer cannot take away their will and fight to live,” Nicole said.

Her daughter is strong, a fighter, and thriving, now attending Harrisburg Area Community College. She is four years’ cancer free as of March 18.

Four Diamonds, Nicole said, covered their medical bills and prescriptions and gave her vouchers for gas and food.

Miller said it was “breathtaking” to hear Makenzie’s story.

“It was definitely a timeless moment that we will remember our whole lives for years to come. It was beautiful,” Miller said.