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March 6, 2008

Port woman named Mrs. Massachusetts

NEWBURYPORT — Woodman Way resident Jessica Plante has had trouble sleeping this week.

"I'm tired but I can't sleep, I'm so excited," Plante said. "I'm like a little kid. I keep getting up and looking at my crown."

Plante, who has been competing in beauty pageants since her teens, won her biggest title to date this week — Mrs. Massachusetts International.

She competed against 10 other women in Winthrop, Maine.

But the win meant more than a crown for the 29-year-old. The road to the title has been marked by a traumatizing health scare and a long recovery.

Last year, Plante was diagnosed with Ventricular Tachycardia, a rapid heartbeat, after a routine visit to the dentist.

After undergoing heart surgery to correct the problem, Plante has been acting as an American Heart Association Go Red For Women ambassador, telling her story to inspire others to learn more about heart disease.

After her diagnosis, Plante thought her pageant days were over. She became a certified pageant judge in New Hampshire as well as a mentor to young contestants in order to stay involved in pageant life.

While judging a recent competition, her ideas changed. Plante felt an urge to get back on the stage again and use her experiences to her benefit.

"I thought, 'what a great opportunity to use a title to promote the Go Red Campaign and the American Heart Association,'" Plante said, noting heart disease is her pageant platform.

The pageant, a worldwide competition for married women ages 21 to 56, chooses delegates from each state and other countries to compete in the annual competition.

While in the past Massachusetts has sent a representative via an application process, Plante is the first woman to be crowned Mrs. Massachusetts.

"She's a crowd favorite. We are very excited. She will be representing all of the married women as Mrs. Massachusetts at Mrs. America International," state director Rebecca Poushard said.

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