Alyson Chu has created a healthy lifestyle for herself and her family, and she wants to share it with others. The West Orange County resident accepted the Mrs. Winter Garden America title in October, and, through her platform, is partnering with Shepherd’s Hope and its new Healthy Eating Active Lifestyle program.
Chu will compete April 23, 2022, at the Westgate Resort Orlando for the title of Mrs. Florida America 2022. She is the first person to hold the Mrs. Winter Garden Florida title.
Contestants are nominated by members of the pageant committee.
“Someone from the committee had known about me in the community and reached out … and (wanted) me to apply and be considered for the role,” Chu said.
She went through the application and interview process before the title was bestowed upon her. She is one of about 20 contestants vying for the crown at the state level.
As Mrs. Winter Garden, Chu is available to speak to organizations and community groups sharing her story and her platform of healthy living. She already has spoken to students at Maxey Elementary School about healthy eating and staying active, as well as a group of senior citizens at the West Orange Neighborhood Center.
Chu said she did her own research after accepting her title, wanting to select an organization that allowed her to give back to the community but also aligned with the healthy lifestyle she has embraced. She reached out to Healthy West Orange, which directed her to Shepherd’s Hope.
“I went to go tour their facility about a month ago, and I was so taken aback by all the services they offer and all the new projects they offer,” she said. “The biggest thing for them is making more people aware that they’re located there and the services they offer.”
Her goal is to raise awareness of Shepherd’s Hope’s HEAL program, which promotes eating healthy and staying active. It is slated to start in the new year.
“HEAL addresses your mind, body and soul,” Chu said. “Examples are eating healthy foods, growing healthy foods, exercising (and) practicing mindfulness. Another part is mental health, and I’m proud to be working with Victoria’s Voice.”
This foundation was started after the death of Victoria Siegel, the 18-year-old daughter of David and Jackie Siegel, who died of a drug overdose in 2015.
Chu said she is excited about this next chapter in her life and the opportunity to help others. She has lived in Central Florida since 2007, and she and her husband Ryan, moved to Winter Garden in 2016. They have a 3-year-old daughter, Aliyah.
“We definitely fell in love with the sense of community the city has to offer,” she said.
The Mrs. Florida America Pageant is a part of the Mrs. America Organization.
The 2022 pageant is Feb. 25 and 26, when Brittany Carson, the 2021 Mrs. Florida America, will be on hand to crown her successor. Carson, a native Floridian born and raised in Central Florida, is an advanced practice nurse practitioner caring for critical patients in the emergency room setting. Her platform is child safety and drug prevention.
Sponsorship is key to being a successful pageant contestant. Chu has several sponsors but is looking for others who can support her platform and her bid for Mrs. Florida America.
“If anyone would like to support my cause, please email me,” she said. “I have some great opportunities that showcase local businesses that help support a healthy lifestyle. I will be working with Shepherd's Hope organization, and a portion of the sponsorships will be helping families in need by expanding outreach and providing healthy meals.”
She also has been working with local farms creating healthy food baskets and giving them to families in need, she said.
“I wanted to do this because I wanted to create a legacy for my daughter to know me as more than just her mommy, but someone who wanted to help give back to her community and help others in need,” Chu said. “I want to continue to show my daughter what it means to live a healthy lifestyle and build a strong foundation.”
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.