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'Being yourself is the best thing to be'

Izzy Kramber is shown with toys she purchased and donated to kids in the hospital through her own charity program called "Suckers for Sick Kids." Izzy sells suckers and collects donations so she can buy toys to give to kids in the hospital. Photo courtesy of Darcie Kramber1 / 2
Izzy Kramber was named 2017 National American Miss Wisconsin Princess in her age group. She's using her role to represent Wisconsin, and to help others in Hudson and elsewhere. Photo by Carrie Pyrz2 / 2

The Hudson City Council had a very young visitor during its Dec. 4 regular meeting. Dressed in a pink dress with a tiara and sash, 6-year-old Izzy Kramber introduced herself.

"Big things come in small packages," she said, introducing herself. "And that's very true for this little firecracker ..."

She told the council she loves to dance and make people smile.

She is the 2017 National American Miss Wisconsin Princess. She shared a speech she had prepared for the competition with the council, inspired by the words of Dr. Seuss.

"Dr. Seuss was a really smart guy. He knew that being yourself is the best thing to be," Izzy said in her speech. "I am lucky to be what I am, thank goodness I'm not just a clam or a ham or a jar of gooseberry jam. His rhymes are silly but the words are true, that 'a person's a person no matter how small,'

"Imagine how boring it would be if we were all the same. There'd be no 'Cat in the Hat' or 'Sam I Am' or 'Horton Hears a Who.' We'd all just be 'Thing One' or 'Thing Two.' so in the words of Dr. Seuss, 'Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.'"

Izzy's mom Darcie Kramber said Izzy got a Hudson pin from the Mayor, which she put on her sash.

"They asked how old (she was) and they couldn't believe how good (her) speech was," Darcie said.

Izzy herself said meeting the Mayor and City Council was exciting.

She got into pageants at about 4 years old, when she spotted a gown being carried into her dance coach's office.

According to Darcie, Izzy asked, "What's that for?" and then told her, "I want to do whatever that's for."

The answer, Darcie said, was pageants.

Darcie said she wasn't too sure she wanted her daughter involved in pageants at first.

"But, I thought, let's see what it's all about," she said. " After talking with Mary, her (Izzy's pageant) coach, it just sounded like an amazing opportunity. It sounded like a lot of fun and a way to make friends."

And there was a strong community service aspect that was important to her as well.

"And then most importantly, the confidence piece," she said. "It's huge."

She said she thinks it's great for Izzy to feel comfortable speaking in public when public speaking is generally a large fear for most Americans.

Izzy has had great success with pageants. Now 6 years old, she took home the Miss Wisconsin Princess title from the National American Miss competition in August. She was in the youngest age division.

As Miss Wisconsin Princess, she competed in the national pageant held in Anaheim, California, the week of Thanksgiving. Izzy brought home several trophies from nationals including National Spokesmodel Princess.

To win National Spokesmodel Princess, Izzy gave her Seuss-inspired speech. Her other awards included a Spirit of America Award.

Izzy's family and friends, including mom Darcie and Dad Jason, are very proud of her.

"Our whole neighborhood is very, very proud of Izzy," said Darcie. "They helped her get ready for both State and Nationals. They had to listen to the introduction and the spokesmodel speech, all to help (her) get ready. Every time we would run into somebody we would be like, 'Izzy do your speech!'"

Izzy works with pageant coach Mary Swenson of Confidence and Poise. Her sponsors are Viva Voce Salon in Hudson and Grandview Dental and Salon.

In her division, competitors are not allowed to wear makeup for competition, though they are allowed to wear a little for photo shoots and such events.

Izzy has been busy since being named Miss Wisconsin Princess. In addition to putting in appearances at some parades and events, she's set to film a commercial and had a photoshoot with her "sister queens," other title-holders.

She's also put in a lot of volunteer hours, of which Darcie is proud.

"Izzy's done a lot of community service in her short life here," Darcie said.

Izzy started her own community service project called "Suckers for Sick Kids."

"I raised money for toys," Izzy said.

After she turned 1, Izzy would get very sick about once a month. Darcie said after many doctors visits and hospital stays, they were referred to a doctor at Masonic University of Minnesota Children's Hospital.

After many tests, they were told Izzy most likely had a fever syndrome called Familial Mediterranean Fever Syndrome.

Izzy takes medicine to block the syndrome's symptoms. There is no cure, but the medicine makes a huge difference, Darcie said.

"When we were in the hospital, as she got older, she would see and meet other kids that were sick as well," Darcie said. "She wanted to do something to make their day brighter. We came up with 'Suckers for Sick Kids.'"

Izzy sells suckers and takes donations. They used money from "Suckers for Sick Kids" to buy new toys and give them to kids in the hospital.

"The last shopping spree was $600 of toys, dolls, cars, books, colors, iTunes and so on," said Darcie. "Izzy loves shopping!"

Izzy and her family have also done a lot with the St. Croix County Food Shelf, donated many diapers to a diaper drive, sent school supplies to victims of the recent hurricanes, and more.

"Whenever we hear of a need, then she takes money from her funds that she has for her "Suckers for Sick Kids" and we do some community service." Darcie said.

Her next two fundraising goals are to help homeless people and homeless pets, Darcie said.

Izzy's community service work is not required by National American Miss. Nor are any of her appearances, though community service is highly encouraged. Instead, she does all of those things—especially the community service—because she thinks they're important.

A big part of the pageant, whether kids win a title or not, is about the competitors reaching out and helping their communities.

Darcie said some people have "bad ideas" about what pageants are like. She said the pageants Izzy competes in aren't about beauty.

"At their age division, they're not allowed to wear any makeup," she said. "So it's not a beauty pageant. It's about building their confidence and all that good stuff."

According to a National American Miss press release, the NAM pageant is "for 'today's girl' and "tomorrow's leaders."

According to the release: "The pageant program is based on inner beauty, as well as poise, presentation and offers an 'all American Spirit' of fun for family and friends. Emphasis is placed on the importance of gaining self confidence, learning new skills, learning good attitudes about competition and setting and achieving personal goals."

Izzy said she definitely plans to keep doing pageants. Her next one will be Princess of America Miss Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, she will continue her appearances and charity work.

"We're going to spend the summer traveling around to different state pageants for National American Miss and visit there and help crown and give out trophies to the....2018 crowd that's coming in," Darcie said. "It'll be a fun summer."

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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