On her second try for the title, a Harford County wife and working mother was crowned Mrs. Maryland and will represent the state in the national pageant this summer.
Heather Ziehl of Bel Air, who founded the community service and networking group True Housewives, was crowned Mrs. Maryland 2013 this weekend, beating out four other contenders at Baltimore's Crowne Plaza. Ziehl, a 34-year-old who runs marketing and events for Arc of the Northern Chesapeake, who competed as Mrs. Northern Chesapeake, had been first runner-up last year, the first time she ever entered a pageant.
"This year I went full force and prepared the entire year," she told Insider. "I worked very very hard this year and was just thrilled and ecstatic that I won."
Mrs. Maryland is open to married women in their 20s through 50s.
To take the sparkling crown, Ziehl bested the competition in swimsuit, eveningwear, fashionista and interview segments. She also won the "fitness" and "entourage" awards, meaning she had the most impressive physique and the most enthusiastic cheering section.
Ziehl, who turns 35 next month, said she worked with a trainer and a nutritionist for months to be able to proudly sport a two-piece in the swim segment. "They got me in the best shape of my life and I was going to show it off," she said.
Her surprise interview question was one she was more than prepared to answer: Why do you want to be Mrs. Maryland?
It's all about her 15-year-old daughter, Brianna, who has Down Syndrome. With the title, Ziehl hoped to become an ambassador for parents fighting for the inclusion of children with developmental disabilities.
"It was an opportunity to create the ultimate level of awareness," she said.
And already, she's got appearances booked. She'll be at a charity walk this weekend at Harford Community College and two more next week.
"I wanted this so bad," she said. "I'm going to exhaust myself for this entire year and do as much as I can."
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