Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 09 August 2013 00:00
Jessica Ricco has had a very busy year. Since being crowned Miss Long Island, she’s had surgery for a collapsed lung, competed in Miss New York/USA, got a full time teaching position and has worked with multiple nonprofit organizations to help children in need.
And though she will hand off her crown this Sunday at the Miss Long Island pageant, the Westbury native has no plans of slowing down.
Ricco, who was crowned Miss Long Island last year, plans to continue fighting for children’s advocacy, a cause that has always been close to her heart. Long before she was crowned, she was organizing coat drives and buying Christmas presents for families in need. As a first grade special education teacher in Queens (she was previously a Park Avenue teacher) she is able to help youngsters overcome challenges every day. But being Miss Long Island has given Ricco countless more opportunities to do what she loves. The crown has afforded Ricco the platform to fundraise and work closely with organizations she was passionate about such as the Ronald McDonald House and Angela’s House. One cause —
Hope For Youth—particularly resonated with her. The organization helps foster children on Long Island have good, stable homes until they finish school. She has been able to do several events for the local charity, including emcee-ing events and hosting an upcoming golf fundraiser.
“They have a great staff and they’re doing great work for the children,” Ricco said. “None of these people have a crown, but they’re doing amazing work so I’m inspired to do it with or without the crown.”
But her pageant career isn’t over yet. Ricco is hoping to make pageantry a hobby and compete in Mrs. pageants in the future.
“It’s something I always want to stay a part of. After I give up the crown, I’ll be able to coach girls. I definitely don’t want to stop and I still want it to be a part of my life,” Ricco said.
Having competed since she was 16, she says that pageantry has taught her invaluable life skills, such as communication and confidence. The Miss Long Island pageants have also helped start countless friendships. Unlike other pageants she has competed in, which she admits can sometimes get catty, Miss Long Island differentiates itself in that it’s like a close knit family.
“It’s a sisterhood,” Ricco said. “Everyone takes care of each other and it’s exciting because you keep these friends for a lifetime.”
And for girls who are thinking about competing, Ricco encourages them to give it a shot.
“If it’s something you have an interest in, try it at least once. And don’t give it a shot to win the crown but because you want the experience,” Ricco says.