Sandahl Taylor is not aiming for the stars. She aims for infinity and beyond.
When Taylor, a military wife, mother and career woman, takes the stage in August at the McAllen Convention Center in Texas, she will be the first Pennsylvanian woman in more than a decade to represent the state at the International Galaxy Pageant.
“The last woman was Wendy Sledd, in 2009. In 2008, Deborah Wright was actually Ms. Galaxy,” Taylor said over the phone on a recent weekday. “It’s really cool to have a Galaxy title holder and for me to be that person.”
Taylor, a decorated professional and beauty queen, didn’t grow up under the lights of pageantry. In fact, she said she was late to the pageant party.
“I was never eligible, before I was married, to compete,” she said, noting that in many pageant systems, the title of “Miss” is open to single women without children.
“I had a son when I was 19. The Galaxy organization was the very first system for single mothers to compete. I didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t know that I could participate in contests,” Taylor said.
It wasn’t until Taylor and his “knight in camouflage armor,” U.S. Army veteran Kenneth Taylor, were married that the 30 Under 30 nominee took to the stage.
She entered her first Mrs. Pennsylvania America in 2016, at the request of pageant owner Raquel Riley Thomas. Although she didn’t place, Taylor said she was having the time of her life. The following year, Taylor placed second and received her first of two friendliness awards.
In 2019, Taylor was crowned Ms. Pennsylvania America.
Taylor, who is a hairstylist, puts her talents to good use by donating free haircuts through the Veterans Leadership Program. She uses her platform to advocate for heart health, an issue she is passionate about: her father, a Navy veteran, suffered a heart attack and stroke that left him paralyzed on one side, and Taylor herself was diagnosed with heart disease.
She is also an EmPOWERED To Serve Ambassador for the American Heart Association and is training to become a CPR instructor.
After losing her father to complications from COVID-19 and an underlying heart condition, Taylor launched the #Showusyourheart social media challenge last year to help women around the world reduce their risk of the disease. cardiac.
“One in three women is affected by heart disease. To me, that’s staggering,” she said. “My goal is that no one ever has to feel and go through what I went through.”
To date, women from 19 states and nine countries on four continents have joined the challenge. Taylor attributes many of her successes, including the Heart Initiative, to her family of pageants.
“(The Galaxy System) is tearing down negative stereotypes about pageant girls. These women are phenomenal,” Taylor said. “These are women from all walks of life. It’s kind of surreal to be next to them.”
Taylor will once again stand alongside her pageant friends at the 20th annual Galaxy International Pageant in August. She has three goals for this year’s pageant: to be authentically herself, to clearly detail her plans should she be crowned Ms. Galaxy, and to have fun.
“The crown is like the icing on the cake. For me, it’s an opportunity to potentially change lives,” said Taylor, whose biggest cheerleaders – Kenneth and their two children, Blake and Anastasia – will be cheering on Ms Pennsylvania Galaxy every step of the way.
Follow Taylor across the galaxy on Instagram at @sandahltaylor or Facebook at @mrssandahltaylor.