Tory Deluhery, the current Miss Keystone’s Outstanding Teen, has been competing in pageants since she was 11 years old—nearly as long as her family has been fostering children. So when it came time to choose a platform to promote as she moved on to compete for the title of Miss America Outstanding Teen, it seemed only natural that she would select foster care and adoption.
“It is not something I just talk about, but also something I live every day,” says the 17-year-old Deluhery. “I think my platform is very important because foster care and adoption don’t get enough attention.”
Deluhery, whose family has fostered and adopted multiple children during the last 10 years, does everything she can to educate others on the topic.
“It was an honor to be part of something that big and influential in these children’s lives.”
“My goal is to increase awareness of foster care, educate people about what the needs are and, I hope, help more children get adopted before they age out of the foster-care system,” she says, adding that many people believe the only way they can help is through adoption. “I’m helping people understand there is another way as well.”
Deluhery, a self-proclaimed volunteer-aholic, started a “Princess for a Day” program at her local Salvation Army. Focused on building confidence in young girls, the program is offered to children while their foster parents attend meetings or training sessions.
“Our goal for the day is to make them feel like a princess. We give them crowns and build confidence,” says Deluhery, who recently began a similar program for young boys called “Knight for a Night.” “We have kids who are very shy and nervous when they arrive but by the time they leave at the end of the day, they are smiling, laughing and introducing themselves to others.”
Deluhery, who has begun volunteering for Diakon Adoption & Foster Care, offered her time and efforts at a recent adoption social and matching event, held on the campus of The Lutheran Home at Topton, because she was attracted to the program’s concept of bringing foster children together with potential adoptive families.
“When I heard about it, I instantly wanted to hop on board and be part of it,” she says. “It was an honor to be part of something that big and influential in these children’s lives.”
Before the program was over Deluhery was thinking of ways she could help expand the idea to a wider group of people. “We talked about getting the Salvation Army involved and mixing the groups together to make it a big event,” she says.
“That way, more children can really find their forever homes.”