Brainerd teen wins national pageant, promotes childhood cancer awareness

Haley Helmin is a graduate of Brainerd High School and Central Lakes College. She was recently crowned Miss Teen United States and plans to use her yearlong platform to bring awareness to Ally’s Wings, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about childhood cancer research funding, because of a relative who had childhood cancer.

Haley Helmin, a 19-year-old from Brainerd, is the 2020 Miss Teen United States pageant winner. Photo by Franz Orban for The Code Productions

Haley Helmin of Brainerd knows a thing or two about winning.

The Brainerd High School graduate was named “2018 Youth Volunteer of the Year” and “Miss Teen Baxter United States 2019.” In the latest, the 19-year-old took home the “Miss Teen United States 2020” pageant title last week at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach, Florida.

“It didn’t feel real, because I have been competing for the United States National Pageant system for almost five years,” Helmin said. “And then as soon as my name was called for the winner, it just kind of hit me.”

Helmin is the daughter of Kyle and Amanda Helmin. She graduated last year from Central Lakes College with an Associate of Arts degree and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting at North Dakota State University.


Haley Helmin smiles as she is crowned Miss Teen United States earlier this month on a stage at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Franz Orban for The Code Productions

“When I woke up the next day, I still kind of had like that ‘cloud nine’ feeling of ‘Wow! I actually get to experience this for an entire year … and I get to promote my platform,’” Helmin said of winning and her platform Ally’s Wings.

Ally's Wings provides tie blankets and care packages for children or families impacted by cancer. Ally’s Wings was named after Allison Rose Helmin, who was 7 when she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The girl died Dec. 10, 2016.

“I got started in pageants because I had a cousin that was affected by childhood cancer. And that’s been the main reason why I got into pageants is because I wanted to give a platform and a spotlight to that cause and I didn’t know how,” Helmin said.

Helmin has a 16-year-old brother and a 9-year-old sister, but it was her cousin that arguably impacted her the most.

“I have a goal as ‘Miss Teen United States’ to deliver a blanket to a kid with cancer to every single state in the U.S.,” Helmin said.

Helmin created her nonprofit Ally’s Wings dedicated to raising awareness of the underfunding of childhood cancer research.

“The United States (National) Pageant system really gives you life skills. It has taught me how to interview, it’s taught me how to speak in front of large crowds,” Helmin said.


Helmin also won the interview and evening gown categories in the national pageant.

“It’s also given me the confidence to go in front of a large audience in a swimsuit, in an evening gown, and be poised and elegant,” Helmin said.

Haley Helmin of Brainerd is a graduate of Brainerd High School and Central Lakes College. She is the 2020 Miss Teen United States pageant winner. Photo by Franz Orban for The Code Productions

Vicki Randall is the co-director of the Minnesota United States Pageant.

“We are a community service, service-based pageant system, so what that means is she will have the opportunity for the next year to work her platform, which is Ally’s Wings … and represent the United States Pageant system in various different appearances,” Randall said.

Helmin will also work closely with pageant designer Johnathan Kayne, according to Randall.

“Johnathan was a winner of ‘Project Runway’ several years back and has gone on to create the most amazing gowns for pageant ladies. And so she’ll work with him in a lot of his designs,” Randall said of the reality competition cable TV series.


Helmin’s mother has also competed in pageants, but Helmin is the first woman from Brainerd to be crowned “Miss Teen United States,” according to Randall.

“The United States (National Pageant) system is really focusing on empowering women and giving them that voice. In 2020, that is where our attention should be focused. Women are the future. We can help build all of these amazing things,” Helmin said.

Randall said, “Mostly, though, what I love about our system is the fact that they are given the opportunity to take a platform that they developed and kind of run with it. … They are given that national platform across our nation to promote what their cause is.”

Two years ago, Alyssa Deltorre, the daughter of Sandra and Jeffrey Payne of Breezy Point, was named the national winner of the “Ms. United States” division after competing at the 2018 United States National Pageant in Orlando, Florida.

Deltorre spent her year of service traveling across the country and making appearances, promoting her platform, “Heal Through Health-Helping Women Heal from Abuse.”

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“This pageant system, as well as many other pageant systems, give that voice to women in today’s world to shine and also to give that voice to their platform … and some of them can come up with amazing new ways to help this country,” Helmin said.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .


I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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