Tonawanda News — Desiree Wiley, the reigning Miss Niagara has spent this weekend participating in the annual Miss New York State Pageant in Staten Island.
Wiley, who will represent Niagara County through January, possesses gifts some can only dream about. Undoubtedly, to many, she is drop dead gorgeous. But this poised 21-year-old from Lockport has more important things on her mind.
“Its nice (to be beautiful), but there are more important things than that,” said Wiley. The more important things include a recent graduation from Buffalo State College with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism, earned in just three years.
She said her most important endeavor is a matter of life and death. She is working during her year-long reign as Miss Niagara to promote Upstate New York Transplant Services, a critical player in the Western New York area specializing in organ transplants and blood transfusions.
Wiley makes public appearances to generate much needed publicity for the organization.
“I am really grateful that I can use my title to share the spotlight with all the people who are involved in the donation process,” she said. “All in all, it is an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime.
“They always said, ‘Someday in your life, you will come across someone you know who have relied on their services of donation.’ I have met a lot of people in this process that have touched me,” she said.
One was a 16-year-old named Kyle, who suffered from cystic fibrosis and needed a liver transplant.
“The excitement that he had when he talked about his future, even though he was unsure on a physical level, gave me even more passion to work harder for this cause,” Wiley remembered. “There are so many people, like Kyle, who every single day, don’t know what their future holds. He gave me the ability to appreciate the life I have.”
Wiley, who interned at WKBW, Channel 7 television, is already looking foward to becoming a news reporter.
“I made a strong connection with everyone,” she said of her time at Channel 7. “I am hoping a position opens up there. I am willing to go anywhere a job opening occurs.”
Conventional wisdom says Wiley, whose photo is on Facebook, would constantly be barraged with requests by young men eager to go out on dates. Not so much, she says.
“You would be surprised at how many people don’t hit on me,” she laughed. “I don’t really get hit on too much.”
In the meantime, she plans to concentrate on saving lives and there will be many who appreciate her efforts.
A fan of Wiley’s is Chuck Berasi, the executive director of the Miss Niagara Pageant, who himself is in Stage 4 of kidney failure and is currently awaiting a transplant.
“I think she is going to be a role model for all young women,“ he said. “You look at her, and say, ‘Wow, she is a pretty girl,’ and then she starts speaking. You can feel her passion for her platform.”