personal advice ● beyond the spotlight
By Megan Alexander
PHOTO BY MATT BOYD
Despite living with a rare heart
condition, reigning International
Junior Miss’ International Miss
Kayla Sulla spends each day
working for a number of
S o many of us think life is a fairy-tale for a Pageant
Queen—that life is worry-free, stress-free and her
health is perfect. Such is not the case for Kayla
Sulla. When Kayla was 23-years old, she was
given some shocking news. She was told she had
“Supraventricular Tachycardia” (or SVT), meaning her
heart rate speeds up out of control (250 bpm+) for a sus-
tained period of time.
It’s painful and very scary. Sometimes Kayla even goes
temporarily blind or faints. The treatment for such a con-
dition is pretty intense. Kayla needs to have surgery called
an “ablation”, during which the surgeons burn off the parts
of her heart that cause the arrhythmias.
Kayla shares that she keeps putting it off because she’s
not ready—she is not totally convinced that burning off
part of her heart now at 24-years old is a good idea. An-
other part of her treatment is medication. Kayla tells me
there is only one medication that treats SVT. If taken, she
would have to be on it for the rest of her life, but because
she has low blood pressure, Kayla cannot take it. She was
told it would lower her blood pressure too much. The sur-
gery remains her only option.
In terms of a healthy lifestyle, Kayla is very careful to
take good care of herself. She takes ﬁsh oil vitamins daily
and makes sure to drink lots of water. She also believes that
good nutrition and hydration is just good for your body in
general. Kayla does have to refrain from getting in the Star-
bucks line—she says caffeine is best avoided. She also
watches her salt.
One particularly hard consequence of having SVT is
that Kayla can no longer work out. She needs to avoid sit-
uations where she could get too hot because this could
cause an SVT attack. She used to exercise all the time, but
she can’t really do it any anymore because she’s afraid her
heart will speed up too fast and go into an SVT. This has
been really difﬁcult for her because she was always very ac-
tive. She does not get to dance as much as she used to.
Kayla feels awful that she lets the fear control her so much
but going into an SVT attack is too risky and dangerous.
But instead of sitting home, feeling sorry for herself and
worrying about the things she can’t do, this International
Junior Miss Queen decided to do what she can do. Kayla
made the decision to utilize her skills and talents and or-
ganize the Go Red Fashion Show in her hometown. In one
month, she managed to put it all together, and I had the
pleasure of hosting the event. I was totally shocked that she
pulled off such a professional and complicated fashion
show in one month. Kayla said she was simply determined
to do it.
“Once I set my mind to do something,” Kayla explained,
“I stop at nothing until I achieve my goal. I started my own
volunteer organization in 2007 called ‘Preserve America’
based on my belief that volunteering is one of our nation’s
core values that we must preserve for the future. Through
Preserve America, I have been able to help so many differ-
ent charitable organizations. I just decide I want to help an
organization and I do it.
“The same attitude went into organizing the Go Red