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personal advice ● beyond the spotlight By Megan Alexander PHOTO BY MATT BOYD Written on her Heart Despite living with a rare heart condition, reigning International Junior Miss’ International Miss Kayla Sulla spends each day working for a number of important causes 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- 70 PAGEANTRY 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