Launching the Seattle Fashion Film Festival is a part of Joell Posey-Grager’s mission as Miss Seattle 2016. Even at the local level, every Miss America Organization contestant has a cause they are passionate about serving. Joell’s platform is Overcoming Adversity Through the Arts, a platform that sums up her life.

This first weekend in May at the competition’s orientation, it was announced that Joell fundraised the highest dollar figure in her state for the Miss Washington Scholarship Organization Miracle Bowl, benefitting the Children’s Miracle Network.

Code Red

Miss Seattle 2016Joell was born with an undiagnosed in utero infection. She came out seemingly perfectly normal. But when holding her, her eleven-year-old brother, Jared, detected something wrong. He told the nurse that Joell was making “Darth Vader breathing sounds.” The nurse felt  an eleven year old kid probably didn’t know what he was talking about, and refused to alert Joell’s doctor. However, when Joell’s mother agreed with Jared, the doctor was summoned. After a brief examination, Joell was rushed into Intensive Care.

They whisked her out of the room to perform tests. The doctor returned with a somber expression. He told them that Joell did not have an immunity built up to fight an infection. He said the infection was raging through her body and was shutting everything down. She probably would not make it.

Joell was transferred to Seattle Children’s Hospital. After weeks on life support, she survived the infection, but not without lasting complications. She lived with cerebral palsy, autism, and scoliosis. Dancing, acting, and comedy helped her develop social cues that many autism and Asperger Syndrome individuals fail to develop.

Joell not only beat the odds, but grew up to become quite an accomplished young woman, earning her master’s degree at the age of twenty-three. Her undergraduate years in journalism and graduate years in mass communications at Cal State were filled with volunteering. She was spokesperson for SOCAL Hearts, a nonprofit organization bringing summer camp (with singing, dancing, and acting programs) to the underprivileged community in Compton, California and neighboring cities.

Sunshine Gal

Having returned to Washington state, Joell decided to start her own organization and programs in the Northwest. As Miss Seattle, she joined with Seattle Children’s Hospital in a reading literacy and artistic program called “Sunshine Session”.  The children don’t have the opportunity to leave the hospital at any time; they are there for weeks on end having treatments and surgeries. She founded this program bringing celebrities and other title holders like herself to offer enjoyable artistic activities to the kids at Seattle Children’s Hospital. RJ Mitte and Romi Dames came for the first session and had a great time reading stories and crafting with the children.

Miss Seattle

Joell and RJ Mitte of “Breaking Bad” and “Switched at Birth”

Sunshine Session’s goal is to promote art, reading, and acting to all of the hospitalized students. Joell’s plan is to be able to spend time with all of the kids there who want to learn how to sing, play musical instruments, or act. She also wants to host little sessions where they learn a scene and then perform it before volunteers, physicians, friends, family, or anyone who wants to be there. Joell says, “Everyone has a different passion, and I want to make sure that their passion is met.”

Seattle Fashion Film Festival

Miss Seattle

Romi Dames of “Hannah Montana” and “Winx Club” with Joell’s brother Kelly

Now Miss Seattle is partnering with the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival (the largest fashion film festival in the world), to create a Seattle Fashion Film Festival in the Northwest. As a nonprofit organization, the submission fee proceeds go to Children’s Miracle Network and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

There will be a range of genres both feature and short subject. “I wanted to bring the Fashion Film Festival up to the Northwest because we have a great fashion influence here, as well as wonderful filmmakers. Bringing these two worlds together, I think they’re going to have a lot of fun being creative in different ways than both worlds have individually had in the past.”

Seattle Fashion Film Festival launched with a party in April hosted by Miss Seattle at the Kirkland Woman’s Club. Special guests who flew in for the evening were RJ Mitte and Romi Dames (full disclosure my daughter).

 

 

Miss Seattle Gives Back to the Hospital That Saved Her Life (Article by Kathryn MuellerSeattle Children’s Hospital)