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Published: Tuesday, 1/10/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Area roots for resident in pageant

Miss Monroe County Elizabeth Wertenberger waves during a parade. Miss Monroe County Elizabeth Wertenberger waves during a parade.

After competing in local pageants for most of her childhood, Elizabeth Wertenberger has stepped up into the big leagues. On Saturday, the Dundee, Mich., resident will compete against 52 other women from across the country in her biggest pageant yet — Miss America.

Crowned Miss Michigan in June, Wertenberger, 22, graduated from Dundee High School. In May, she graduated with a bachelors degree in interior design from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Her journey into pageants began when she was 9.

"She liked to dance on stage," said her mother, Mary Ann Wertenberger. "After a while, her avenue changed. She wanted to compete for the scholarship money and promote her platform issue."

At 13, the now-Miss Michigan was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She took more than a dozen medications and underwent chemotherapy to fight off the disease. Now in full remission, she's using her crown to educate.

"That crown has a lot of power," her mother said. "You walk in there with a crown and people listen."

The Miss America Pageant is under way in Las Vegas and Wertenberger could not be reached for comment.

She has already been named a finalist for the Quality of Life award, a community service award in the pageant.

Miss America will be crowned Saturday. The pageant airs live at 7 p.m. on ABC.

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: rmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.

Baby Blue

Through a rap verse, Jay-Z has confirmed the birth of "the most beautiful girl in the world" — his newborn daughter.

The song "Glory" made its debut on his social Web site Monday — two days after he and Beyonce reportedly gave birth to a daughter, Blue Ivy.

Reps for the superstars declined requests for comment about whether the birth had occurred, as first reported by E! News. But Jay-Z's song gives fans the details, and more: "You're my child of a child from Destiny's Child."

Book deal

Elton John is writing his first book, a personal account of the AIDS crisis.

The musician says Love is the Cure: Ending the Global Aids Epidemic will include memories of friends who died of AIDS-related illnesses, including Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

The book will be published in July along with an audio book read by the British pop star. Proceeds will go to Elton John's AIDS Foundation.

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