STEVENSVILLE — Raelyn DeGroff of Paw Paw claimed the title of Miss Heart on Sunday in front of a full house at Lakeshore High School’s auditorium.

The Miss Heart pageant dates back to 1992. It offers young women living in communities that don’t host a hometown pageant the opportunity to compete for the title of Miss Blossomtime. These communities include: Allegan, Decatur, Dowagiac, Paw Paw, Covert, Fennville, Lawton, Mattawan, Marcellus, Three Rivers and Vicksburg, as well as surrounding communities in Southwest Michigan. Seven contestants competed in this year’s Miss Heart pageant.

As Miss Heart, DeGroff will join her sister queens and compete for over $20,000 in scholarships in the Miss /Mr. Blossomtime in contest March 15-16 at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center.

DeGroff is a junior at Paw Paw High School and plans to attend Butler University in Indianapolis to seek a degree in sports broadcasting and communication. Her dream is to be a broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. She is a member of the National Honor Society, an academic all-state for competitive cheer and is a certified peer assistant leader. She is the first female member of the Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Department and hopes to obtain her certification as a firefighter and EMT. DeGroff is also involved in Girl Scouts and cheer. She is the daughter of Nikki and Jim DeGroff of Paw Paw.

Earning the title of first runner-up was Abby Ickes from Dowagiac. Ickes is a junior at Dowagiac Union High School. Ickes plans to get her RN degree from Southwestern Michigan College, then transfer to a four-year university to seek her bachelor’s degree to become a pediatric nurse. She is a member of the National Honor Society, has maintained a 4.0 GPA in her college classes and received the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence. She is involved with Chieftain Heart, the school musical, Garden Club and the Humanities Club. Ickes is the daughter of Paula and Rob Ickes of Dowagiac.

Hannah Kiggins from Niles earned the title of Miss Congeniality. Her goal is to own a small and large animal care center and be a professional photographer. Kiggins attends SMC where she is working on her associate’s degrees for veterinary technician and photography. She plans to transfer to Baker College to get her bachelor’s degree to be a veterinary technician. Kiggins was a four-year varsity letter winner and she belongs to the Niles FFA chapter. She is the daughter of Cydni and Christopher Kiggins of Dowagiac.

Also on Sunday, 14 contestants ranging in ages 13 to 15 competed for the title of Miss Teen Blossomtime. Claire Caplea of St. Joseph won the title of Miss Teen Blossomtime. She is a freshman at St. Joseph. Her parents are Kim and Casey Caplea of St. Joseph. Abigail Voss of was named first runner-up, while Abbi Kalin was second runner-up. Samantha Smith was named Miss Congeniality.

The theme of the pageant was “Friends.” The chairwoman of the Miss Heart pageant was Tiffany Jackson, with Kim Hauch chairing the Miss Teen Blossomtime pageant. Lindsay LeValley served as MC for the event.