A 25-year-old Greenwich woman took the crown of Miss Connecticut Sunday night at the Marriott Hotel, while the runner-up was a Fairfield woman recently named to the New York Jets cheerleading squad.
As Desiree Perez received the crown from the reigning title holder, Erin Brady, she hinted she wanted to follow in her footsteps. Brady went on to win Miss USA and placed in the top 10 in the Miss Universe pageant Nov. 9 in Russia.
“I’m thinking back-to-back baby Connecticut,” Perez said, with a laugh.
Perez wowed the judges in a sparkling gold dress and tugged at their heartstrings with her touching story about suffering from a tumor in her jaw and having to undergo reconstructive surgery to her face. The beauty queen said she has tried to bring inspiration to others through her hardship.
“It was the only thing I could do at the time,” she said.
After the competition, Perez stood on the stage for several minutes, taking pictures with Miss Teen Connecticut, Sydney West, of Vernon, and some others.
Perez said she grew up in New York City and moved to Greenwich two years ago. She still works in the city, running a marketing company that endorses products through social media.
Since discovering she had a tumor in her jaw at age 7, Perez said she has had to receive treatments for many years. Though the tumor was benign, it required a series of operations.
“My last surgery was two years ago, but I’m healthy now,” she said.
Because she’s of Venezuelan descent, Perez said it’s natural that she has competed in pageants her whole life. She took fourth runner-up in this competition last year and wanted to give it one more shot.
“I saw it, I believed it and I think I owned it,” she said of the night. “This was my last time competing in a pageant.”
Of the 35 contestants in the pageant, Fairfield County dominated the competition by taking all of the top five spots. Along with Perez, there were women from Fairfield, Redding and Bridgeport. The fifth woman was from New Milford.