Photo courtesy of Miss Washington Teen USA: Stormy and Summer Keffeler have raised $1,700 so far for their nonprofit Play on Sports, which helps kids from low-income families access athletic opportunities.
Photo courtesy of Miss Washington Teen USA: Stormy and Summer Keffeler have raised $1,700 so far for their nonprofit Play on Sports, which helps kids from low-income families access athletic opportunities.

Summer Keffeler asserts she still has time for friends and sleep between going to school full-time, her competitive dance schedule and balancing her duties as Miss Washington Teen USA. 

Since the Monroe resident was crowned at the start of November, her life has been a whirlwind, she said. On top of it all, she runs a nonprofit with her older sister and former holder of the same title, Stormy Keffeler. Last month the two donated $1,700 to Play on Sports, which connects local athletes from low-income families with athletic opportunities.

“I grew up watching my sister play every sport under the sun,” Keffeler said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have the athletic gene.”

Keffeler said she found herself lacking coordination in each arena, which kept her from playing most physical activities. She tried everything her mother, Denise, said, but it just wasn’t her niche. Luckily, at age 9, she found dance.

It was a good fit, she said. It taught her about work ethic and how to pursue “something you want until you achieve it.” In her younger years she also struggled in school, but as she has aged academics have also become an area of success.

In the fourth grade Keffeler found out she had ADD. The diagnosis has led her to put more effort into learning time-management skills. The 15-year-old is now an honor roll student at Monroe High School.

Throughout her adolescence, Keffeler was also navigating the pageant world. She started competing when she was 6 months old. She says she matured as a person along with her prowess for the contests.

“It isn’t enough just to be cute or pretty anymore,” she said. “You have to be educated and want to positively impact the world in some way.”

For years she thought she would be a writer; Keffeler loves English. These days though she is looking to leverage her natural compatibility with children to become a preschool teacher or delve into one of her passions — sports medicine. Her ideal job would be to work as an athletic trainer for the Seattle Seahawks.

At Monroe’s Platinum Dance Center, Keffeler has been introduced to all styles of dance — everything except ballroom, which she would like to try eventually. Keffeler’s favorite is lyrical. She said it feels graceful and fluid.

“It tells a story,” Denise Keffeler said. “Each word has its own movements.”

Keffeler said of course she has gone through periods of doubt, whether she wanted to continue with dance or keep competing in pageants. Both always pulled her back in though.

“I realized nothing is going to make me feel the way dance does,” she said.

Once she reached high school she found herself taking more time for self-reflection. She had to figure out who she wanted to be. She decided she wanted to become the title-holder she would hope to see in someone else. Eventually, her introspection led to another passion.

Less than a year ago she and her sister, Stormy Keffeler, started kickboxing together. The sport builds both psychical and mental skills. It also allows Keffeler to spend more time with one of her biggest role models and supporters. She doesn’t know how she would have made it this far without Stormy Keffeler.

This spring Keffeler will be headed to the Miss Teen USA pageant. The location has yet to be determined, her mother said, and could take place in either spring or summer. She believes her daughter will be as prepared as she can and has a good chance at taking the title, but nothing in these competitions is ever a guarantee.

“This is pretty much the Super Bowl of pageantry,” Keffeler said.

For a week she will be cut off from friends and family, who will only be allowed to watch from afar. If she wins, it would be the first time someone from Washington takes the title.

Keffeler said the world of pageantry has evolved into much more than the beauty contests many associate the competitions with. It is essential to be well rounded and promote self-acceptance.

“You have to have a heart and have a brain,” she said.

Between appearances and events, Keffeler has been able to balance it all and raise money with her sister for their organization. Denise Keffeler said the family has always been very community oriented and chooses to help build equal access for those with more barriers to entry.

Stormy Keffeler’s goal is to raise $10,000 for Play on Sports by the time Keffeler gives back the crown next fall. As of last month, they have donated $1,700 raised through the pageant community and with the help of Monroe’s AWC Roofing, LLC.

Keffeler said she also wants to use this time to help the organization’s impact stretch statewide. It is a big goal, but completely achievable, she said.