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Imlay City's very own 'sweetheart'


New York documentarians stop in town to film Ms. Senior Sweetheart Pageant contestant



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Sharon and Harold Maloney celebrate Sharon’s accomplishment after competition in 2007 senior pageant.
July 23, 2008
What's a documentarian from the Big Apple doing in the heart of Celery City?

Shooting a film featuring one of the senior center's finest—Sharon Maloney.

To those who know and/or work with the 69-year-old line dance instructor and center volunteer, she's a real sweetheart. But Maloney takes that description up another notch as a past runner-up in the Ms. Senior Sweetheart Pageant. She's competing again this fall, which is why Kris Kaczor of Boss Films out of Brooklyn New York was in town. Kaczor's assignment? To shoot footage of Maloney teaching line dancing at the senior center as well as interview clips and background shots—which he and an associate did the day before in the garden at Maloney's Dryden home.

"I was a little nervous about it because I thought they would ask questions I couldn't answer," Maloney says.

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But she was wrong. The tone was conversational and pleasant, made more so by the beautiful surroundings— "I don't see my husband Harold all summer because he's working in the garden"—and the "perfect" weather.

"It was just lovely, and they were a young crew and of course I never shut up and I was thinking 'oh, golly, this is going to be like on reality tv and they can make of you what they like,'" Maloney laughs. "But it was very enjoyable. I felt like a star for a day."

Kaczor's associate had to head back to New York, but he stayed behind to shoot footage at the senior center and visit his parents, who live in Rochester, Mich.

After filming Maloney's line dancing class, Kaczor treated her and friend Fran Moenaert to lunch.

"We had a great time," Maloney says. "We found out he's got an album coming out and he'll be touring with that soon. He actually made an interesting interview himself."

"I got his autograph, just in case," Maloney laughs.

One could say that Maloney would know all about "interesting." She's currently working on her dissertation to obtain a doctorate in educational leadership. She holds a master's degree in business administration and retired at age 60 from her post as a medical technologist at Henry Ford Hospital.

For her dissertation, she's focusing on the Imlay City Senior Center group, noting that her interaction there keeps things lively and humming.

"My brain never stops working, I'm always coming up with ideas and they're just good enough to humor me," she says of the people who frequent the center. "They're a lot of fun, and the most resilient group of people I know."

Maloney got involved in pageants through a member of the group—Sister Marie Joy, who'd competed herself.

"She suggested that I give it a try and I had only two weeks to get ready so I just jumped right in," Maloney recalls.

She enjoyed it from the start, she says, mostly because it was fun.

"I enjoy the camaraderie, putting on a show together and getting yourself together is busy but fun," she says. "I never had the courage to do it when I was younger, but now I don't look at it as a beauty pageant so I felt comfortable going in."

Eligible contestants must be age 58 or older, and compete in categories that include an interview, talent and evening gown. They also must perform two dance production numbers, something that's right up Maloney's alley.

"Being a dancer is a big part of it for me," she says.

Another big part of Maloney's life is her eight grandkids, who keep her and husband Harold very busy.

"The oldest grandson is 15 and he was quarterback and MVP at his school in Mt Clemens, and my other grandson is in football and soccer, I've got a granddaughter who's a state champion gymnast in her age group for floor routine and vaulting, there are four in track at three different schools...it's the gravy of life," Maloney says. "I could just go on about my grandkids forever."

While that's true, she'll also have to prepare herself for this year's Ms. Senior Sweetheart pageant slated for the fall. Already experienced—Maloney was considered a finalist in the Ms. Senior Michigan pageants in 2003 and 2004—she's looking forward to traveling to River Falls, Massachusetts to compete.

"It's a whole week of fun that includes entertaining at nursing homes, and I'm really looking forward to it," she says.

For more information about the Ms. Senior Sweetheart Pageant visit www.msseniorsweetheart.com.

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