Both the pageant and Miss Florida Courtney Sexton now reside in Polk County’s largest city, Lakeland.
Last year, The Miss Florida Pageant made Lakeland its new home. Now, Miss Florida herself has followed suit, with reigning Miss Florida Courtney Sexton moving into newly completed NOBAY Village.
To event executive director Mary Sullivan, the move makes perfect sense. “The 82 year old Miss Florida Pageant moved its home in 2016 to Lakeland and immediately committed to becoming invested in the community,” said Mary Sullivan, the executive director of The Miss Florida Pageant. “Our first priority was to relocate our Miss Florida titleholder to live in Lakeland.”
Located in the heart of Lakeland at the intersection of Bay Street and Kentucky Avenue, NOBAY consists of 55 residential units as well as retail space and parking at 311 N. Kentucky Ave., downtown. The management team at NOBAY sees their involvement with Miss Florida as the start of something bigger.
“Both Broadway Real Estate and NOBAY believe in the importance of giving back to our community, with all of our principals playing major leadership roles in various Lakeland civic organizations,” said Matt Clark, president of Broadway Real Estate, the developers of NOBAY. “We also believe in the importance of a vibrant urban core and tirelessly expend energy and funds into our amazing downtown organizations and the future growth and development of Downtown Lakeland. We believe hosting Miss Florida at NOBAY will further expand these efforts and allow Miss Florida to help promote all the great things happening in and around our Lakeland community.”
Being in the middle of everything is a perfect location for Sexton, said Sullivan, due to Sexton’s desire for involvement in the community.
“Through civic engagement, our belief is that people will have a better understanding of who we are and what we stand for,” said Sullivan of Sexton’s civic activities. “We want to give back to the community that has been so welcoming to us and develop partnerships that will benefit both our all-volunteer organization and the organizations and businesses that we serve.”
Sexton and The Miss Florida organization will be working with two local charity organizations, Florida Baptist Children’s Home and Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, to further their commitment to volunteerism. Not only will Sexton be involved in numerous events and appearances for Florida Baptist Children’s Home, she will also donate her Miss America Serves day, an annual day of service in which all Miss America contestants participate, to the facility.
“The Miss Florida Organization is a true partner for children in need in Lakeland and throughout Florida,” said Katy Martin, vice president of communications for Florida Baptist Children’s Home. “We are thankful for their willingness to roll up their sleeves to volunteer at our Lakeland headquarters – meeting tangible and immediate needs that exist within our community.”
Sexton, who is currently working toward a master’s degree in Health Administration from the University of Central Florida, will also participate in the annual Swan Derby for Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine. To Sullivan, the commitment to service is a must.
“Miss Florida is a role model to young and old alike,” she said. “Miss Florida is more than a title, it’s a movement of empowering young women in our state to achieve their dreams by giving them a voice to inspire change and by honoring their commitment to helping others.”