The tragic loss of a brother and encouragement from a friend spurred Tulsa’s Michelle Evans to do something she never had considered previously: enter a beauty pageant.

“I lost my brother, Joshua Wilson, four years ago to a prescription drug overdose, and it was something that tugged at my heart,” Evans said. “I have a website, drugfreeok.org, as a resource for people seeking assistance or help to find local treatment facilities, and a friend encouraged me to enter the Mrs. America pageant as an avenue to get my voice out there.

“I did not know how prescription drug abuse would be received as a cause for the pageant because there are so many serious issues, but I know Oklahoma is one of the leading states for drug abuse, and I think everyone views it as a national problem.

“Addiction is addiction, and it is devastating.”

Evans won the state pageant on March 22 in Guthrie, then captured the Mrs. America title last Friday night in Tucson, Arizona.

The contestants came from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. After a welcoming dinner and photo shoot, the women interviewed with the five judges.

“One of the judges was Christopher Knight, who was Peter Brady on ‘The Brady Bunch,’” Evans said.

All of the contestants also participated in the preliminary competition that included swimsuit, evening gown and state costume.

“I won the state costume over all the other women,” Evans said. “My costume represented Indian women in Oklahoma. It was exciting to win that.”

Evans was among the top 15 to make the Friday finals. After the field was cut to six, Evans said she had to answer a question from the judges to make the final three, then another question before being crowned Mrs. America.

Evans will compete for Mrs. World on Nov. 11-19 in Solomons Island, Maryland.

“The World contest was supposed to be in Russia this year, but because of all that is going on there, they moved it to Maryland,” she said. “I have heard they will try to go to Russia next year, and I would make that trip.”

Evans is the third Oklahoma woman to be crowned Mrs. America. Jennifer Johnson won in 1989 and Kimberly Brasher in 1995.

Evans, 30, works as a prenatal intensive care nurse at Hillcrest South Hospital and is married to Heath Evans, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. They have a 1-year-old daughter, Camden Faith Evans.

“Being a neonatal intensive care nurse has its challenges, but I am grateful and humbled to get the opportunity to offer care to families at such a critical and precious moment in their lives,” Evans said.

Michelle and Heath both attended Union middle schools but did not meet until she was a student at Southwestern State University, where she was a member of the women’s soccer team, and Heath was in dental school at the University of Oklahoma.

“After he graduated from dental school, he did his residency in New York,” Evans said. “We spent four amazing years living on Long Island before we came home.”

Evans said in her free time she enjoys crafting and do-it-yourself projects such as chalkboard art, party planning, sewing and calligraphy.

“You name it, and I’ll try it,” she said.

Evans said she and her husband also make an effort to live a healthful lifestyle.

“I am a YouTube fanatic when it comes to quick workouts, and I love searching the Internet for healthy recipes,” she said.

As Mrs. America, Evans said during the coming year she will take her message of drug abuse prevention to as many places as possible, particularly schools.

“I go to lots of schools and would love to go to more,” she said.

Evans said those interested about contacting her for a speaking engagement should email her at Mrsamerica2015@gmail.com.

Scott Cherry 918-581-8463

scott.cherry@tulsaworld.com

Scene Writer

Scott is in his second tour of duty with the Tulsa World. He was a sports writer during his first stop. Since returning to the World in 1992, he has been the food writer and now restaurant critic and wine columnist. Phone: 918-581-8463