Kimberlee Grice - Miss Kansas 2001
Kimberlee was born and raised in the small rural town of Ulysses, Kansas. She began dreaming about being a performer at a very young age and would sing and dance any chance she could. Singing in church was where she got her start. Always singing in the hymn services, Christmas programs or solos during the offertory, Kim was constantly working to perfect her vocal talent. Her first dream of performing was realized when she took the lead role in Bye Bye Birdie in her high school production. She then played the lead role in Guys and Dolls and went to state competition for acting and forensics.
After graduating from Ulysses High School in 1996, Kim attended Butler County Community College on a vocal scholarship. She was determined to pay for school herself with scholarships she had earned for good grades and musical participation in band and choir. However, she realized that once she graduated from BCCC, she would not have the same financial support when she went on to finish her education at Wichita State University. Like many young women in the Miss America Organization, the scholarship opportunities were what won her over on the pageant system. She had never competed in a pageant before, nor really ever gave it any thought. However, the idea that she could perform, perfect her public relations skills, stay in great physical shape AND pay for school was too convincing.
She competed in 1997 at her first local pageant in her home town of Ulysses, KS. Although she only got second runner-up, she did receive $700 dollars in scholarship money. The following year she won her first title of Miss Southwest 1998. Attending Miss Kansas for the first time Kim had high hopes. She made Top 10 and won more scholarship money to continue her education.
Over the years Kim has also held the local titles of Miss Garden City 1999, Miss Wichita 2000 and Miss Kaw Valley 2001 earning Top 10 honors every year, the Margene Savage Award for vocal talent twice and the Preliminary Talent Award in 2001. Although she credits her years of experience for her Miss Kansas win in 2001, she believes that the rare set of circumstances that surrounded the six months before her win played an enormous role.
Kim's platform issue for four years had been keeping music education in schools. As a music major and seeing the positive effects that music had throughout her entire life, Kim was certain that this was the best way to make an impact as Miss Kansas. However, Kim's 19 year old brother Jarred was killed in a car accident in December of 2000. This sudden and traumatic news was offset by the realization that Jarred, with the consent of their parents, was a tissue donor. Kim's family had never discussed the option of being organ and tissue donors and after a little research, Kim realized that very few families have. Kim took this new platform to the final local pageant of the year with only a few weeks of research and preparation. She won Miss Kaw Valley 2001 in March and on June 9, 2001, exactly six months after her brother's death, she won Miss Kansas.
The roller coaster began with press interviews and appearances along with preparing for the Miss America Pageant. Kim arrived in Atlantic City, NY on September 10, 2001 with 50 other state titleholders. The next day the world watched in awe and horror as the Twin Towers fell in New York City. The following days were filled with confusion and many questions, not just about the state of the nation, but whether or not the Miss America Pageant would continue. With the contestants vote, the Miss America Pageant went on as scheduled and Kim watched as her friend from Oregon, Katie Harmon, was crowned. Kim was honored to be the first recipient of the Eleanor Andrews (Big Momma) Award for talent at Miss America.
Her reign as Miss Kansas was filled with numerous opportunities to tell her story and encourage young and old alike to share their decision and share their life as organ and tissue donors. She traveled over 40,000 miles and worked with the American Red Cross, Midwest Transplant Network, TOTO, Transplant Assistance Fund of Kansas, Kansas Children's Service League and the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing. Kim, along with her Miss America Class of 2003, wrote a book titled Under the Crown which was released in September 2002.
After her adventurous year of travel and appearances, Kim went back to finish school at Wichita State University. She graduated in 2003, without any school loans. Kim earned over 20,000 over her five years of competition, which completely paid for all her school expenses.
Kim's love of performing has continued through the years to become her profession. She has performed on many stages from Wichita, KS to Klamath Falls, OR and Appleton, WI. In her spare time, Kim has also consulted other young hopefuls in the pageant system including several local and state titleholders.
Pursuing her career as a singer and actress, Kim is currently living in Chicago, IL.