Jackie Thurlow, current Miss Brainerd United States and a familiar face in Nisswa, promotes and lives a platform and lifestyle inspired by her father.
Born and raised in Nisswa, Jackie has an older sister, Maggie, and a younger sister, Lizzy. Lizzy has also been involved in pageants and is currently Miss Central Lakes Outstanding Teen.
Jackie is the daughter of Mimi and the late Scott “Mike” Thurlow. Jackie’s father passed away in 2007 of a severe heart attack. He has been an inspiration for Jackie’s life in several ways.
“My father, he was someone who I highly looked up to. He was so great, he contributed in so many different ways to this community,” Jackie said. “I have a bucket list at home that I keep of everything that I want to accomplish, and one of them is to be just as great as my father, and to leave just as great of a mark on this town.”
Her desire to be like her father began early for Jackie.
“I wanted to be a firefighter. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be just like him,” she said.
Her father’s death inspired both Jackie’s current career aspirations and her personal platform.
“I took that great loss and that tragedy and I turned it around and I try to put it toward something positive, and that’s what started my platform. That’s what started me wanting to become a cardiac nurse,” Jackie said.
“My goal is to help others prevent it so they don’t have to go through the same tragedy, so that they don’t have to go through the loss of a loved one,” she said.
Jackie attends Minnesota State University in Mankato and will start her junior year this fall. She will apply for the nursing program, which is her major.
Pageant competition provides another avenue for Jackie to promote heart health.
The Miss Brainerd United States pageant was Jackie’s 12th pageant. She had also competed with the Miss America organization before switching to the Miss United States organization.
Jackie explained that the reason she got involved in pageants is because of the current Miss Minnesota United States and friend, Mary Petersen.
“Two years ago, after I had competed in my first pageant ever, she said, ‘You have to try this pageant. You don’t have a choice,’ and that was the first time I ever competed for Miss Brainerd and I ended up falling in love with it,” Jackie said.
She won the title of Miss Brainerd on June 29. Jackie will next compete for the title of Miss Minnesota United States next February at the Landmark Center in St. Paul.
For Jackie, competing in pageants is about much more than receiving a title.
“It’s not all about the glitz and glam and stuff, it’s about finding an advocate for the community and someone who is going to set an example, because little girls do look up to you,” she said.
Jackie sets an example by promoting her personal platform, which is entitled “Building Healthy Hearts — Heart Disease Prevention.”
“My positive is just to prevent it, especially in children, just getting them physically active, encouraging them to eat healthier, make better choices and be heart healthy now versus later on when it’s harder to change,” Jackie said.
Besides promoting her platform and pageant-related activities, Jackie works at Urban Accents in Nisswa. She enjoys a variety of physical activities, including Rollerblading, running, swimming, biking, Zumba and tennis.
Additionally, Jackie is an auxiliary member of the Nisswa American Legion and very involved in Legion activities. The Legion sponsored her at the Miss Brainerd pageant.
“I was really honored that they sponsored me at the pageant,” Jackie said.
Jackie also helps with Thurlow T-ball, a program her father started approximately 30 years ago. This T-ball program is held in Nisswa on Thursday nights in the summer and is free.
“We just have kids 8 and under come out and just play and get them physically active and get them in love with the game,” Jackie said.
Another legacy of her father’s that Jackie carries on is a passion for volunteering.
“If I can volunteer, I will do it. Sign me up! I love volunteering because of my dad,” she said.