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Kaye Lani Rae Rafko-Wilson, RN Michigan

Kaye Lani Rae Rafko-Wilson

After winning the Miss Michigan pageant of 1987, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko-Wilson was crowned the 61st Miss America in 1988. She holds the distinction of being the very first Registered Nurse to become Miss America.

The American Nursing Association has said Kaye Lani single-handedly alleviated the national nursing shortage during her reign by speaking out on the need for more nurses. That willingness to speak out lead to individual platforms becoming part of the pageant all the way down to the local level. Since being crowned, she has used her celebrity to focus attention on the profession of nursing, hospice programs and critical health care issues including cancer and AIDS.

Kaye Lani has traveled to 49 states and 6 countries sharing her message to groups of all types as well as addressing a U.S. Congressional subcommittee on nursing issues. She has addressed medical professional organizations around the world on nursing, including groups in Malaysia, Paris, Rome and Singapore.

In addition, she has prepared numerous national and state public service announcements for nurses, volunteers and hospice programs and participated in fundraising activities for nursing scholarships sponsored by organizations such as the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association as well as hospice groups.

Not only does Kaye Lani hold the distinction of being the first Registered Nurse crowned Miss America, some of her other achievements include being named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, receiving the Monroe County Hall of Fame Award, State of Michigan Arvon Woman of Achievement Award, Mom's House "Mother of the Year" and the 2007 Liberty Bell Award.

Using her visibility as a former Miss America, Kaye Lani is a very motivational and charismatic speaker who focuses national attention on critical health care issues. Her message to nurses and allied health personnel renews their sense of pride in their professions and their mission in caring for patients and each other. Her words reach out to people due to her strong commitment to use her celebrity in making a difference in the lives of others.

Kaye Lani is married to Charles (Chuck) Wilson, with whom she has three children. She is the co-director of Gabby's Ladder, a bereavement program for children and their families.

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  • Building A Dream - Kaye Lani shares a fairy tale story of her road to Atlantic City and winning the Miss America crown! You will laugh and cry as she shares her experiences on this journey, building the foundation for her true dream: opening a hospice.

  • Enjoying The Gift - A heartwarming testimony which will re-energize every nurse who listens! Nurses make a difference everyday with their skills and compassion....but the greatest gift of nursing is that we get back more than what we give.

  • People Caring For People

  • Making a Difference
  • "Your presentation was absolutely wonderful! You touched the hearts of everyone who was there with your words and stories. Staff talked about what you shared with them for the rest of the day, which is a true testimony to any good presentation. You are wonderful role model for the Nursing profession." -- Chelsea Community Hospital

  • "Your presentation delivered an extremely inspirational message that resonated with the attendees. The Community Service Network Awards shine a spotlight on the very best efforts of electric cooperatives to serve and improve their communities. Your remarks honored both the spirit of the program and the winners." -- National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

  • "Your speech made a great impact on our volunteers. Your energy and charisma left us all with the motivation to make a difference in the world we live in today." -- Owens Corning Foundation Inc.

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