Wahoo native to raise scholarship money with bike ride

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By KEVIN ABOUREZK / Lincoln Journal Star

Monday, Sep 15, 2008 - 12:22:24 am CDT

A 1954 Wahoo High School graduate turned senior beauty and bicycling queen wants to raise money for her alma mater through a 1,400-mile bike ride.

Patricia Eliason Starr, 71, who now lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., is hoping to raise money for a music scholarship at her old high school.

“I went to Wahoo High, this is how I got through school, because someone cared enough to set up scholarships for me,” Starr said. “Now I have found a way that I can give back.”

Story Photo
Wahoo native Patricia Eliason Starr (shown here) is raising money for a music scholarship at Wahoo High School through a 1,400-mile bike ride from Wahoo to Atlantic City, N.J. (Courtesy photo)
How to help

Wahoo native Patricia Eliason Starr is hoping to raise money for a music scholarship at Wahoo High School.

She is biking 1,400 miles from Wahoo to Atlantic City, N.J., to raise the money and compete in the Ms. Senior America Pageant.

Donations to the scholarship can be sent to the Patricia Starr Fund, Greater Wahoo Development Fund, 640 N. Broadway, Wahoo, NE 68066.

Starr will embark Friday from Wahoo High School and expects to arrive in Atlantic City, N.J., on Oct. 9. There, she plans to represent Nebraska in the Ms. Senior America Pageant to be held Oct. 19-25 at Harrah’s Resort Hotel and Casino.

A professional musician and music teacher, Starr hopes her journey will help promote music education in the nation’s public schools.

“It just keeps getting cut and cut and cut from the budgets,” she said.

But reports have shown music education helps children succeed in all of their studies, she said.

It won’t be her first ride across the country.

In 2004, she pedaled 3,600 miles from Astoria, Ore., to Portsmouth, N.H., to establish a music scholarship at Santa Barbara City College in California. She is writing a book chronicling the adventures of the ride titled “Angel on My Handlebars.”

Neither will it be her first beauty pageant.

In 1957, she competed as Miss Wahoo in the Miss America State Pageant in Nebraska, a contest she didn’t win. She did win the Ms. Senior California title in 2006.

She said she’s looking forward to representing Nebraska, and her hometown, in a national pageant.

“Who would have ever dreamt that I would have a chance to represent Wahoo again?” she said.

Starr said she’s the only contestant in this year’s Ms. Senior America Pageant planning to arrive on bike. She said she’s worked hard most her life to take care of her body and prepare for such excursions.

“I do believe in exercise and I do believe in eating correctly and I do not smoke,” she said.

Alyce Parker, vice president of public affairs for Harrah’s Entertainment, said Harrah’s is looking forward to welcoming Starr with a big bottle of water.

“Patricia is showing us that seniors are healthy and they are able to do wonderful tasks,” Parker said.

Reach Kevin Abourezk at 473-7225 or kabourezk@journalstar.com.