Rosalie Smith didn’t grow up in the pageant circuit, but a chance to educate others about addiction and acceptance drew her to the stage.
Smith won the title of Miss Wisconsin this past summer after competing as Miss New Berlin. At the state competition, she performed a contemporary dance routine that honored her brother Colin, who died in 2013 after battling alcohol addiction for several years.
On Oct. 26, Smith spoke to adolescents undergoing inpatient treatment for substance abuse at the Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus. It was her first time speaking at a treatment facility, and she was excited to interact with the teens, some of whom are similar in age. Smith graduated in 2014 from Waukesha North High School.
As part of her presentation – dubbed “Colin’s Crusade: Breaking the Barriers of Addiction – Smith talked about Colin’s struggles and how he successfully completed treatment but later reconnected with the same friends he had while he was using. She started a fund called Centered On Loving in Need (COLIN) that raises money to support people who can’t afford treatment.
Smith offered the Rosecrance audience several points of advice, from casting aside the shame associated with addiction to the importance of seeking help for yourself or for others who are struggling. One of the points on her slide presentation rang especially true:
“Remember no one is perfect, and if you are or become an addict, it is not the end of the road for you.”
Smith also told the crowd that she doesn’t consider her brother to be a failure because he used again. She respects the courage and strength he had to accept help and seek treatment.
“I am more proud of him than ever,” she said.