SOUTH LAKE TAHOE - Caleche Renae Manos, 23, believes in perseverance."It's my personality. I don't want to just come close, I want to win," said the South Lake Tahoe resident.Manos, who was crowned Miss Nevada 2007 last year, will compete for the title of Miss America 2008 on Jan. 26 at the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas. It wasn't an easy route, but Manos didn't give up and worked her way to the Miss America pageant by winning six local titles.She entered her first pageant at age 17 during her senior year at South Tahoe High School and was named first runner-up to Miss Lake Tahoe. From there, she won the title of Miss Silver State, was second runner-up to Miss Nevada in 2005, first runner-up to Miss Reno and Miss Nevada in 2006, and was crowned Miss Carson City in 2007.The daughter of Lolita Manos of San Diego and Rick Fall of South Lake Tahoe, Manos was raised in San Diego and was in the seventh grade when she moved to South Lake Tahoe. She was South Tahoe High School homecoming queen her senior year and captain of the cheerleading team both as a junior and senior. An ice skater since she was 4, she has competed as a figure skater and was an instructor at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena. She has ridden horses since she was a young child and also has been a trainer.Manos is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she is pursuing dual degrees in interior design and communications."I hope to own my own design firm one day," she said.Her particular interest, "The Prevention of Drinking and Driving," is the result of her only brother, Caylin John Manos, losing his life in a drunk-driving accident at age 19. She also works with the Northern Nevada DUI Task Force and is the Nevada spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.For her talent, Manos will sing "a fun rock-pop song in a rock concert-type performance."Miss Nevada will leave today for Las Vegas, where she will be involved in a variety of activities and rehearsals every day until the Miss America pageant, which will be broadcast live Jan. 26 on TLC."I'm so excited about the pageant taking place in Nevada, where I'm the hostess," she said. "What I enjoy most about competing in the pageant is all the great friends I've made. It is a most fulfilling experience. "The caliber of people the organization attracts is fantastic. I truly have a Nevada family, and they have been by my side all the way. I believe the most important thing in life is relationships." Manos encourages all young women ages 17 to 24 to compete in the pageants to further their education with scholarships and opportunities to serve in their communities as role models.The 52 contestants' journey to become Miss America can be followed as part of the reality show, "Miss America: Reality Check," airing at 10 p.m. Friday and Jan. 25 on TLC.The contestants spent 10 days in a 20,000-square-foot mansion in Los Angeles in November getting to know one another and preparing for the pageant. The purpose of the show is to allow the public to learn about the contestants before the big night. Four episodes were filmed, and two already have aired. Information about reruns is available on the TLC Web site at tlc.discovery.com/tv/miss-america/.At the beginning of the Miss America pageant, all 52 contestants will be introduced. Then the 15 chosen by the judges will be announced. In addition, a 16th contestant, who will be chosen from the 52 by the public, will be named. To vote for your favorite contestant, visit the Web site at www.MissAmerica.org. Votes can be made once a day, everyday, until Jan. 26."I would appreciate it if everyone would vote every day for me," said Caleche Manos, the reigning Miss Nevada.
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