Miss Delaware Kayla Martell’s mission. Plus, meet the face behind Facemate, get a read on Dionne Warwick’s co-writer, and picture Kevin Fleming’s wild kingdom.
Kayla Martell competes for the title of Miss America. Her mission? To win for the millions of other Americans who have alopecia areata.
In the days before the immediacy of the Internet, most of the people who watched Miss Alabama Heather Leigh Whitestone win the 1995 Miss America Pageant did not know that at the age of 18 months, she had lost her hearing. What America saw that evening was an angel dancing ballet on the stage. Only later did she become a role model and spokeswoman for those who cannot hear.
When Miss Delaware Kayla Martell walks down the runway at the 2011 Miss America Pageant this month, millions will have already heard her story. She has been on the “CBS Morning Show,” ABC’s “20/20,” “ET Insider” and in national newspapers, She’s been the topic of discussion on “The View” and, at last count, there were more than 30 clips about Martell on YouTube.
Martell is one of 4.7 million Americans who have alopecia areata, a non-life-threatening autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles, thus slowing or halting hair growth.
The 22-year-old beauty from Milford has been bald since she was 10, but it has not stopped her from living an active life, one that includes winning several competitions in Delaware and appearing in the most prestigious beauty pageant in the nation.
Will she carry an agenda with her to the Miss America stage? Martell prefers to call it a mission, delivered by a conduit. Just as her idol, Whitestone, has championed the deaf, Martell dedicates countless hours speaking on behalf of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
“I believe I was supposed to lose my hair,” Martell says. “It has made me special, and so many doors have opened because of it. My crown is my microphone, and when I compete, I compete for the 5 million other people who have alopecia areata.”
The 2011 Miss America Pageant will be televised live on ABC from Las Vegas on January 15. —Richard L. Gaw
Page 2: In Your Face | If an entrepreneur from Smyrna gets his way, you will soon find you new Facemate with the logo of your favorite NFL team, cartoon character or...
If an entrepreneur from Smyrna gets his way, you will soon find your new Facemate with the logo of your favorite NFL team, cartoon character or…
John Wagenhoffer hopes he has created the biggest thing from Delaware since Dogfish Head beer and Joe Biden. His Facemate is a sticky, flexible frame that wraps your computer monitor so you can display everything from photos to grocery lists without using tape. “It’s as simple as turning your monitor into a billboard,” says Wagenhoffer, CEO of Smyrna-based Iconic Tsunami, which produces and markets his invention.
Facemate is made and packaged in little ol’ Delaware, which makes it a big hit with local economic development folks. The box is made at Color-Box in Harrington. The Facemate itself is made at Atlantis Industries Corp. in Milton. “It’s not cold fusion, and it’s not the cure for cancer. It’s a novelty item,” Wagenhoffer says. “But it’s all done here.”
Wagenhoffer began a national marketing blitz in October, selling Facemate through SkyMall, a catalog seen by more than 650 million air travelers a year, and airing one-minute commercials before movies at four theaters from Manhattan to Fairfax, Virginia. Television viewers have likely seen Facemate advertised since Thanksgiving on channels that carry “As Seen on TV”-type ads. Wagenhoffer is also working on licensing agreements with the NFL and other organizations.
“Millionaire would be nice, but I’m looking for financial stability,” he says. “I have twin 1 ½-year-old daughters and a 10-year-old son. I’d like to be able to pay for college, the girls’ weddings. It’s a level of comfort.”
For more, visit iconictsunami.com. —Drew Ostroski
Page 3: Celebrating with Dionne | Local producer David Wooley has written another book with legendary singer Dionne Warwick, but their story doesn’t end there.
Celebrating with Dionne
Local producer David Wooley has written another book with legendary singer Dionne Warwick, but their story doesn’t end there.
David Freeman Wooley has produced Dionne Warwick’s shows for 20 years. Now they are successful writing partners, too. Their first book, “Say a Little Prayer,” was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2009. Their latest, “My Life, As I See It,” is on bookshelves now. The biography details Warwick’s journey from singing in church at age 6 to becoming one of the most celebrated voices in the world. Wooley’s latest production was Warwick’s 50th anniversary gala at Lincoln Center in October. “The show was phenomenal,” he says. Known across the country, he’s a bit of a mystery at home in Wilmington. He’s a respected producer, having worked with Wynton Marsalis and The O’Jays. He also has booked such luminaries as Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, Queen Latifah, The Temptations and Lou Rawls in Delaware. An adjunct professor at Wilmington University since 1996, Wooley has taught marketing to hundreds. “Collaborating on this book with Dionne Warwick has been an amazing journey,” he says. “She’s a phenomenal woman who is truly a living legend and a global icon.” “My Life, As I See It,” published by Simon & Schuster, is available at major bookstores. —Maria Hess
Page 4: Wild Kingdom | Photographer Keving Fleming's first book of wildlife photography, "Wild Delaware," was hugely popular. For "Wild Delmarva," Fleming has expanded his focus. The result? Simply wild.
Photographer Kevin Fleming’s first book of wildlife photography, “Wild Delaware,” was hugely popular. For “Wild Delmarva,” Fleming has expanded his focus. The result? Simply wild.
Photographer Kevin Fleming’s new coffee table book picks up where his “Wild Delaware” left off. But for this beauty, Fleming expanded his range, turning his lens on the wildlife of all Delmarva.
“I like the photography in this book. I’m a better wildlife photographer than I was when I shot ‘Wild Delaware,’” Fleming says. “With ‘Wild Delmarva,’ I had a wider canvas. It’s Delaware, plus a lot more stuff.”
A Smyrna native, Fleming has published numerous books about the First State and traveled the world as a photographer for National Geographic. He spent two years shooting “Wild Delmarva,” visiting wildlife hotbeds such as Smith Island and Conowingo, Maryland.
Some of Fleming’s favorite shots are a great blue heron flying with a clapper rail in its bill, egrets silhouetted against a reddish-orange sunset and a pair of wide-eyed fox kits peering from a hollow tree.
“I caught some amazing lifetime shots, life-and-death struggles,” he says. “I saw 40 bald eagles at one time. Wild Delmarva has a lot of moments in it.”
Fleming hopes the book will be more popular than its predecessor, which he says outsold a “Harry Potter” novel in Delaware two-to-one during one 30-day stretch. Next?
“I need to catch my breath,” Fleming says. “I might start on ‘Wild America.’ I’ll give myself two years on that project. I may do a book, ‘Above Delmarva’—all aerials. I’ve been a pilot for 30 years. I might get an ultralight and look at Delmarva.”
For more on “Wild Delmarva,” visit wilddelmarva.com. —Drew Ostroski