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Miss Florida USA climbs Cedar Keys Lighthouse

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By Kellie Parkin

To help spread the word about Visit Our Lights, the Florida Lighthouse Association specialty license plate, FLA has joined forces with Megan Clementi, Miss Florida USA 2010. 

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Beginning this year, Megan has combined her love of lighthouses with her desire to bring awareness to another important issue: breast cancer.  “One in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer,” Megan said. “When I looked around me at all the women in my life, I knew that I needed to do something.”  So Megan created the Climb for the Cure initiative. “I’d heard of people who ‘Race for the Cure,’ so I decided that I would climb for it,” she said. Megan chose the foundation Susan G Komen for the Cure as her charity and will climb all 30 lighthouses in Florida as a way to draw attention to the cause. “My hopes are that I am able to raise awareness and funds for Susan G Komen and encourage locals to learn about the maritime heritage of their lighthouse,” said Megan, who graduated last year with her Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Central Florida. According to its Web site www.komen.org, Susan G Komen for the Cure has invested more than $1.3 billion in cancer research and awareness since its inception in 1982.  On Friday afternoon, Megan and her dad Mike met up with FLA president Stan Farnham, Stan’s wife Mary, and FLA members David and Alice D’Amicol for a tour of the island and a climb of the Cedar Keys Lighthouse. David and Alice were in charge of organizing FLA’s events in the Cedar Keys and arranging for Miss Florida’s visit. “This is my favorite lighthouse,” Alice said. “David and I have been giving the tours of the lighthouse and cemeteries for the last 10 years during the Seafood Festival weekend. We enjoy sharing the lighthouse and grounds and educating many enthused visitors each year.” Approximately 300-450 people visit Seahorse Key during the festival weekend, she said.  Alice noted that Visit Our Lights is the only license plate designated for preservation. “We feel the visit by Miss Florida USA will help us get the information out about the tag so more people will be aware of it and purchase it,” she said. “Cedar Key lighthouse is in grave danger structurally and we want to be able to get a grant from the FLA to keep the lighthouse from falling into further disrepair.”  For more information about the Florida Lighthouse Association or its specialty license plate tag, visit www.floridalighthouses.org. For more information about Megan Clementi’s Climb for the Cure, visit www.info-komen.org/goto/climb_for_ the_cure.    Visit Our Lights in Levy County   Of the 2,110 Visit Our Lights specialty license plates sold to date, only five were purchased in Levy County, home of the Cedar Keys Lighthouse.  By comparison, in 2009 when those five plates were sold, the top three specialty plates purchased or renewed in Levy County were Agriculture Education (193), Agriculture (222), and University of Florida (723). In 2009, Levy County residents purchased or renewed a total of 3,593 specialty plates.   See Lighthouse lovers visit Cedar Key for related story.