After 2 years of marriage, Shannon Ford and her husband Ray wanted to start a family. After an unsuccessful year of trying, they received the diagnosis…Unexplained Infertility. Two more years followed with test after test, treatment after treatment and still no baby. Having already spent thousands of dollars thus far, they were now facing the challenges that so many couples face every day, how could they financially afford to continue to “TRY” and start a family, with no guarantee of success.
Then in 2015, Shannon was fortunate to be admitted into an IVF clinical study called the IVY Study. This study provided a single round of In Vitro fertilization (IVF) at a significantly reduced cost. For 2 months, Shannon and her husband Ray drove 4 hours each way for doctors’ appointments, all with the hope of starting their family. In December 2015, that dream was realized with birth of their son, Rider.
Now as an advocate for Fertility Within Reach, Shannon’s mission is that everyone have access to fertility treatment benefits and the opportunity to bring home healthy babies. Shannon is also an ambassador for the Baby Quest Foundation, which provides grants twice a year to couples seeking financial assistance with the cost of IVF.
A graduate of Florida International University with a B.A. in Psychology, the former Miami Dolphins Cheerleader and Ambassador, is currently the Regional Human Resources Manager for an International CPA firm. Shannon is also a national spokesperson for Celiac Disease Awareness, an autoimmune disease she was diagnosed with in 2009 which requires her to maintain a gluten free diet for the remainder of her life. She has graced the cover of two national publications in sharing her story with others.
Shannon, Ray & Rider currently reside in Pembroke Pines, Florida with their two rescue dogs, Sugar Bear and Shiva. Shannon was recently crowned Mrs. Florida America 2019 and will be competing for the title of Mrs. America 2020 in Las Vegas. The pageant will take place at the Westgate Las Vegas on August 24, 2019.
The Mrs. America Pageant, the fastest growing pageant system of its kind in the world, has emerged as one of the most important events of its kind. It annually attracts thousands of women representing every segment of our society.
The Mrs. Florida-America Pageant, Florida’s state preliminary to the Mrs. America Pageant, is the Sunshine State’s premiere Mrs. pageant. Mrs. Florida-America annually represents the Sunshine State in the Mrs. America Pageant.
For over 30 years, the Mrs. America Pageant was created to recognize the one person most ignored in all beauty competitions, America’s married woman. Most significantly, it is the only internationally televised pageant exclusively dedicated to our nation’s sixty million wives. Mrs. America annually represents the United States in the Mrs. World Pageant that is televised world-wide.
April Lufriu is a Tampa Bay native, wife, mother, business owner, model and volunteer. For years, she has worked with the Foundation Fighting Blindness, in international charity organization aimed at funding research for the prevention, treatment and cures of retinal degenerative diseases. In 2007, she and her sister Melissa established the Tampa chapter and have worked tirelessly advocating and fundraising for the foundation.
In 2010, a family diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a type of degenerative disease that eventually leads to blindness, made April determinded to do more. With the motivation of raising awareness for the disease and the foundation, April competed for and won the 2011 titles of Mrs. Ybor City, Mrs. Florida America, Mrs. America, and finally Mrs. World.
The titles have provided April a platform to further her mission as a mother to find a cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa. As Mrs. World, she has spoken in several countries and had her story published in multiple media outlets. April was also named the national spokesperson for the Foundation Fighting Blindness and is currently a member of the board of trustees.