SELINSGROVE — Gina Kuhn-Robatin suffered a stroke at the age of 33 and a heart attack 14 years later. On Saturday, the Selinsgrove mother of two will compete in the Mrs. Pennsylvania International Pageant in Altoona.
"I'm excited. This is all about sharing my platform, 'Taking Your Health Back,'" said Kuhn-Robatin who wants to inspire and share with others how she educated herself and is now "in the best health I've ever been."
In 2005, Kuhn-Robatin, who runs her own permanent cosmetics and massage therapy business, and her husband, Dan, were raising two sons, Todd and Tyler, when she had a stroke, leaving her unable to walk or talk. She emerged from that health crisis only to suffer a heart attack in 2019.
She attributes her health problems in part to poor lifestyle choices.
"I was overweight," said Kuhn-Robatin, who says she is now fit after taking charge of her life. She enrolled in dietary classes, consulted with her physicians, learned how to eat properly, reduce stress and encouraged herself to stick with her health improvement journey.
"I'd been on every doctor's diet and it didn't work," she said, adding that after a "drastic lifestyle change" and an understanding of what to eat to maintain health, she lost weight and is now in good shape physically and mentally.
"I'm in a whole new place and I want to speak about that experience," Kuhn-Robatin said. "I fought the battle. I've done it."
In an effort to reach more people, Kuhn-Robatin, who competed in a pageant as a teen, decided to enter a statewide competition six weeks ago and won the title of Mrs. Selinsgrove. She was also declared among the top nine title-winners in the state who qualified to compete for the Mrs. Pennsylvania International title on Saturday at The Casino at Lakemont Park in Altoona.
Mrs. Pennsylvania International candidates must be between the ages of 21 and 56 and be married for a minimum of six months.
Dan Robatin, her husband of 27 years, will escort her on stage during the evening gown category.
"I'll back her with anything she does," he said.
For years, the couple and their sons have performed throughout the East Coast singing gospel music together and at one point Gina Kuhn-Robatin convinced the family to move to Nashville to pursue their singing career. After a few years, they returned to the Valley and have remained a strong unit.
Dan Robatin was there when his wife fought to regain her life, and then her health and describes her as "a strong person. As you can imagine it was pretty stressful never knowing from one day to the next if she would still be here. She's very dedicated to her family."
Jodi Cessna, director of the state pageant, said 50 percent of the judging is based on a private and on-stage interview with each candidate.
"We're excited to have Gina be a part of this," she said.
For Kuhn-Robatin, winning a pageant title "is not just about a pretty crown or a sash. I'm on the other side (of serious medical issues) and I want to show others how it can be done."