30th March 2015

Beating the odds to wear the crown

We’re all things chic and glam on this site but true beauty lies in the story we, as women , pack and this woman packs a mean one. From fighting for her life on a daily basis to fighting for a chance to reign over her country as Miss America, Julia Rae is an inspiration to many, and even that would be an understatement that does not do her justice.

julia rae

After hearing about her life, her story and her dream to become Miss America, there was no question that she needed to be featured in one of our Be Inspired features.

Julia was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis before she was born (her older brother, Will, was diagnosed when he was a year old), instead of shrinking back she chose to pursue every single dream and not let the challenges of CF stop her.

julia rae

She’s a singer, actress, model and founder of ‘Singing at the top of my lungs‘, among many titles, including wearing the crown as the new Miss Philadelphia.

This lady is what royalty is made of and we’re so honored to have Julia share her story of overcoming adversity, and her dreams of becoming Miss Pennsylvania and hopefully our new Miss America.


Thank you! I have yet to come down from cloud 9! I am most excited about using the visibility this title gives to educate people about cystic fibrosis and the positive impact child life and music therapy has on hospitalized children. Attending Philadelphia sporting events is a serious perk of the job, as well.


I have always been a believer that it takes more than medicine to get well. I have never known life without a chronic illness, so I learned from a young age to rely on my support system, my family and my child life specialists. Child Life Specialists normalize the hospital experience for young patients and help the patient, their parents and their siblings, cope. I also turned to music as an outlet for my emotions as I faced overwhelming hospitalizations and health scares. I want to do all that I can to support patients and their emotional well-being as they face their own challenges. My nonprofit organization, Singing at the Top of My Lungs, is devoted to raising funds for both cystic fibrosis research and child life departments in children’s hospitals. You can learn more at www.singingatthetopofmylungs.com.


First and foremost, I start my day off with a breathing treatment – a nebulizer and 30 minutes on my Vest, which shakes my lungs. Even if I have an early morning appearance or television interview, I set my alarm a half hour earlier to make sure I get that treatment in so I can breathe easier throughout the day. I typically do my hair and makeup during my breathing treatments to be super efficient! Then I am off to classes at Fordham University in Manhattan, or I am on the job as Miss Philadelphia serving the community.  


The messages I receive from parents of hospitalized children and CF patients themselves, keep me going. I am inspired to keep “singing at the top of my lungs” for those that cannot. 


Setting new goals for myself has always been a way I overcome. 2010 was a difficult year for me as I was hospitalized several times due to my cystic fibrosis. First, I allowed myself some time to grieve about the lost opportunities that year. I think we all need some time to acknowledge the pain of the challenges we face. Then, I began to refocus my energy on developing a new fundraiser for Singing at the Top of My Lungs.  Continuing to dream in spite of the struggles I may be facing helps me pull through the darkest of times.


Don’t let your challenges define your dreams. Singing and fighting a lung disease don’t exactly go hand-in-hand, but I refuse to let cystic fibrosis keep me from pursuing my greatest passions. 

Q7 Julia Rae

My dog, Boo Radley, takes up most of my spare time. Named for a character in my favorite book To Kill a Mockingbird, he is a four pound rescue with a four hundred pound personality! I love “unplugging” and taking Boo on walks. I also love playing sports with my brothers. 


My biggest dream at the moment is becoming Miss America! If I win Miss Pennsylvania on June 13th, I am on my way to making that dream come true September 2015! 


A cure for cystic fibrosis. 


The Grenadines in the Caribbean — to visit a great friend of mine and to see the stunning contrast of the lush greenery and crystal blue water for myself!


Iced coffee with a splash of cream – even on the coldest Philadelphia winter days! 


Will you join us in cheering her on to Miss America?