DENVER (KDVR) — Every time Elizabeth Melachrinoudis steps on stage for a competition, a careful observer can see her glance up toward the heavens. 

It’s a way to pay homage to her parents, Kosta and Shirley, who can’t be here to cheer her on as she competes to be Miss Colorado.

“I lost both of my parents to cancer when I was a teenager,” she said. “I like to think that my parents would be so proud of me.”

The 24-year-old was recently crowned Miss Denver and will vie for the Miss Colorado crown next weekend in Parker. But it’s the work done off the stage that Melachrinoudis is the most proud of.

‘I want to cure cancer’

As part of her community service initiative, she’s helped tens of thousands of people register for the National Marrow Donor Program. And 24 of these people have gone on to save the life of someone fighting cancer, according to Melachrinoudis. 

“It wasn’t something that could have helped my parents,” she said. “But it has helped 24 other families like mine get that happy ending that mine didn’t get.”

She’ll have to beat out 20 other women to win the Miss Colorado title, but she’s hopeful she’ll get a chance to represent Colorado at the Miss America competition.

“Whether I win Colorado next weekend, I will be saving lives hopefully for the rest of my life. But for me, the dream has always been to take this to the national stage,” she said. “I don’t want to bring awareness to cancer, I want to cure cancer.”