In pageants, a girl’s disadvantaged upbringing, poverty, serious illness, physical handicaps, or past tragedies are no indication of her potential to win the crown.
In fact, dozens of young women have overcome enormous personal obstacles to achieve great success in pageants…
» After surviving a near-fatal car accident, mangled leg, and over one hundred stitches in her face, Cheryl Prewitt won the 1980 Miss America title.
» Ivian Sarcos, Miss World 2011, lost her parents when she was eight and was raised in an orphanage run by nuns.
» Miss Universe 1970, Marisol Malaret, was orphaned at age ten and raised by an impoverished, elderly aunt.
» After undergoing a double mastectomy, Joan Sewall won the 1981 Mrs. Minnesota title and made the top ten at Mrs. America.
» Mary Gainey overcame multiple birth defects and five operations to become Miss South Carolina and first runner-up to Miss America 1991.
» Carol Gist, who was born out of wedlock and raised by her mother in Detroit’s inner-city, became Miss USA 1990 and 1st runner-up to Miss Universe.
» Michelle Kline made the top ten at Miss America a year after undergoing a kidney transplant.
» Jennifer Wall mastered classical piano and made the top ten at Miss America-despite being hearing-impaired.
» Miss Teen USA 1993, Charlotte Lopez, was a foster child who had lived with six families over thirteen years.
» After surviving cancer, Terri Sue Liford became Miss Michigan and competed at Miss America with a wig to conceal her hair loss from chemotherapy.
» Kimberly Aiken survived a life-threatening aneurysm and brain surgery at age eleven to become Miss America 1994.
» Miss 1992 World-America, Sharon Beldon, was an orphan.
As these winners prove, even the most devastating circumstances needn’t limit a girl’s ability to be a champion.
The inspirational proof is Heather Whitestone, who won the 1995 Miss America title despite being deaf since infancy.
The remarkable young woman read the judges’ lips during her personal judges interview, read Regis Philbin’s questions during a live on-stage interview before millions of television viewers, and performed a classical ballet to music she couldn’t hear by memorizing the beats.
Heather attributes her winning attitude to her mother’s advice: “Remember, the last four letters in American are ‘I CAN’!”
As the courageous titleholders demonstrate, only hard work and perseverance can determine how much she can ultimately accomplish.
Whatever personal obstacles you face as you pursue the crown, never underestimate your potential.