10 Sep 2013

Chelsea-RickLast week I spent about two hours with a group of folks in Amory who are helping Miss Mississippi Chelsea Rick as she goes for the crown at the Miss America pageant this weekend.

Rick, a Fulton native, won the Miss Amory Railroad pageant last year and won the Miss Mississippi pageant earlier this summer. Her team of coaches and hostesses include the Miss Amory Railroad pageant director Bo Miller, Dot Forbus, Jean Sanders, MJ. Westerlund, Ellen Boyd and Steve Stockton.

I didn’t have space to get in all of their interesting observations and insights, so here we go.

  • Rick’s platform, Full Plates, Healthy States, focuses on hunger awareness. When she was 13, she became aware of childhood hunger when she noticed a classmate’s stomach growling through class, Boyd said. She’s in medical school now, and Stockton said it’s “very, very rare” that a Miss America contestant is in the middle of med school while competing in the pageant. “All of these girls have career goals,” Stockton said of the Miss America contestants.
  • Rick has already won more than $30,000 in scholarships. She’s a top 5 finalist for the STEM scholarship and a top 7 finalist for the Quality of Life scholarship.
  • There’s a “Show Us Your Shoes” parade of the contestants at Atlantic City, where the pageant is held, and they each wear something that represents their state. Rick chose to celebrate 50 years of Mississippi medical firsts, and her outfit includes a rhinestone lab coat and rhinestone stethoscopes on her shoes.
  • Pageants are an expensive hobby. Rick’s crew helped her raise funds for the competitions and her prep work, which included a trip in this past January to see how Miss America works. “It really, truly has been a team effort,” Miller said.
  • Rick’s personal trainer is Aberdeen police officer Diarra Giddens, who’s also a trainer at NMMC.
  • Rick’s gowns – including the white gown she wore in the Miss Mississippi pageant – come from A Stitch in Time in Amory.
  • Pageant interviews are intense. Judges toss out questions at the same time and cover everything from hot political topics to personal questions, like what your favorite color is or if you kiss on the first date. It’s important that candidates answer quickly and honestly and can win the judges over, and they are expected to be up-to-date on breaking news.
  • Rick will perform the same song she sang at the Miss Mississippi pageant for her talent in Miss America.
  • All of the Miss America contestants are under heavy security at Atlantic City, where the pageant takes place. “A girl is never alone,” said Boyd, who has been a hostess at the national pageant. Atlantic City is where the pageant originated.
  • Rick sent seven trunks from Vicksburg to Atlantic City ahead of her arrival, and then four pieces of luggage and two carry on’s with her, Miller said.
  • “We prepared Chelsea like she was going to Miss America, not Miss Mississippi,” Miller said about their work for the state crown. “What a refreshing change it is to have a beautiful young women who want to make a difference in the world, when you have Miley Cyruses embarrassing themselves on TV.”
  • This year’s Miss Amory Railroad pageant is Oct. 19.

Be sure to watch the Miss America pageant Sunday at 8 p.m.