Crowning the Queens

Pageant benefits Relay for Life

by Lauren Dunn

Bouncing curls, sparkling crowns and mountains of pink covered the gym of New Covenant United Methodist Church in Mount Holly on April 16. Eagerly awaiting their turn to spin, twirl and blow kisses at the judges, 46 bright-eyed girls, from four months to 18 years old, lined up along the wall leading up to the stage door to compete in the 2011 Miss Lincoln County and Miss Gaston County Relay Queen pageant.

But, for these girls, their purpose went above and beyond earning a crown. All of the contestants’ earnings went to the East Lincoln Relay for Life, to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Having lost her father and cousin from cancer, pageant coordinator Wendy Sellers said she believes strongly in giving to the American Cancer Society. “(Cancer) has just robbed us of too many people,” Sellers said. “That’s why I chose the American Cancer Society, because I really believe in their mission of finding a cure for cancer.

On the day that the contestants come in they will have a little box that they’ve made with their picture on it. We won’t charge admission so what we ask people to do is to take the money they would’ve paid for admission and go vote in those boxes.”

By the beginning of the pageant the girls had collectively raised a total of $3,866, almost tripling Sellers expectations. “I was completely blown away by the boxes they made and the money they raised,” Sellers boasted of the girls. Frankie Gardner and Megan Womack were crowned Relay Sweetheart for earning the most money.

Frankie Gardner’s mother, Christy, says they worked very hard to raise the money. “We did a lot of fundraising, because my father passed away from lung cancer a little over a year ago,” Christy said. A baby-faced Frankie, on the other hand, seemed to be more interested in her new attire than her new title. “I like my scarf,” she exclaimed, referring to her sash.

Another noteworthy title went to Gabby Villareal, a 13-year-old student from East Lincoln Middle School who is fighting cancer. “We are going to make her our honorary queen and give her a nice sash and crown,” Sellers said.

The pageant kicked off at 3 p.m. with the girls in their beauty wear followed by relay wear. During the beauty wear portion of the competition, each poufy-dressed, curly-haired girl strutted across the stage to an announcement of their age, hair and eye color, parent’s names, ambitions and a few of their favorite things. Justin Beiber’s hits were of the top favorite songs, and ambitions ranged from being potty-trained to performing on the television show American Idol.

The next portion of the evening was relay wear. The girls were instructed to wear a top of pink, purple and white decorated any way they wanted to represent the American Cancer Society’s colors. Raemy Wensil sported a pink cowgirl outfit with “Round up Cancer” in sparkling purple letters on the back and a tiny purple cowgirl hat that she later replaced with her crown.

The girls were divided into age groups, out of which two girls each were crowned Miss Gaston County and Miss Lincoln County Relay Queen. During their two turns on stage, the girls were judged on beauty and attire, and more importantly their personality, by four pageant judges. The judges consisted of a reigning queen and newlywed Lauren Weaver, dance instructor Tonya Reber, Carmen Starnes, of Mount Holly, and Khristy Larose, a cancer survivor and first-time pageant judge.

The evening wrapped up with the announcement of the two Overall Supreme Queens who scored the most points in age groups 0-6 and 7 and up. Raemy Wensil and Zoe Hodge accepted their crowns and gathered for a group photo with the other winners.

And the winners are:
Megan Womack            Overall    Miss Lincoln County Relay Sweetheart
Frankie Gardner           Overall    Miss Gaston County Relay Sweetheart
Zoe Hodge                      Overall    Miss Lincoln County Supreme Queen 0-6
Raemy Wensil               Overall     Miss Lincoln County Supreme Queen 7 & Up
Jillian Styles                    Baby       Miss Lincoln County Relay Queen
Zoey Beam                       Baby       Miss Gaston County Relay Queen
Carsyn Simmons             Wee       Miss Lincoln County Relay Queen
Gracelynn Schronce       Wee        Miss Gaston County Relay Queen
Chloe Lunsford               Tiny        Miss Gaston County Relay Queen
Breann Jenkins               Mini       Miss Lincoln County Relay Queen
Abby Wrenn                     Mini      Miss Gaston County Relay Queen
Makayla Connors           Little      Miss Gaston County Relay Queen
Kathryn Helms              Young     Miss Lincoln County Relay Queen
Blair Lowrey                   Young     Miss Gaston County Relay Queen
Taylor Behling               Junior     Miss Lincoln County Relay Queen
Lea Thompson              Junior      Miss Gaston County Relay Queen
Sadie Martin                    Teen       Miss Lincoln County Relay Queen
Michaela Beam               Teen       Miss Gaston County Relay Queen

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