Yes! You have all that capability and you’ve got the perfect look, but what if you are lacking of something in regards with physical aspect. Would this stop you to pursue your dreams and be trapped with the thought that whatever you will do, you just cannot make it? Or you don’t care at all that despite the disability you have; still you go on and face the challenges that the stage awaits you.
The story below is to prove that no matter what happens, when you are determined to achieve your goal you would surely be able to reach even the most incredible star.
Dreams are renewable, No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.
September 17, 1994. My lack of nervousness had begun to make me nervous. The relaxed sense of peace I felt seemed such a contrast to the tension and excitement I’d experienced during all the other pageants in which my daughter, Heather, had competed. Yet this was Atlantic City – and the final night of the Miss America pageant. Tonight would bring either the remarkable culmination, or the sudden and disappointing end, of my daughter’s incredible dream. Yet, the most pervasive sensation I’d had all evening was this disconcerting, yet clearly God-given, feeling of inner calm.
When Miss America’s television hosts, Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford, announced the five finalists, the second name called was “Heather Whitestone, Miss Alabama.” As the five finalists moved toward center stage, my maternal anxiety began to build.
All five contestants looked stunning. As a burst of orchestra music signaled the end of commercial break, a hush of anticipation settled across that vast convention hall. My nightlong calm evaporated as the last notes of music faded away.
Twenty years ago this very night, eighteen-month-old Heather had lain critically ill in the pediatric ward of a hospital in Dothan, Alabama, while her doctors tried to decided what was wrong and how to treat her. Unbe-knownst to us, sometime during her stay in the hospital, Heather had slipped in a world of silence.
Was it possible for my deaf child to find success and happiness in the hearing world? Sometimes I’d felt very alone in my belief that she could – or even should try. Most experts told us not to expect her to attain more than a third-grade education. And why even bother enrolling a deaf child in dance? While most people considered only Heather’s limitations, fortunately, a few saw her potential.
Heather had worked long and hard to be here tonight. She hoped to become the first deaf Miss America-and be a bridge between the hearing and deaf worlds. Now I worried: Could be a deaf girl who dreamed of becoming Miss America actually win the the crown?
All this and more raced through my mind during the commercial break and then during Regis and Kathie Lee’s time-killing chat with Miss America 1994, Kimberly Aiken.
Finally the scores were tallied and the judge’s decision delivered.
The envelope was opened, and Regis Philbin called out, “Fourth runner-up: Miss Indiana, Tiffany Storm.” The crowd cheered, and my blood pressure jumped a few more pointss “Third runner-up: Miss Georgia, Andrea Krahn.” The three remaining contestants stood at center stage holding hands. “Second runner-up: Miss New Jersey, Jennifer Alexis Makris.”
As the cheering subsided, Regis went on to say, “Here were now. Down to two. That leaves Miss Alabama and Miss Virginia.”
Kathie now said, “One of you beautiful ladies will win $20,000 scholarship to continue your education, and the other will win a $35,000 scholarship, plus the crown and the title of Miss America.”
“Okay,” said Regis. “This is it, everybody! Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of a $20,000 scholarship is. . . Miss Virginia, Cullen Johnson. And the new Miss America 1995: Miss Alabama, Heather Whitestone!”
The crowd of 13,000 packing the Atlantic City Convention Center exploded into wall-shaking cheers. The bewildered expression on Heather’s face told she hadn’t understood the announcement. It wasn’t until Cullen pointed at her, mouthed the words, “It’s you!” and gave her a big congratulatory hug that Heather realized she’d won.
I never did clearly see what happened next. I could tell Heather was crying. I was crying. My mother and sisters were crying. Stacey and Melissa, Heather’s two older sisters, were screaming and jumping up and down. All of Heather’s cousins and her aunts and uncles were cheering and applauding like mad. My father, in joyous celebration of Heather’s victory, was punching his arm in the air and screaming, “YES! YES! YES!”
I guess Regis and Kathie Lee must have been singing, “There she is, Miss America…” because Heather was now walking down the runway and waving the crowd. But all that our family and friends could hear was the sound of wild cheering, our own and everyone else’s around us.
When Heather made her turn and strolled back toward the stage, I could see her searching for the family in the crowd. I don’t know why she didn’t spot us immediately: We were the contingent of fools screaming and jumping up and down. There were thirty of us wildly waving and flashing her the familiar hand sign for “I love you.” When she finally spotted us, she signed her love back to us, and we all screamed even louder.
My heart was so full. She’d done it! Heather had dreamed of this day for so long. As hard and impossible as it had seemed at times for someone deaf to become Miss America, tonight I was ecstatic that I had always told her, “Yes, you can, Heather! Yes-you can!”