Friday, January 23, 2009

Tomorrow night, one amazing young woman is going to be given the opportunity of a lifetime in Las Vegas. One of the 52 young women out there competing for Miss America will begin the journey she’s always dreamed of, and all of us will be sitting on the edge of our seats, wondering who it will be.

Only one woman can win…so that means that 51 young ladies will walk away without that pretty crown and sash that they have been preparing their entire lives for. 37 young women will not even be able to compete tomorrow night, because only the top 15 earns the right to compete again on Saturday’s finals.

And I know tomorrow I’m going to bite my nails down to the core hoping to hear “Miss Virginia, Tara Wheeler” not just because I’m a Virginia fan but because I KNOW how outstanding Tara is personally. Tara is the epitome of everything this program stands for, and knowing who Tara is and what she stands for is truly a blessing; I only hope the judges got to see in ten minutes in interview what is obvious to me and the other contestants here in Virginia. Tara Wheeler has EVERYTHING it takes to be Miss America. She has left her soul on that stage, I have no doubt of that. Tara has put miles on her car. She has driven across the state to visit a contestant in a car accident. She has persevered despite a tiring schedule. For those who don’t know, Miss Virginia is a full time job, and Tara does it well. She has poured hours into her appearances as well as her Miss America preparation. She also makes time to just be “Tara” and spend time with friends and family, and we all know that being just Tara is what got her this far.

One question I get a lot during my own appearances is “Are you jealous of Tara” since Miss America is just around the corner. Am I jealous of her experiences? You bet! I think all of us Virginia girls want to have that year as Miss Virginia, but I am not jealous of Tara… it was my pleasure to lose to her this past June, because Tara was 100% ready for this job and has given all of herself to this mission.

Maybe some people will be upset if Tara’s name is not called tomorrow night as a top 15 semi-finalist, but there is something about the Miss America pageant. At that level, ANY of those women could do it. Looking at the preliminary pictures, the women are gorgeous. The gowns are stunning. The talents are spot-on. The swimsuits display fit bodies. The women are intelligent. It’s a one in 52 chance, and I know that Tara could do that job. It depends on the judges that week. If Tara is not chosen as Miss America tomorrow night, it is every bit Virginia’s gain, because we get to keep her right here in VA the next six months serving the Commonwealth which we know she does extremely well! That being said, I have a very strong feeling in my gut that Tara will be called as a finalist tomorrow night, but I want to share how proud I am of our Miss Virginia no matter what. What Tara does on a daily basis is an incredible thing and no matter how the cards fall (haha, Vegas pun!) she deserves the support of everyone.

When I think about the Miss America pageant, I think about glamour, grace, intelligence, and talent. Tara has all of that, and I can’t wait to see the pageant tomorrow! Best of luck to a beautiful Miss Virginia!

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