Miss America Organization
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 | 4:34 p.m.
Miss Kentucky, the lovely Emily Cox, was named today as this year’s Miss America Quality of Life Award winner. Emily was recognized for her work on her platform, “Uniquely Me: Promoting Self-Esteem in Adolescent Girls,” and she will receive a $6,000 scholarship.
Emily herself struggled with low self-esteem before she came to realize that, regardless of socio-economic status, race or academic ability, kids are constantly pressured to meet expectations they can’t even define. With that in mind, Emily began work on her service project nearly two years ago. Her goal is to promote a sense of self-worth among girls and boys so that they might realize the heights of life to which they aspire.
Emily has involved others by creating and implementing self-esteem workshops in classrooms, Girl Scout troops and church groups. Through these workshops, Emily has reached nearly 30,000 youths in Kentucky with her message.
The first-runner up was Miss Michigan Ashlee Baracy, whose platform is “Breast Cancer Awareness and Education.” Ashlee has been a caregiver for her mother who is a breast cancer survivor of five years. She took on the mission to create an online support network that went live in 2007. Ashlee is a founder of BCDaughters.com, which is an international Web site that serves as an outlet for breast cancer victims. She has worked on fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society and also has become a legislative ambassador and has lobbied in Washington for cancer research.
The second runner-up was Miss Alabama Amanda Tapley, whose platform is “Music for a Cure.” Amanda worked with her brother to create a CD with a musical software program that included some of her favorite piano pieces and raised more than $4,000, with all proceeds being donated for pediatric research at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Amanda also performed a benefit with family members that raised another $13,000 for research. She has supported Miss America’s national partner, Children’s Miracle Network, and organized an event for CMN that raised more than $8,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Alabama. To date, Amanda has raised more than $27,000 for both children’s hospitals and continues to use her music for a cure.
The three Quality of Life Awards, which are funded by past Miss America winners, were introduced in 1988 to recognize contestants who excel in their commitment to community service. Honorable mentions went to five other finalists: Miss Hawaii Nicole Fox, Miss Indiana Katie Stam, Miss North Carolina Amanda Watson, Miss Rhode Island Francesca Simone and Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler.