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Editor, The Beacon:

While pageants are exciting and lots of fun, pageantry is more than sparkly gowns and crowns! Pageant contestants are hardworking young women who are change-makers in their community, excel academically and have platforms that they work diligently to promote!

We also compete for scholarships to help defray college costs, other prizes and the opportunity to represent our state and promote charitable organizations.

My journey to the crown is different from most for several reasons: I started competing a few years ago, so I am extremely late to the world of pageantry. Also, as an AVM survivor whose face was disfigured until surgery in 2018, I never thought I would be able to compete at something that I love so much.

AVM, arteriovenous malformation, is a rare genetic disorder that affects less than 1 percent of the population. It results in strokes and hemorrhaging, and is usually discovered after a significant bleed, when testing for an unrelated medical condition or during an autopsy.

Pageants give me a huge platform to share information and promote The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation Youth Ambassador Program, which I started almost two years ago when I discovered that there wasn’t a support group for young AVM survivors and their families. The program has now grown and provides support to young survivors nationwide.

Participating in pageants has benefited me in several ways — I am now a more confident public speaker, a stronger community organizer and a leader among my peers. I want to serve as a beacon of light for all AVM survivors and tell them to never give up hope! So many of my fellow Youth Ambassadors are working extremely hard to live a normal life, and competing in the Miss Florida Teen USA Pageant is a way to bring awareness to this rare genetic disorder.

Competing in pageants can be quite expensive, so most contestants seek sponsors to help defray costs. To sponsor me, please donate at www.MissFloridaUSA.com/Sponsor, Erica Carnegie (Delegate), TEEN Division. In addition, sponsors are needed for evening gown, jewelry and general wardrobe for pageant week.

All donations are tax-deductible and will assist me in competing for the Miss Florida Teen USA title. All sponsors will be listed in the pageant program book and will be featured on my social-media pages. Please contact me at pageantgirlerica@yahoo.com for more information.

Erica Carnegie


— Carnegie is a student at Stetson University.


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