**Editor's Update June 30, 2014: Congratulations to Lanie Hudson who has been named 2014 Miss South Carolina. Learn more at Miss-SC.org
Written by Lanie Hudson, Miss Anderson and 2014 Miss South Carolina Contestant
Photos: Lanie Hudson
My involvement in the Miss America Organization (MAO) has truly changed my life. Yes, you may think of it as another “pageant”, and beautiful girls parading on stage—but it is so much more than that. Did you know that the Miss America Organization is the LEADING scholarship provider for women in the world? Last year alone, MAO awarded over 45 million dollars in scholarships to women so they could further their education.
The Miss America Program not only encourages education, but also teaches women valuable life experiences that are hard to teach in a classroom - interviewing before a panel of judges, speaking in front of large audiences, performing a chosen talent onstage, and even gaining confidence in ones self to stand with poise on stage and off.
Most importantly, though, is the driving force behind MAO: its passion for service - something that sets it apart from the rest. With the Four Points of the Miss America crown, “Style, Service, Scholarship, & Success,” I truly believe that the service aspect is what makes this program so life-changing.
The Gift of Life, The Gift of a Lifetime
With the national platform of the Miss America Organization being the Children’s Miracle Network, contestants act as “ambassadors” for this non-profit organization and throughout the year help fund raise for their local children’s hospitals (in SC we have 4 CMN hospitals). Additionally, contestants that are in the Miss America Program are given the opportunity to promote their own personal platform that they feel is relevant to society and an issue that needs to be addressed. I am proud to say that for my own personal platform I am an ambassador for the "Gift of Life”!
My platform, “The Gift of a Lifetime”, was established in 2007 because of events experienced by my family and friends. You could say that as contestants we get to “choose” our personal platform, however I believe my platform chose me! This drive to work for the cause of organ and tissue donation began when a close friend of mine was killed in a fatal car accident.
After the doctors pronounced her brain dead, her family made the selfless decision to donate her organs to individuals who were in dire need. This tragic event I faced while in high school really taught me how we can “pay it forward” it life, even when faced with death. Additionally, witnessing first hand the difference that organ and tissue donation makes in the life of the recipient made the organ donation cause that much more special to me.
Fifteen years ago, my uncle received a kidney and pancreas transplant. Thanks to the sacrifice of complete strangers, he is still alive today. And for that, we are forever grateful!
A Passion for Organ Donation
In addition to being Miss Anderson 2014, throughout these past seven years I have worked to educate the citizens of South Carolina on the importance of being an organ donor. It is a simple decision that many people today just don’t think about. Through being a State Spokesperson for DonateLifeSC, I have had the opportunity to share why I choose to be an advocate for organ and tissue donation - speaking at schools, churches, and civic organizations, and even hosting donor drives.
Through this life-changing platform, I have been able to encourage thousands across the state of South Carolina. With only 20% of South Carolina residents registered as organ donors, I have joined forces with Governor Nikki Haley and the SC Department of Motor Vehicles to increase the donor registry to 40% by the end of 2014!
I am so honored to also partner with Taylor’s Gift Foundation throughout my journey in the Miss America program! I first heard of Taylor’s Gift while watching the Today Show. Being a nail polish FANATIC I was immediately drawn in by their signature OPI Taylor Blue nail lacquer, but the real hook was the compassion behind Taylor’s story.
I immediately went online and ordered a bottle of Taylor Blue nail polish and knew this was an organization that we needed to continue to spread awareness about.
Sharing is Simple
Taylor’s Gift mission to Regift Life, Renew Health, and Restore Families is something I talk about often at speaking engagements. I love being able to tell Taylor’s story (while wearing my Taylor Blue polish, of course) and sharing how one incredible girl impacted so many lives. Simply “Painting it Forward” with the beautiful OPI nail polish makes a bigger difference than you could ever imagine.
Women have stopped me multiple times in the bank, grocery store, and mall asking what color I have on my nails. It made sharing a life-changing story so simple, and that much more POWERFUL. I am excited to continue share Taylor’s story and will continue to work alongside both Taylor’s Gift and DonateLife as we work towards increasing awareness around the importance of registering to be an organ and tissue donor.
This June 24-28 I will be competing for the title of Miss South Carolina 2014! I am ecstatic and ready to represent the city of Anderson but even more so to be a light for the “Gift of Life”. Despite the normal “pageant routine” of polishing your nails a neutral color, I will proudly be wearing Taylor Blue on my toes throughout the week. Thank you to Taylor’s Gift for supporting me and continuing to change lives across the country. My hope is that together we can advocate for organ and tissue donation on the Miss America stage in September! ;)
Watch the Miss South Carolina Pageant!
Watch the Miss SC Pageant next week LIVE STREAMED at Miss-SC.org!
Tuesday June 24 - Swimsuit/Evening Gown
Lanie Hudson, a native of Spartanburg, SC, is the reigning Miss Anderson 2014. A third-generation Tiger, she is a 2013 graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Communication studies. Dancing since the age of 3, Lanie has taken many different types of dance but fell in love with clogging early on. Through the Miss America Organization, Lanie has chosen to promote Organ & Tissue donation as her personal platform. She will be competing for Miss South Carolina the week of June 24, 2014!