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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Little Miss Vision Candidates Have "Visions" Of Their Own

Eleven very special young women were winners in the eyes of Riverview and the Kingsport community, but in the end, it was the littliest of voices that was heard the loudest.

6 year old Elisabeth Brice was crowned the 2008 Little Miss Vision in front of a packed auditorium of family, friends, supporters and well-wishers.



The event was held at the Kingsport Renaissance Center Saturday night, June 28th, and capped off two months of mentoring, instruction and personality fine-tuning for all the young women.

Little Elisabeth wowed the crowd every single time she took the stage, whether it was dance routines or simply reciting her name. But everybody agreed, all of the contestants were winners. The 2008 contestants were Jayla Brooks, Da'Nayjah Somerville, Diamond Wyckoff, Makyiah Goodwin, Jada Patrick, Ta-Tionna White, Elisabeth Brice, Lexis Hughes, Olivia Huff, Xena Huff, and Dru Swafford.

"This is our 5th year, Praise the Lord," says pageant director Lillian Leeper, who along with 12 other women of the community, coordinated the competition and put together the pageant, fast becoming one of Kingsport's most influential events. "The pageant and all the activities that lead up to it, gives these young women a chance to blossom and bloom into responsible young women."

"Mrs. Jill Ellis has mentored the girls in what life expects of them, and how they need to carry themselves (see the earlier story on the Little Miss Vision Tea posted in the NEWS AND CURRENT EVENTS section, and the pictures from the tea in the PHOTO GALLERY), and this year she emphasized the 3 A's: attitude, appearance and ability. Those are character traits the girls will need all of their lives to succeed."

Each contestant gets a pair of pants, a shirt, an American Girl bag, bath and body products, a bracelet, and an annual with her own personal pictures in it. Local businesses, including Bath and Body Works, Shamrock, and A & B Fish and Works donated products in the gifts.

"Some of these girls have never gotten a gift without someone wanting it back.. some of them have never been around just all-girls," Mrs. Leeper says. "Some of them have low self-esteem and don't have a reason to feel good about themselves. We want to change that.. our pageant is not about beauty.. it's about self-esteem and the way the girls carry themselves and appreciate themselves."

LMV committee member Joni Hughes was the event mistress of ceremonies for the event, and after a welcome from fellow committee member LaVonda Price and prayer from Rev. James Whiteside, the 2008 Little Miss Vision contestants did an opening number, showing their style, grace and coordination with each other.

Judging the event were Mrs. Carolyn Trammell Cox, Mrs. Burita "B" Carter, and Mrs. Jackie Charles. The judges really had their hands full, because each contestant possessed so much talent, charm and poise that sometimes, it was easy to see they were having a difficult time making up their minds. But it was apparent they enjoyed the task set before them, as the official counters, Beth Pierce and Blake Leeper added up the scores that ultimately led to winners in each individual competition. Richard Ford provided the music for the event, and Billy Leeper was the official event photographer.

Door prizes also highlighted the program, and served as wonderful interludes to keep the audience involved in what was going on.

After their official introductions during which each contestant gave their names and their personal interests, the very FIRST Little Miss Vision, Briesha Camp, did a dance number to entertain the audience. "Briesha will be going to Debbie Allen's Dance Studio in July to learn professional dance steps and routines," says Mrs. Leeper. "We are so very proud of her and her accomplishments, and we just know she'll represent us well in the future."

The 2008 Little Miss Vision Committee members were Lillian Leeper, Sinora Lewis, Joni Hughes, Erin Armbrister, Tierra Trammell, Tonia Leeper, LaVonda Price, Carolyn Faulkerson, Blossom Pierce, Renee Leeper, Monica Lewis-Patrick and April Swafford.

The young contestants also modeled sports wear, and after performances by the Nevaeh and Spiritual Elements Praise Dance teams, the judging was over.

A special highlight was the final walk of the 2007 Little Miss Vision, Jazmyn Lillard. A list of her accomplishments was read, and she looked very gracious as she presented trophies to this years's 2nd Runner Up, Jayla Brooks, and the 1st Runner Up, Jada Patrick. The fact that Elisabeth won the Miss Congeniality award, was a prelude to the announcement that she was also, indeed, the 2008 Little Miss Vision winner.

Our new princess seemed overwhelmed by all the attention, needing to be prompted at certain times. After a while, the smiles, the walks, and the poses came natural to Elisabeth. "She may not really understand it right now," says Mrs. Leeper, "but one day, this, plus everything she's learned in the mentoring process will come to pass and she'll realize that she and all of the other contestants are special. Hopefully, they'll remember those self-esteem reminders."

"We want more young girls taking part in the program," says Mrs. Leeper. "There's no reason why parents cannot spare the time to take this kind of interest in their child's future development. We only practice for two months, and the practices are always on Saturday. Yet, some parents still tell us they can't spare the time. Nevertheless, our hand is always outstretched to welcome the mentoring and tutoring of our young people. Hopefully, God will Provide incentive for parents to give this kind of quality time to their child."


Special thanks went out to the parents of the girls that were in the competition, the Central Baptist Church where the tea was held, Bath and Body Works, Shamrock, Dr. Teri Hunter, Lavonda Price, Dr. McQuirter, the Kingsport Cultural Diversity Team, Van and Dorothy Dobbins, the Clark Funeral Service, Jerome Pierce Sr. and Rev. Sherry Kinchloe, Rev. James Whiteside, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Douglass High School Alumni Association,, Dunamis, Rev. Donnie and Linda Wade, the A & B Fish and Works, the McMillian Insurance Agency, Nevaeh, Spiritual Elements, Briesha Camp, Marquee, Richard Ford, Cassandra Palmer, Rita Linkous and the Bank of Tennessee.

"Thanks to all the girls," wrote Mrs. Leeper in the program. "It has been a joy and blessing being with you. Just remember that with God, All Things are Possible.. that you can be whatever you wnat to be. Thanks to all those listed for their help. I'm very grateful for the old and new LMV members, and a big thanks to Mrs. Ellis.. you are part of us now. We need those 3 A's every day of our lives. God Bless."