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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Two county women vie for Miss Virginia title
Haylee Hunt and Mary Hannah Garber in scholarship pageant
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Courtesy Photo: Miss Greater Franklin County Haylee Hunt of Penhook is competing in the Miss Virginia Pageant this week in Roanoke.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer

Two Franklin County women will vie for the title of Miss Virginia during the 2014 Miss Virginia Scholarship Pageant this week.

The pageant will be broadcast live Saturday, June 28 from the Roanoke Performing Arts Theater.

The reigning Miss Virginia 2013, Desiree Williams, will relinquish her crown to the winner at the end of the final performance on Saturday.

Local women competing for the title of Miss Virginia include Miss Greater Franklin County Haylee Hunt of Penhook and Miss Martinsville-Henry County Mary Hannah Garber of Boones Mill.

Hunt, a 2013 graduate of Franklin County High School, has an associate's degree in science from Virginia Western Community College. She is currently a student at Radford University and will transfer to Roanoke College this fall to major in biochemistry.

The 19-year-old has been very busy gathering her wardrobe, working out, conducting mock interviews and practicing her piano routine for the talent portion of the Miss Virginia pageant.

"I will be playing 'Reflections' from the Disney movie, 'Mulan'," she said.

Hunt's platform is Everyone's FITTs (Fighting Injustice Through Tolerance).

"Children and adults both should learn to tolerate others' beliefs and dreams and accept each other as unique individuals," said Hunt.

She has been sharing her platform with elementary school children. She has also been raising money for the Children's Miracle Network and for Rett Syndrome research.

This is Hunt's second year competing for the title of Miss Virginia. She is the daughter of Keith and Debbie Hunt of Penhook.

Garber, 21, is a 2010 graduate of Franklin County High School and recently graduated from Virginia Intermont College with a bachelor's degree in fine arts and musical theatre.

"I would love to star on Broadway one day," she said.

Since being crowned Miss Martinsville-Henry County, Garber has been speaking to students in Franklin County about her platform Let's DANCE, Preventing Childhood Obesity."

"One in three children are obese," she said. "If this trend continues, more children will start dying before their parents. I was an overweight child myself, and I think proper diet and exercises could prevent all this."

Garber said she has also been dress shopping, doing mock interviews and practicing her talent for the Miss Virginia pageant.

"This year, I will be singing and tapping," she said. "I will perform the 1930's hit 'When You're Smiling' with my coach, Susan Braden."

This is also Garber's second year competing for the title of Miss Virginia. She is the daughter of Dr. Jeannie Garber of Boones Mill and Sam Garber of Bedford.

Also competing this year is Miss Greater Franklin County Outstanding Teen Jessalyn Hayes of Rocky Mount, who hopes to gain the crown and title of Miss Virginia Outstanding Teen from Cassie Donegan.

Hayes, a rising sophomore at Franklin County High School, has kept busy serving her community since being crowned Miss Greater Franklin County Outstanding Teen.

Hayes has joined Donegan on several trips to nursing homes in which they served lunch to the residents there. She recently visited the Essig Center where she sang for the senior citizens and served them lunch. She also has donated time and books to a library in Williamsburg.

The 15-year-old has been preparing for her first time competing in the state competition and said she has chosen her wardrobe and a song that she will sing for the talent portion of the competition.

"I have been working with my coach and practicing my vocal performance every day," she said. "I'll sing 'Somebody to Love,' by Queen."

Hayes said her main focus is the interview portion of the competition.

"I'm pretty nervous," she said. "This is my first time going and I want to do well on the interview. You have to be really fast and ready to answer any question presented to you."

Hayes' platform focuses on awareness for Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder found mostly in girls that often confines its victims to a wheelchair.

"I hope to spread awareness and raise money for research and a cure so that someday, no girl will have to live life with Rett Syndrome," said Hayes.

Hayes is the daughter of Mickey and Lori Hayes of Rocky Mount.

Bobbie Eakes, a four-time Emmy nominee, will be joining several past Miss Virginias as co-hosts of the pageant. Eakes played the characters of "Krystal" on ABC daytime's All My Children and "Macy" on CBS daytime's The Bold & the Beautiful. She is the former Miss Georgia and was a Top 10 Miss America finalist in 1983.

Former Miss Virginias will include Kelli Quick, Miss Virginia 1997 and Miss America 1998 Talent Winner; Chinah Helmandollar Jewell, Miss Virginia 2009; Kaitlin Uze, Miss Virginia 2010 and a Top 10 Miss America finalist in 2011; and Elizabeth Crot, Miss Virginia 2011 and a Top 15 Miss America finalist in 2012.

The pageant will be televised live Saturday on ABC at 9 p.m.

 
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