Perseverance pays off

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ander Helms was named Covington County’s Distinguished Young Woman Saturday night.| Michele Gerlach/Star-News

“Perseverance” is how Ander Helms described her journey to the top at Covington County’s Distinguished Young Women scholarship and talent event this past weekend.

Helms, who had undergone surgery two weeks ago in which she had to be put to sleep for a cortisone injection in her ankle and foot area, said she had a difficult time performing her talent.

Helms said the cortisone injection was needed for a “flair up” from a surgery she underwent in the ninth grade after an attempt to correct osteochondritis dissecans, a joint condition in which a piece of cartilage, along with a thin layer of the bone beneath it, comes loose from the end of a bone.

The surgery left bone and joint damage, which became inflamed, Helms said.

Helms was originally scheduled to perform a ballet en pointe to “Allegretto,” but said she was in too much pain during Wednesday night’s dress rehearsal.

“The night that the parents got to come, I couldn’t do anything full out,” she said. “I was going to try and do pointe, but I couldn’t. I had to do it full out on flat shoes.”

Helms said she received support from several family and friends, including DYM director Nancy Hammett, who told her they would tell the judges she wouldn’t be performing pointe due to an injury. She would go on to just perform regular ballet.

“To my surprise, I wound up winning the talent portion,” she said. “That probably meant more to me than actually winning the entire competition. I hurt so badly while doing it.”

Helms, the daughter of Steve and Carla Helms, was the category winner in four of the event’s seven categories, including self-expression, talent, scholastics and interview, in addtion to being named Distinguished Young Woman.

“I was very surprised; I really wasn’t expecting any of them,” she said of winning the categories. “Lauren Powell (former Covington County Junior Miss) is one of my very good friends. She helped calm me down Wednesday night. She told me to just let God take control, and I did.”

Helms said when it was announced that she was this year’s Distinguished Young Woman, she said. “It’s all a blur; I don’t even remember it.”

“We had a really good group,” she said. “They were really good to encourage me. We weren’t a vicious group. The minute that the curtain closed we decided that we would pray, and we thanked God for everything.”

Helms said she’s excited about the January state competition.

“I’m already meeting with Mrs. Cathy Powell (today),” she said. “I was Devin’s (Williamson, last year’s Junior Miss) little sister,” she said. “It looks like hard work, but Devin and Lauren both have told me that it would be a blast.”

Helms said she is thankful for “two awesome parents and a brother, as well as my church family at Bethany Baptist Church, who prayed for me.”

This year’s program was a “remix” of the past 53 years of shows.

Kathryn Williams was first alternate; Melanie Lloyd was second alternate; Megan Rogers was third alternate; and Andrianna Carpenter was fourth alternate.

Holly McGlaun was chosen by her peers as the winner of the spirit award. Greeley Foshee and Melanie Lloyd shared the Be Your Best Self Award for an essay contest judged separately from the event.