Former Miss America: Children’s Hospitals brought me down-to-earth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mayor Earl Johnson drove Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan to the Little Black Dress event in this 1955 Chevy.

Mayor Earl Johnson drove Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan to the Little Black Dress event in this 1955 Chevy.

During her reign as Miss America 2013, there was one thing Mallory Hagan could count on, she told an Andalusia audience Saturday night.

“As Miss America, you are away from your family for weeks on end, traveling with two suitcases from hotel to hotel,” she said.

She went to the White House, met celebrities, and covered thousands of miles each month making publicity appearances.

‘Every time I stepped foot in a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, I was brought down-to-earth,” she said.

The Miss America Organization partnered with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to raise funds and awareness for children’s hospitals, and expects contestants in Miss America-sponsored pageants to raise a minimum of $100 in donations for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Miss America Scholarship Fund. In addition, each Miss America becomes the goodwill ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, speaking on behalf of children treated at children’s hospitals and raising awareness around the country.

At the end of those days, Hagan said, she could literally sit down and cry.

“Those children were fighting for their lives,” she said, adding that her challenges paled in comparison.

Hagan, an Alabama native, went to New York as a 19-year-old.

“I decided I wanted to do something different,” she said. “I had a yard sale and left for New York with $967. Those of you who know New York know that won’t get you very far.”

“I got a tattoo and gained 55 pounds,” Hagan recalled. “I was a hot mess But then I was ready to go back to school.”

It was the scholarship aspect that got her back into pageants, she said.

Hagan placed twice in the Miss New York pageant before winning the title that gained her entry into Miss America and the eventual crown. Her platform was sexual abuse.

“One in 14 young women are sexually abused,” Hagan said. “This is not traditionally thought of as a pageant platform, but I thought it was important to raise awareness.”

Hagan spoke at the Little Black Dress fundraiser for Covington County’s Imagination Library, which was attended by approximately 100 women.