Cochran fan club celebrates dream–like night

As people gathered in Wright Center at Samford University before the final night of thie year’s Miss Alabama competition, Robin Ward was excited to find out how close to the stage she would be seated.

“My seat is on the sixth row. I’ll be up front — and I expected to be up in the rafters,” Ward said.

Ward waited to buy finals tickets, but needing only a single ticket — and purchasing the ticket from someone who knew she was Meredith Ward’s mom earned her an excellent seat for one of the most exciting nights the friends and family of Liz Cochran would experience yet.

Both Ward and Ward shared the distinction of having been Liz’s dance teacher, but Wright lost her daughter Meredith in the fall of 2006, when Meredith passed away due to a heart condition. When Liz began constructing a platform, she knew she would focus on cardiovascular health.

All four nights of the pageant were exciting. Cochran looked stunning in her elegant black evening gown on Wednesday, dazzled the audience with her dancing on Thursday and won her group’s swimsuit competition and gave a great response to her on–stage question Friday night.

After the opening number on Saturday, the Top 10 finalists were announced. Cochran’s name was the eighth one called and all of her supporters went crazy with applause. At the end of the row, Cochran’s mom Laura, a biology teacher and dance team sponsor at Pelham High, had her head bowed and Liz’s dad, Phil, was looking straight up.

Cochran’s brother, Clint, sitting directly behind me with PHS teacher Julie Nelson, cheered loudly. Cochran competed with the Top 10 finalists in all categories again. Later, as the runners–up were being announced, Rebecca Burnett, my friend and a Pelham English teacher, grabbed my arm and said, “I think Liz has won it!”

The announcer spoke, “And the new 2009 Miss Alabama is . . . Liz Cochran!”

Cochran’s supporters sprang skyward all around me. Cochran had to do her deepest knee bend to allow the petite 2008 Miss Alabama, Amanda Tapley, to crown her.

As Ward and I parted that night, she said, “Meredith was celebrating in heaven” and that the night had been, “like a wonderful dream.”

I thought back to when Cochran was in my 11th grade class and I asked, “Liz Cochran, what’s your dream?”

Liz responded, “I want to be Miss America.”

What was my response to her? “I believe that you will be.”

Liz Cochran’s crowing as Miss Alabama is the just the beginning of a year of wonderful dreams come true. The state of Alabama is well-represented and our community is so proud.