Cochran competes for crown

After a lovely send-off party, seven months of enjoying her title as Miss Alabama and a lifetime of dance classes, rehearsals and community service projects, Miss Alabama 2009 Liz Cochran is off to Las Vegas to compete for the title of Miss America.

The competition finals will be aired on TLC on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m.

Robin Ward will be in the audience as Cochran competes for the title of Miss America on the Planet Hollywood stage. Ward was Cochran’s first dance teacher.

“Liz towered over the other four–year–olds at dance class,” Ward said.

Cochran stands 6’1 in her bare feet, 6’4 in her heels and 6’7 in her heels and her Miss Alabama crown.

She is hard to miss –– and height is only one of the reasons why. Ward says what makes Cochran unique is that “Liz is so sincere and genuine. Everything about this young woman is 100 percent heart and soul.”

Ward’s daughter, Meredith Ward, who passed away in September 2006, served as the inspiration for Cochran’s pageant platform of improving cardiovascular health. Meredith was also Liz Cochran’s dance teacher. I saw this teacher and student dance together at a dance competition. They did an amazing tap routine that was incredibly unique –– much like the two of them.

Meredith Ward dreamed of dancing professionally and her dreams landed her in Las Vegas.

“Meredith was out there teaching at two different studios. She was on the Planet Hollywood Stage, where Liz will compete at least two times for recitals,” Robin said.

Cochran was also inspired by other teachers.

Cochran’s mom, Laura Cochran said, “Liz was very excited when Exclusively Dance came to Pelham because she knew that Monica Barnett Smith had been Miss America 1995 Heather Whitestone’s dance teacher.”

The pageant preliminaries actually begin on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The contestants are split into three groups, each completing different preliminaries on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. On Friday night, the girls have a break from competition and TLC airs “Miss America: Behind the Crown” at 9 p.m.

Following the special, the contestants cast their votes for finalists.

The audience will have the chance to participate in some voting after this Friday night special also, so be sure to tune in for the program.

Cochran’s mom Laura is making final plans to get the rest of the Cochran cheering squad to Las Vegas.

“I want to thank everyone in our community for their support of Elizabeth. The prayers, encouraging words and support have all contributed to her achieving her goals,” Laura said. “None of it would have been possible without everyone’s support.”

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.