Headed to Hollywood: Helena pre-teen fights through adversity to represent Alabama in National Pageant
By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer
HELENA–Helena resident Parker Wilson said the moment she heard her name called she immediately fell to her knees and shed a few tears when it was announced that she was being crowned the winner of the National American Miss Alabama Pre-Teen Pageant.
“I competed against some other friends and this is something I’ve been working toward for four years,” said Wilson. “It was like ‘Wow, I just did this’ and I accomplished my Mount Everest. I did cry when I got the crown but it was a very cool moment.”
Wilson competed against 66 other girls from across the state of Alabama for the crown.
In exchange for winning the National American Miss Alabama Pre-Teen Pageant, Wilson was awarded a $1,000 cash prize in addition to free airfare and entry fees to compete in the National American Pre-Teen Pageant in Hollywood, Calif. In November, where she will represent the state of Alabama.
Wilson, 11, is beginning her sixth-grade year at Helena Middle School and as she prepares to head to Hollywood in November, her road to get to this point wasn’t always easy.
Wilson was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in February 2014 and ever since her diagnosis, she has made it her focus and platform to help raise funds for the disease.
Last December, Wilson helped organize a Jingle Bell Run and after tallying the final numbers, the run helped raise more than $4,000 for the Arthritis Foundation.
When describing their feelings about getting to go to Hollywood for the national pageant, both Wilson and her mother Christi Wilson said they are excited, but they pointed out that there’s more to it than just getting to travel to California.
“It’s about giving her a platform and not about just going to Hollywood,” said Christi Wilson.
In addition to raising funds for the Arthritis Foundation, Parker also focuses on spending time with sick children at Children’s Hospital where she helped orchestrate a fundraiser to donate more than 550 DVD movies to the hospital’s movie library.
When asked if she has a harder time preparing for pageants because of her arthritis, Parker explained that occasional flair-ups can be challenging.
“It’s emotional when I have to talk about arthritis and I’m not a kid who can play outside long or play on a playground very long,” said Parker. “Before this pageant, I had a flair up and couldn’t practice for two weeks.”
Despite the two-week absence, Parker was still able to push through and take the crown.
Parker and Christi will head to Hollywood the week of Thanksgiving and although their airfare and entry fees are paid for, they’re still looking for help for expenses.
Those wishing to help Parker on her journey to California can do so by visiting Gofundme.com/yh4v3u3u8.