Having already been crowned Miss Brave at the Cheraw High School pageant and Miss Marlboro County Teen at a pageant in Bennettsville, 14-year-old Sarah Parker has set her sights on wearing the state champ crown.
In order to achieve her goal, however, Parker must develop a platform and attempt to sell 21 full-page ads for the pageant program book. Each advertisement sells for $300 and is one of the major contributors for the Miss South Carolina/Miss America Organization Scholarship program.
"It's not a requirement that I sell the ads to be in the pageant," Parker said, "but the pageant program book will be the first chance judges will get to see the contestants, and so it's best to be in there as much as possible."
Parker said selling ads was more difficult than defining her platform.
"My platform is to get teens involved in helping the less fortunate," Parker said. "It's something that I've really been interested in for a long time, but I think by winning Miss Marlboro County, it's really given me the opportunity to do something."
But Parker must do more than just voice her platform, she must also act on it by completing a number of community service hours. According to the Miss South Carolina Teen Web site, pageant volunteers and contestants generate more than 96,400 hours of community service projects.
On Saturday, April 10, Parker will be volunteering at the Lois McCarn Food Bank.
"You see so many people helping the less fortunate during holidays, but really, they need your help all year round," Parker said. "The less fortunate all have lives outside of the holidays."
Parker's interest in competing in beauty pageants stems from getting the chance to go out and network. "I love the atmosphere, the getting to know new people and broadening your horizons. Plus, by competing you learn a lot about yourself. It helps you to get more out of life, as well as make contacts that you can benefit from later on."
Although full-page ads in the pageant program cost $300, Parker said any and all contributions would be appreciated. All donations must be received by April 30.
The Miss South Carolina Pageant, along with other local pageants across the state, offer more than $6 million annually in cash and tuition scholarships, making South Carolina No. 1 in the Miss America Organization.