Four local representatives to compete for state crowns

Miss Magic City Teen Lila Crosswell. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Miss Darlington Abigayle Stokes. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Miss Magic City Ashley Downs. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Miss Darlington Teen Ashlyn Cady. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Miss Darlington Volunteer Abigayle Stokes, Miss Darlington Teen Volunteer Ashlyn Cady, Miss Magic City Volunteer Ashley Downs and Miss Magic City Teen Volunteer Lila Crosswell will compete for Miss South Carolina Volunteer and Miss South Carolina Teen Volunteer this weekend in Spartanburg S.C.

The four queens are under the directorship of Darlington native and longtime pageant guru Will Isgett.

The winners of the pageant will advance to the newly formed Miss Volunteer America and Miss Teen Volunteer America which were started three years ago by Allison DeMarcus, the wife of Rascal Flatts band members Jay DeMarcus.

Stokes, a native of Hartsville, has been promoting her service initiative C.A.F.E (Celiac Awareness For Everyone), which is very near and dear to her heart. Stokes, 21, suffers from Celiac Disease, which prevents her from eating regular foods, which means she has to eat everything gluten free. 

“I still live my everyday life, but have to be careful and cautious of what I eat,” Stokes said. “For the most part I cook my own meals just so I don’t get cross-contaminated from fast food restaurants.”

This year Stokes has gone before the Darlington County School Board, Darlington City Council and met with former South Carolina Speaker of the House Jay Lucas and Representative Cody Mitchell to speak about her platform.

Stokes said it has been an honor to use her platform as a way to get her message out.

“I’m so happy that I’ve been able to get the word out about my platform on the local level and state level,” Stokes said. “It’s been an honor”

She added that some of the highlights of her reign were participating  in activities and attending the NASCAR Goodyear 400 race at Darlington Raceway. Stokes will perform a vocal selection for her talent at the pageant. 

Downs, a native of Pelion and student at Charleston Southern University, has used her reign to promote her service initiative Full Plates, Full Hearts, advocating for the fight of food security for people of all ages. 

She has volunteered at various food banks throughout the state and has given to blessing boxes not only in the Pee Dee area but in her home county of Lexington S.C.

She has also teamed up with her church Wagner United Methodist Church, which is an ACTS satellite church.

The ACTS ministry serves the elderly in the community and gives them a week’s worth of groceries every month Downs said.

“Money that they spend on groceries can now go to other things like medicines that the elderly may need,” Downs said. “Queens aren’t just people with crowns, they are people who are called to help others.”

The program helps 45 seniors in the Wagner community Downs said.

Downs said one of highlights of having the crown was riding in the Goodyear 400 parade and attending the Freedom Fest held on the downtown Darlington square.

“I was able to go out and talk to the sponsors and citizens that were at the event,” Downs said. “I was able to let them know who I was and shared my platform with them.”

Downs said she is ready to let everyone see how hard she has worked when competing at the state level. Downs will perform a lyrical dance for her talent at the pageant. 

Miss Darlington Teen Volunteer is Ashlyn Cady and her service initiative is  A-for-A (Ashlyn for the Arts) which  encourages the love and passion for the Arts in Children and Teens. Ashlyn created her platform after being involved in Arts for many years as a young adult through dance and singing and saw the impact it has had on her life. Her hope is that she can use what she has learned to encourage other young people to do the same. She is a student at the South Florence Fine Arts Academy and is able to take many fine arts related classes offered at the school. 

“I’m so excited that I’ve been able to create a platform that lets me give back,” Cady said. “The arts have been a huge part of my life for so long and it’s something that I love doing.”

Cady loves the Volunteer America pageant organization because she is friends with the current Miss South Carolina Teen Volunteer Tess Ferm, they were sister queens in another pageant organization.

“I’m looking forward to going to state and meeting all the girls,” Cady said. “It’s like a sisterhood.” 

Cady will perform a vocal selection for her talent at the pageant.

Miss Magic City Teen Volunteer Lila Crosswell loved attending the Goodyear 400 parade and also making an appearance at the Freedom Fest on the square in Darlington. 

Her service initiative is #theQUEENinyou (Quality, Unique, Educated, Empowered, Nice) is a social media campaign empowering young women to do everything to the best of their abilities, be themselves, be informed, raise the status of each other and be kind. “Pageants are more than putting on a beautiful dress or sparkly crown and winning,” Crosswell said. “There is a queen in all of us.”

Crosswell is a senior at Lexington High School with aspirations of double majoring in business and media arts to become a professional photographer. Her passion to become a photographer was spurred after having her artwork featured on one of her photographers instagram accounts. Being Miss Magic City Teen has meant a lot to Crosswell this year and she looks forward to competing at the state competing this weekend.

“I have absolutely loved every second of being Miss Magic City Teen Volunteer,” Crosswell said. “It truly feels like a family to me and I will cherish every moment with these girls.”

Crosswell will perform a acro-dance for talent at the pageant.

Author: Stephan Drew

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