Love for granddad melted hearts at beauty pageant
by William Wright
Sep 15, 2010 | 2452 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 Johnny Ray Huges Sr. with granddaughter Alisha Hughes at the National American Miss Pageant in Nashville.
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A little girl’s wish to have her terminally ill grandfather escort her on stage during her first National American Miss Pageant proved to be a winning combination.

Alisha Sharon Hughes, 6, of Bradley County became a state finalist for the National American Miss pageant on Sept. 5, placing first runner-up in Nashville and receiving an invitation to the nationals in Anaheim, Calif., where she will compete for National All-American Miss to be held Thanksgiving week.

Christi Roberts, Alisha’s mom, said she found the pageant online and decided to enter her daughter in the competition where she could win $1,000 cash, a modeling scholarship, the official state crown, banner trophy and roses, VIP passes for two at Disneyland and a trip through the famed streets of Hollywood.

According to Roberts, Alisha’s grandfather Johnny Ray Hughes Sr., has terminal bone cancer.

“He just passed his three-year mark,” said Roberts, who was sentimental about her daughter selecting her ailing grandfather to be her escort.

“That was his wish, to walk her out on stage,” said Roberts. “A lot of the family was there. We were crying. We were so excited and proud of him and her. He had bought a new suit and everything. He was crying also.

“He was so nervous. But he was excited and proud that Alisha actually asked him to do this. It was completely her idea. She wasn’t embarrassed or anything. She had the option of (being escorted by) her father, but she chose her grandfather.

Roberts said she is making plans to be in California with Alisha, who attends Charleston Elementary, during Thanksgiving week.

“I know her grandfather would love to be there for Alisha and we’re hoping he can,” said Roberts. “It means the world to me that I have a daughter who is so thoughtful to be so young. We’re all very proud of her.”

The National American Miss pageant is open to girls from ages 4 to 20 and has six different age divisions, according to Breanne Maples, director of marketing and events for the National American Miss pageant.

“However, the two major things that set us apart from the Miss America system are the swimsuit and talent competition,” said Maples. “At National American Miss, there are four overall competitions: formal wear, interview, personal introduction and community involvement.

Breanne said there is no swimsuit competition because the focus is based on helping young ladies learn lifelong skills like presenting themselves confidently, developing an optimistic attitude, gaining communication skills through one-on-one interviews and learning how to effectively speak in front of an audience.

“However, National American Miss is a great stepping-stone for any young lady who strives to one day be Miss America or Miss USA,” Maples said.

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