Edmonds begins her quest for the Miss America crown
by Kelly Mayo Staff writer
LUMBERTON — Johna Edmonds has spent this summer winning one scholarship pageant, preparing for another and finishing a master’s degree, all at age 24.
“It’s just been a whirlwind,” Edmonds’ mother, Faye Carter, said.
Edmonds, a Lumberton native, won Miss North Carolina in June and will seek the top crown at the 87th Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. The pageant begins with rehearsals on Monday and ends on Sept. 15 when the winner is crowned on national television.
Edmonds is one of seven finalists for the Quality of Life Award, which awards the contestant who most excelled in community service for her platform with a $6,000 scholarship. That winner will be announced on Thursday.
Edmonds’ platform is youth literacy, and Carter said her daughter had a personal reason for choosing it.
“Johna was 2 years old when we discovered she couldn’t read,” Carter said. “I went to the library and checked out ‘Hooked on Phonics’ and we listened to it all summer long. She decided she didn’t want other kids to fall through the cracks.”
Carter said Edmonds represents Readers to Leaders by traveling to schools around the state and collecting books for patients at the children’s’ hospitals at Duke University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“She goes into the classrooms and reads to students,” Carter said. “She wants to hit all the schools in Wake County. Two years ago, she raised 25,000 books. It must be over 50,000 now.”
Carter said Edmonds loves the pageant stage more than the chance to win a crown.
“She’s just loves performing,” Carter said. “She loves the audience. It’s not just about winning something.”
Edmonds and the rest of the contestants arrived in Atlantic City last week and will participate in the preliminary competitions, including evening gown, swimsuit, interviews and on-stage questions, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Edmonds and all the other contestants are sequestered and could not be interviewed for the story.
After winning Miss Littlefield in 2001, Edmonds won the Junior Miss Lumbee and Outstanding Teen Miss Fayetteville titles in 2002. More pageant wins followed, including Miss Lumberton Senior High School in 2007, Miss Tar Heel Queen in 2011, Miss Garner in 2012, Miss Johnston County last February and Miss North Carolina in June.
Carter said “it’s just so hard to pinpoint” her proudest moment as she watched Edmonds work her way up to the Miss America Pageant.
“She’s my daughter and I love everything about her,” Carter said. “Everything she’s done, I’m just so proud.”
Carter said if Edmonds wins Miss America, she will live in New York for the year of her reign and continue the speaking engagements and other responsibilities she assumed as Miss North Carolina.
“Whoever calls and books her, she’s gone,” Carter said. “She’s been on the road 24/7. She has had no downtime since she won Miss North Carolina.”
Carter said Edmonds took a week off from her Miss America preparations over the summer to complete her last course for a master’s degree in accounting at North Carolina State University.
Carter said she will be there to watch as the competition unfolds.
“I’m excited to get to New Jersey on Monday,” she said.
The Miss America Pageant will air on ABC at 9 p.m. on Sept. 15. The winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship. For information about the pageant, visit www.missamerica.org or the Miss America Organization Facebook page.
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