Baseball, wings and Ellen: Meet the Miss America hopefuls
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- This year, Georgia is from Oklahoma - Georgia Frazier, that is, a cancer survivor and daughter of a former New York Yankees pitcher who holds an inauspicious World Series record.
Miss Oklahoma's background is one of many compelling story lines in this year's Miss America competition. The winner will be crowned Sept. 13.
On Tuesday, the contestants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, met the public in the annual welcome ceremony on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Outgoing Miss America Kira Kazantsev recalled standing in the same spot a year ago.
"I can't believe a year ago I was sitting in your shoes - or heels," she said. "You are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime."
Here are some things to know about some of the young women vying for the crown:
MAKING HER PITCH
Georgia Frazier knows the difference between a curveball and a slider - and can throw either one for strikes.
"It's all about how you grip it," she said.
She learned to pitch from her father, George Frazier, who was with the Yankees in 1981 when he cemented a place in baseball history by becoming the only pitcher to lose three games in a best-of-seven World Series. The elder Frazier painted a box on a back wall of their house, and she and her three brothers would have to throw 30 strikes before they could go in and eat dinner, she recalled with a laugh.
"I grew up as George Frazier's daughter," she said. "Now he's Miss Oklahoma's father."
Now 23, Georgia Frazier learned she had the early stages of cervical cancer when she was 19. Finding it that early saved her life, and her platform is women's health, stressing annual checkups.
As a child who was often sick, Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts spent plenty of time in doctors' offices. She hopes to work in one herself: She's entering medical school next year.
Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson already is a registered nurse whose dream is to meet talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
The youngest contestant, 17-year-old Clark Janell Davis, is Miss Kentucky, and one day hopes to win the title of "Madam President," as in the president of the United States.
Haely Jardas, Miss District of Columbia, wants to be communications director for the Kennedy Center in Washington.
And move over "Miss Congeniality" star Sandra Bullock: Miss Virginia Savannah Lane wants to be an FBI agent and eventually, a U.S. Congresswoman.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Miss Rhode Island, Alexandra Curtis, was a competitive chicken wing eating champion in college. She can consume 2 pounds of wings in 10 minutes.
"You just kind of go in for the kill," she said. "There were times I felt like my life was flashing before my eyes, but I just powered through it, which is how I approach most challenges or difficult situations."
Miss Arizona Madi Esteves, lists her favorite food as Burger King chicken fries.
Miss Alabama Meg McGuffin is partial to filet mignon. Growing up as a dancer, she saw she was curvier than the other girls in class, and hated her body. Her platform is promoting a positive body image, called "healthy is the new skinny."
Esteves, Miss Arizona, was 6 when her mother gave birth to a stillborn baby girl who had Down syndrome. Her platform is empowering individuals with disabilities.
As a teenager, Miss Iowa Taylor Wiebers shaved her head to raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation's pediatric cancer research after meeting an 8-year-old boy with cancer who became a good friend. She hopes to found and operate a nonprofit foundation for families of pediatric cancer patients.
When she was 16, Miss Illinois Crystal Davis was involved in a distracted driving accident. Her platform is "crystal clear driving - eyes on the road ahead."
Miss North Carolina Kate Peacock survived three pediatric eye diseases, and Miss Utah Krissa Beatty was born with spina bifida occulta, and was told she would never walk. Not only can she walk, she swims, hikes, plays basketball and works out at the gym.
Miss Wisconsin Rosalie Smith's platform was inspired by the death of her brother two years ago from an alcohol overdose.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC