By: Timmons McElveen (05/17/17)
Not only was Heather Whitestone the first (and only to this date) deaf Miss America, but she was the first Miss America that was crowned despite having a disability. While competing in the Miss America competition, she gained respect from people both inside and outside of the hearing community. Whitestone was not deaf from birth but was deafened at 18 months of age due to a form of influenza. Despite her loss of hearing, she attended public school and learned to speak and read lips without an interpreter. Eventually, her parents enrolled her into Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri. This was done when she was twelve. When she was at the Miss America pageant, on the outside she appeared to be just like the rest of the girls. She had perfect hair, a beautiful smile, and she looked good in a bathing suit. Although she had the outward appearance down, her STARS (Success Through Action and Realization of your dreamS) platform was what ultimately won the judges over. After her win, she finished her college education with the scholarship money that she received. She is now married with kids and has written several books. Her name, smile, and ambition will permanently reside in the hearts of the American people both inside and out of the deaf community.