When a young woman approached Debi Wilson at her gym in 1984 and asked her to chaperone a week of pageants, Debi didn't realize that her participation would lead to twenty-nine more years of service with the Miss Delaware Pageant.
Today, Debi has held several years worth of board positions, and this past April, she was voted in for her fourth term as executive director.
"It was overwhelming, and sometimes it still is," says the Wilmington native. But she wouldn't trade her time spent with the contestants.
Sitting in the audience watching the contestant for whom she chaperoned walk across the state, she was hooked.
"My life has been changed for the better by knowing and working with each and every Miss Delaware. It truly is a family."
"It all came together when I saw her on stage. I thought, this is all about making her feel her best, win or lose, as long as she feels her best," she says.
Debi officially kicked off her work in the organization in 1985 when she was asked to be an auxiliary board member, a role she played for two years. In 1987, she became a "full-fledged" board member, which gave her voting rights on things like fundraising ideas, scholarships, and scheduling. The only two positions she's never held are treasurer and choreographer. She leaves those to the experts, she says.
Debi's capacity as executive directed expanded her involvement in the Miss Delaware pageant. She oversees the organization and preparation of Miss Delaware for the Miss America pageant, and all that it entails.
Miss Delaware 2011 Maria Cahill describes her relationship with the executive director as more familial than professional. Maria says she relied on Debi heavily after she won the title because it was her first Miss Delaware competition. Maria and her family looked to Debi to learn the ins and outs of the organization.
"I was lucky because we live close to each other. Whenever I needed someone to talk to, and a phone call wasn't good enough, I would literally drive over to her house. A lot of times it was overwhelming for me. She helped me stay grounded," Maria says.
Time has seen Debi develop into a well-rounded communicator. Her dealings have made her into a better public speaker and leader, and written communication comes easier to her at this point than it did in the beginning. But her life is not the only one that has changed because of the organization. To be involved is to improve one's being.
"The lives of those who volunteer with the Miss America Organization are also changed as they benefit from helping young women reach their goals. The communities in which we all live are beneficiary of the hard work that all contestants commit to their platforms," Debi says.Subscribe to fourpoints to read more about Debi Wilson and the Miss Delaware program!
Once Elizabeth performs, she will join Miss Delaware 2011 Maria Cahill, Miss New Jersey 2011 Katharyn Nicolle, Miss Pennsylvania 2011 Juliann Sheldon, Miss Delaware's Outstanding Teen 2011 Victoria Brown-O'Brien, Miss New Jersey's Outstanding Teen 2011 Natalie Ragazzo, Miss Pennsylvania's Outstanding Teen 2011 Kaitlynne Kline, and seven of Miss America's Outstanding Teen Princesses as they ride on the Kittens float through the parade route. There will be about 850,000 people that participate in this year's parade and it will be viewed in more than 3.2 million homes across the nation. We wish Elizabeth and all of our MAO and MAOTeen participants the best of luck.
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