Kelsey Hollis, Miss Houston County’s Outstanding Teen, was crowned Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen on Friday in Columbus at the annual Miss Georgia pageant.
It is the third year in a row that a young woman from the Miss Warner Robins pageant has won a state title at the pageant. Olivia McMillian won Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen two years ago and went on to win the national title. Betty Cantrell won Miss Georgia last year and is the reigning Miss America.
Rodney Johnson, executive director of the Miss Warner Robins pageant, said he was asked several times, “What’s in the water in Warner Robins?” – after Kelsey’s win Friday night and a three-peat for Warner Robins.
“Love, grace and blessings,” was Johnson’s reply.
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Kelsey won two of the three nights of preliminary competition on her way to the top award. She is a rising senior at Houston County High School, where she was crowned Miss Houston County High School.
“All I could do is watch her during the crowning and feel the joy she was experiencing. Kelsey gets this look on her face when she is happy and it was so wonderful to see,” Kelsey’s mother, Talenthea Hollis, said after the crowning at Miss Georgia.
Kelsey is also a past Miss Warner Robins Outstanding Teen.
Kelsey’s platform is autism awareness with an emphasis on siblings, a personal issue for Kelsey because her brother, Jeremy, has autism.
She organized the Miss Houston County Queen of Summer pageant and continues to serve as director so that young women in Houston County with special needs could have the opportunity to compete in pageants.
“Her passion is making things accessible for people with disabilities, especially those with autism,” her mother said. “Being the sibling of a someone with special needs, it is where Kelsey lives. She knows what it feels like when someone ridicules someone with a disability, she understands the challenges of having a member in the family with special needs.”
“Most of her childhood was spent in the background — going to Jeremy’s doctor appointments or to his therapy appointments. Fair doesn’t mean that everybody gets the same thing. Fair is you get what you need while somebody else gets what they need. Now is her time to get what she needs, an opportunity to share her story.”
Hollis will receive a $2,500 scholarship and the opportunity to compete in the 2016 Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition starting Aug. 2 in Orlando, Florida.
Miss Starr Mill Caroline Poole was named first runner-up and will receive a $1,500 scholarship. Second runner-up went to Miss Capital City Yuri-Grace Ohashi, who received a $1,000 scholarship.
Other runners-up were Miss Macon Annie Swan in third place, receiving a $750 scholarship, and Miss Atlanta Sabrina Elson in fourth, receiving $500. The remaining semifinalists received a $350 scholarship and the top 15 received $250.
Information from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer was used in this report.