The Miss Peach Blossom pageant was held last weekend and several young women received titles. Among them was Emily Rowland of Warner Robins, who was named Teen Miss Peach Blossom. Emily holds numerous pageant titles and uses for her platform, “Epilepsy is my gift.”
Emily, 14, who was diagnosed at age 9 with epilepsy, suffers from severe migraines and seizures associated with her epilepsy.
Medicine has so far not made an impact on Emily’s condition, and surgery, because all four of Emily’s brain lobes are affected by epilepsy, is not an option. Emily’s condition has gotten worse as she has grown older.
Her mother, Brandi Rowland, said that during the seizures Emily’s brain basically just shuts down.
“She is sort of like in a coma, she is completely unresponsive. It can last for hours or days and she usually requires a hospital stay,” Rowland said.
In fact, in 2015 alone, Emily has been in the hospital more than she has been out. Her condition restricts her ability to participate in activities -- physical activity like sports or even walking to class can trigger a seizure. Her physical stamina is also greatly impacted by the consistency of her seizures.
Also greatly impacted is her ability to attend school. A ninth-grader at Warner Robins High School, she has attended only four days at the building this school year already.
While medications have not been able to control Emily’s seizures, there are ones given to her for her recovery. However she cannot attend school while taking these medications.
While at school, she has to be escorted to and from classes, since the onset of seizure will leave her disoriented.
An honor student, Emily continues her schoolwork with assignments her teachers at Warner Robins High School send home. An instructor comes to the house as well to help Emily make up for the absences.
But even with her daily health struggles and the things she has had to give up in life, such as cheerleading, Emily continues to do pageants.
“The people she has met through pageants have really become a support network for her,” Rowland said. “When she is seizing, I send out a message and they all lift her up in prayer.”
But while she enjoys pageants, Emily’s main reason for continuing to do them is to share her story.
One in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy in their lifetime; about 3 million American currently have epilepsy and about 50,000 people die from complications of epilepsy every year in the United States.
“I just want people to know that they aren’t alone. You might be struggling with something but you can still achieve great things,” Emily said. “You just have to use your challenges as a stepping stone not a stumbling block.”
Winners, preliminary awards and runners-up in all categories of the Miss Peach Blossom pageant include:
Miss Peach Blossom (prettiest eyes, smile, photogenic) -- Lizzy Stanford of Cuthbert; first runner-up -- Tiffany Pitts of Warner Robins; second runner-up (prettiest dress and hair) -- Morgan Greir Glaser of Perry.
Teen Miss Peach Blossom (prettiest dress, smile, hair) -- Emily Grace Rowland of Warner Robins; first runner-up (photogenic winner) -- Morgan Mullis of Forsyth; prettiest eyes -- Savannah Miles of Lawrenceville.
Junior Miss Peach Blossom (prettiest smile, hair, eyes) -- Lexi Belle Hardy of Hawkinsville; first runner-up (prettiest dress) Kandice Lumpkin of Haynesville; second runner-up (photogenic) -- Anna Grace Myers of Dublin; third runner-up -- Averi Smith of Americus.
Young Miss Peach Blossom (prettiest dress, smile, and eyes) -- Emmi Jean England of Hawkinsville; first runner-up (prettiest hair and photogenic) -- Mary-Margaret Waddell of Americus; second runner-up -- Janey Claire Meeks of Dublin; third runner-up -- Maycie Smith of Forsyth.
Little Miss Peach Blossom (prettiest dress, smile, hair, eyes) -- Summer Sinyard of Hawkinsville; first runner-up -- Emma Kate Peacock of Dublin; second runner-up -- Rayne Rowley of Hawkinsville; third runner-up -- Rayanna Harrell of Kathleen; fourth runner-up (photogenic) -- Khloe Little of Cordele
Tiny Miss Peach Blossom (prettiest smile, eyes,photogenic) -- Abigail Goss of Hawkinsville; first runner-up -- Ansley Brown of Eastman; second runner-up -- Jessa Grinolds of Kathleen; third runner-up (prettiest dress and hair) -- Carolina Peacock of Eastman; fourth runner-up -- Kinslie Summer White of Perry
Baby Miss Peach Blossom (prettiest dress, smile, hair) -- Lilah Cate of Rhine; first runner-up -- Kate Shores of Dublin; second runner-up London James of Macon; third runner-up (prettiest eyes and photogenic -- Rylee Jones of Hawkinsville.