Miss America would like everyone to know that she's not just
another pretty face. Heather Whitestone, who spoke at a Club
luncheon Feb. 15, is the first Miss America with a disability; she
has been deaf since she was 18 months old. Her "personal platform"
as Miss America is a message aimed at young people entitled
"Anything is Possible," that disabilities can be overcome if the
person is determined, works hard and has a strong support system.
She said that her religious faith also was a powerful force in
helping her to focus on her abilities rather than her disability.
She stressed the importance of early detection of hearing loss and
said she was lucky. Thanks to her parents' alertness, early
detection enabled her to begin her journey toward learning to
speak. And the journey was arduous: "It took six years to say my
last name correctly." The National Press Club Record, Volume
XLV, No. 7. February 23, 1995.
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