SPRING HILL — The new Mrs. Tennessee and Mrs. Mississippi were crowned Sunday at a special pageant held at Spring Hill Middle School.
The titles went to Mrs. Southeast Tennessee Trinity Pearson and Mrs. North Mississippi Allie Kendall.
"I am so excited about this next year," said Pearson, a cancer survivor. "I am just so thankful for the upcoming year and to be able to share my story to spread awareness for melanoma and recruit more women to this amazing system."
Pearson was diagnosed when pregnant with her second daughter 10 years ago.
"If this happened to me. this could happen to anybody, Kendall said. "That is my philosophy. People go through pain, everybody has a story. Just remain strong. I was the first person in my family to go to college and am now a registered nurse, a school nurse and now Mrs. Mississippi. It is unreal."
The two contestants will now represent their home states at the national Mrs. America Pageant set to be held in Las Vegas this August.
"I am so excited to go to Las Vegas and meet everyone," Pearson said. "It has been a dream for years and a dream finally come true."
For the first time in the pageant's history, the event was held in Spring Hill, marking an opportunity for the growing community.
Organized by 1994 Mrs. Tennessee Delayna Bridges, the Spring Hill resident said she was proud to host the pageant in her community.
This year marked Bridges' 25th consecutive year as the event's organizer. She began running the pageant just a year after earning her title.
Her youngest daughter is a student of Spring Hill Middle School.
"Spring Hill is finally getting the facilities that we need to put on this event," Bridges said. "We are proud of our community. Nashville has gotten to the point where they have outpriced themselves. Hotels are too expensive for their families and Franklin is kind of the same way. We are proud of Spring Hill and we are proud of the history here. It is fun for us to show off our home town."
The event was previously held in Jackson, Collierville, Franklin as well as Corinth, Tupelo and Tunica in Mississippi.
Bridges said she hopes to keep the event in Spring Hill for 2019.
She was recognized for her long-time dedication to the pageant and its contestants.
"She has built and sustained a lasting legacy," fellow pageant coordinator Caitlin Jadofsky said on stage Sunday. "With this system, there is so much work that gets put into this but there is so much that we get out of it."
This year the pageant raised more than $2,000 to go toward the Victoria's Voice Foundation, an organization dedicated to battling the national epidemic of opioid addiction.
"We are a small group here but together we have a big voice," Bridges said. "Opioid addiction affects everyone. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor."
The tragic loss of 18-year-old Florida girl Victoria Siegel compelled her family to start the foundation in her name.
The Victoria's Voice Foundation takes aim at reducing drug experimentation, addiction and overdose death by supporting legislation to encourage locking up prescription medications, legislation for the co-prescription of naloxone, a safe opiate-reversal drug that can pull someone out of an overdose state, and implementation of a policy platform for random drug testing in partnership with educational institutions.
5-at-10: Weekend winners and losers, NCAA tournament musings, Free contests, Rushmores in honor of Darryl Strawberry