From Winchester to Vegas, Baxter calls pageantry “hard work” –
By Patricia Beech –
Dinaleigh Baxter of Winchester, Miss Ohio USA 2017, will be judging contestants in the Adams County Fair’s Queen Pageant in July.
Baxter, who recently participated in the Miss USA 2017 pageant at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, says beauty won’t be the only quality she looks for among the Fair Queen contestants.
“The girls should know that beauty isn’t everything,” she says. “You’ll also be judged on your heart, and how hard you’ve worked, and what you’ve accomplished.”
Baxter says her experience competing in the Miss USA pageant allows her to empathize with the girls who will be competing for Fair Queen.
“You would be surprised by the amount of work that goes into it. I trained for the competition for nine months, but when I got there I felt I still wasn’t prepared because until you get there, you really have no idea what it’s going to take.”
The North Adams High School graduate says competing for the Miss USA title was the culmination of a life-long dream.
“There’s no better feeling than crossing off a dream you’ve had your entire life,” she says. “I worked for it and I got to touch the dream. I didn’t bring the crown home, but it was still an amazing experience.”
As part of her two-week training leading up to the Miss USA competition, Baxter met daily with interview coaches and personal coaches. Additionally, she spent many hours in physical training, lifting weights every morning and boxing every night.
“My day started at 6 a.m. and didn’t end until midnight,” Baxter told The Defender. “It was exhausting, but I had to become the best I could be, and I had to define myself in a productive way that would allow my story to have an impact on others.”
Baxter’s story is one of unexpected twists and turns. While in college she contracted an infection that brought on congestive heart failure which prompted her organs to begin shutting down. Doctors gave her only a 30 percent chance of living, but she defied the odds and survived.
The 24-year-old says she believes diversity and self-acceptance are key components of living a successful life.
“When we’re young, the things we consider weaknesses often turn out to be our strengths, and the things we think hold us back turn out to be the things that empower us,” she says. “My own personal trials made me strong enough to go up on that stage and compete. Without them, I might not have had the courage. I want young people to know it’s okay to be different – diversity is what makes all of us special so be happy with who you are.”