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Saturday was a night when a dream came true for one local young woman.
Lizzy Graves was named the 2012 Distinguished Young Woman of Washington County Saturday night, and she said she had looked forward to the experience for years.
“I have been waiting for this since I was four years old,” Graves said. “I’ve missed coming to Junior Miss one time since I was four. I can’t believe it. It’s a dream come true.”
The Distinguished Young Women program was formerly known as Junior Miss, and the name changed this year due to a desire by sponsors to set the event apart from beauty pageants and focus on it as a scholarship pageant.
Graves is the daughter of Tim and Lori Graves of Springfield. Her mom competed in 1988, and her aunt, Sherry Blandford Grant, was the 1990 Washington County Junior Miss.
Lori said the family was nervous for Lizzy for a long time leading up to Saturday night.
“We’ve been nervous all day, and all week. We were extremely nervous,” she said. “We thought she did really well, but we didn’t know for sure. You never know until the end.”
That wasn’t true for everyone. Grant, a former Junior Miss winner, knew the signs as she looked on from the audience.
“I was kind of thinking in my head, ‘She’s won a couple of awards,’ and with scholastics being a big part of that, I figured she had it in the bag,” Grant said. “She did really well. I was really proud of her. She had poise, and I knew she probably did really well in the interview. She’s a beautiful girl and she carries herself so well. I had a feeling she would win.”
Lizzy’s dad was as emotional as anyone, and he admitted he shed some tears.
“It’s breathtaking. I’ve just cried, she did so good,” Tim said. “I can’t imagine the courage it takes for all of these girls to get up on that stage and perform in front of a crowd like that. It’s amazing. We’re just ecstatic. Everything she does makes me proud of her.”
In addition to taking the title of Distinguished Young Woman of Washington County, Lizzy also won awards for self expression, talent and scholastic categories. The talent segment may have been the most interesting, since she changed her mind late in the game. She had originally planned to sing the song “Reflections” from the Disney movie “Mulan.” Instead, she took the advice of Jan Fattizzi, with the Central Kentucky Community Theatre, and sang “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s “Pocahontas.” Lizzy said she wasn’t nervous, but just excited, when she took the stage.
“I had so much adrenaline, and I was excited. I really didn’t get nervous. I had practiced a lot, and had a different talent, but changed it at the last minute. Mrs. Fattizzi talked me into it, and I can’t wait to text her and tell her,” Lizzy said. Fattizzi could not attend because she was out of town, touring New York with the community theatre.
Others winning awards included Daphne White, daughter of Darnell and Holli White, who was first runner-up. She also won awards for her performances in fitness and interview. Second runner-up was Mary Bess Hodgen, daughter of Robert and Sherri Hodgen. Mary Bess won an award for her singing in the talent category. Third runner-up was Katie Cambron, who also won a scholastic and interview award. Katie is the daughter of Joe and Carolyn Cambron.
Morgan Smith, daughter of Larry and Mary Tena Smith, won a fitness award.
Olivia Smith, daughter of Patrick and Michelle Smith, won a self-expression award.
Clara Mudd won the spirit award. She is the daughter of Melody Mudd and Joe and Sue Mudd.
Graves will represent Washington County at the Distinguished Young Woman of Kentucky program, which will take place in January 2012.