"Not believing is like telling God that you think that your problem is greater than Jesus. It's like telling God that you do not believe that everything is possible."
First Deaf Miss America Crowned
Heather Whitestone, an orally educated deaf woman from Birmingham, Alabama, wins the coveted crown. She states, "[Speech] worked for me, but it does not work for all deaf children."
Her role model, Helen Keller, stressed the importance of knowing your problems and then working with them, and that is a message she has striven to live by and teach others.
"The doctor said a normal life would not be possible for me, that I would not be able to drive," she said. "I am here to tell you I can drive. I have had no crashes and only one speeding ticket. I passed my driving test on the first try," she said. "My two sisters went in the Air Force. They didn’t pass their driving test the first time."
"The judges (of the pageant) asked me how I handled my handicap, and I said, ‘The same way you handle yours,’ " she recalled, drawing more laughter from the crowd.
Preparing for her dance routine was often frustrating. She had to memorize the song and the steps she would make during each part, so that her timing would be correct even if she couldn’t hear the song well. She said she set small goals that brought her to her big achievement, the complete dance at the pageant.
"The more I practiced the music, I figured out how to do it," she said. "You didn’t know how many times I failed before that. But when I failed, it wasn’t a dead-end street. It’s just saying, ‘Don’t go thatway.’"