MONROE, Louisiana — The newly crowned Miss Louisiana 2014 Lacey Sanchez, a college athlete and competitor at heart, said she's ready for the challenges of representing the state and competing in the Miss America pageant in September.
Sanchez, whose preliminary title was Miss Lafayette, was named the 51st Miss Louisiana during a pageant held in the Monroe Civic Center Jack Howard theater last month.
The News-Star reports (http://tnsne.ws/1mGiwF7) no Miss Louisiana has ever been crowned Miss America, but Sanchez's mom said that's just the inspiration her daughter needs.
"Don't present Lacey with a challenge if you don't want her to meet it," Paula Sanchez said. "Don't tell her she can't do something because she will prove that she can."
Lacey Sanchez is a graduate student at Louisiana State University in mass communications. Earning her masters degree is a goal that Sanchez is determined to achieve.
But, her win will mean putting off writing her graduate thesis one more year as she travels the state making public appearances and speaking in support of the Children's Miracle Network, the philanthropy choice of both Miss Louisiana and the Miss America pageant.
"I have a huge passion for working with children," Sanchez said. "I can't wait to be the spokesperson for the state for the Children's Miracle Network and visit the kids in the hospitals and continue to raise funds for them. I love it. I learn so much every single time I visit the kids at the hospital."
In addition to being named Miss Louisiana, Sanchez also was named the Miracle Maker of the pageant for raising more than $21,000 for Children's Miracle Network. Sanchez began working with the charity when she was 12 by collecting toys for the children in the hospital.
Sanchez entered her first competition as a dare from her Phi Mu sorority sisters at Southeastern Louisiana University and won. She said that as a part of the track and field team, pole vaulting came naturally to her, but "being a girl" is something that she admits she really had to work on.
"We had to hire someone to teach her how to walk in heels and to put on her makeup and do her hair," Paula Sanchez recalled.
Sanchez said her family's support has made all the difference in her reaching her goal of becoming Miss Louisiana.
Sanchez said she believes her love of Louisiana will help her to stand out among the other contestants in the Miss America pageant.
"I'm very Louisiana-centric," she said. "We have such a unique and rich culture, and I think I embrace that. We have our hospitality and our warmth and I want to bring that to the national level. I think if I just do that and be true to myself and my roots and who my family raised me to be, I will definitely stand out."
In September, Sanchez and the other Miss America contestants will temporarily relocate to Atlantic City for three weeks to prepare for the pageant, make public appearances and vie for the title.
"Being an athlete, I'm such a competitor," Sanchez said. "I can't wait to be there and compete for my state and represent us."
Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com