Sisters and Best Friends Prepare for 2023 Miss Texas Pageant

The word “pageant” can often evoke an immediate negative emotion. Some think of the stereotypical girl vying for a sparkly crown and tearing her competitors down at all costs to win. In reality, the Miss Texas America pageant is the opposite. The Miss America pageant is a scholarship organization focused on community service and scholarships. They provide over one million dollars to titleholders nationwide. Young women can win scholarships, showcase their talent, meet lifelong friends, and work in their community. Over the last four decades, the Miss Texarkana and Miss Twin Rivers Organizations have had Top 10, Top 5, and State Winners, such as Jessie Ward Bennet, representing Texarkana, winning Miss Arkansas 2001. Stacy James Mayo, a former Miss Texarkana representing Lake O’ the Pines, won Miss Texas that same year. Sunni Cranfill West, from Hooks, won Miss Texas in 2003. Allie Graves, a graduate of Texas High, won Miss Texas Outstanding Teen and served two years because of Covid. These women continue to advocate for the Miss America organization and say the organization and opportunity improved their lives. For some, it has even paid for their entire undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The Miss Texarkana Pageant was held on March 5th of this year. Olivia Dowd, a 13-year-old, soon-to-be 8th grader attending St. James Day School, competed in her first pageant and won. Olivia holds the title of Miss Twin Rivers Outstanding Teen 2023. She will compete for the state title of Miss Texas Outstanding Teen the week of June 25-July 1 in Richardson, Texas. Her parents are Joe Dowd and Natasha and Aaron Bray of Texarkana. The Miss America Organization also encourages community service. For her initiative, Olivia has chosen to spread awareness about the dangers of prescription medications with a program called Prescriptions Drugs Are Still Drugs. 
There is a misconception that just because a physician prescribes a medication, it is safe. When used correctly, that is usually true. However, prescription drug abuse is a quickly growing issue in our country. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the fastest-growing drug problem in the US is not cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines. It is a prescription drug. Teen prescription drug abuse can lead to addiction and, in some cases, even death. 
Reports show that two thousand teenagers every day abuse prescription drugs for the first time. Fifteen percent of all high school seniors have abused prescription drugs, making them more likely to use other illicit drugs. These teens are up to twenty times more likely to use illegal street drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Some teens get these medicines from friends or relatives, but the reality is that many are prescribed them. 
“I have personally lost two uncles, my mother’s brother, to issues surrounding addiction. That addiction started with prescription pain medication prescribed by a dentist. I want to spread awareness, and I was able to bring a presentation by Dr. Matt Young to my school called ONE PILL CAN KILL. This is an important topic, and I am grateful for this opportunity.” Livi said.
Alexi Mayo and Bailey Dowd will participate in the Lonestar Princess Program this year. The Lonestar Princess Program is a program to allow younger girls to get involved with the Miss America Organization and support a Teen and Miss Titleholder. It is a fundraiser for the pageant and helps provide scholarship money. Each princess gets to escort their titleholder on stage during evening wear. For Olivia, it wasn’t hard to choose who her Lonestar Princesses would be. Her sister, Bailey, who is only 13 months younger but not old enough to compete, was her first and obvious choice. Her second choice was one of her best friends Alexis Mayo, who also won Miss Pre Teen Texarkana. Olivia, Bailey, and Alexis have known each other since they were 3 and 4 years old and have grown up alongside each other. “When Livi won, we were all screaming at the top of our lungs!” Alexis Mayo said. The three friends, known to their parents as the “triplets,” enjoy supporting each other in many activities. It helps that the families are also dear friends, and Natasha said, “I am so grateful to Stacy for helping us get ready for Miss Texas Teen. We are lucky to have her as such a dear friend.” 
Because this is Olivia’s first year and she is one of the youngest in the pageant, she has had to learn a lot quickly. Her favorite area of competition is the interview, but she also likes talent. She will be playing the piano. She has also completed and written dozens of essays for scholarship opportunities awarded to the Visionary Brunch contestants. Last year, Miss Texas gave away over $60,000 in scholarships. Olivia is a dedicated member of her school’s Science Olympiad Team, which enabled her to qualify for the STEM-related scholarship and several others. 
Will sister Bailey follow in her sister’s footsteps? “I wasn’t sure about pageants in the beginning, but now that I’ve seen Livi get many new opportunities due to the pageant, I want to participate next year,” said Bailey. “I am the youngest of the three of us, so I want Livi to crown Bailey and Bailey to crown me!” Alexis said. 
Whatever happens, these three are creating memories and are showing that pageant girls are intelligent and talented young women who want to make a difference. These three will continue to do so in the future.


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