2014 Miss Vidalia credits caring community in pageant crowning

Published 12:01 am Monday, February 3, 2014

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat  — Cheyenne Cavazos, from left, Haleigh Johnson (No. 4) and Carli Hicks (No. 8) celebrate when Rachel Buford  (No. 10) who was named Miss Vidalia.

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Cheyenne Cavazos, from left, Haleigh Johnson (No. 4) and Carli Hicks (No. 8) celebrate when Rachel Buford (No. 10) who was named Miss Vidalia.

VIDALIA — Rachel Buford has overcome tremendous adversity in her life with a willful determination to succeed.

That determination culminated Saturday night when the 17-year-old Vidalia High School senior was crowned this year’s Miss Vidalia.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” she said. “It was a very shocking moment.”

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Buford competed against 14 other pageant participants who were judged in a variety of categories, including interview, evening gown, casual wear and dance.

During the interview portion of the competition, which took place before the pageant, judges asked why Buford wanted to be Miss Vidalia.

The main reason Buford wanted the title, she said, was to enable her to give back to a community that had given so much to her.

Buford’s father, Glenn, died suddenly from the West Nile Virus in 2012, and Buford said the support and generosity from fellow Vidalians meant a great deal to her family.

“Everybody was so caring for me when my dad got sick that I just wanted to give back in a positive way … and what better way to do that than under the guidance of the Vidalia’s Women’s Club and being in the pageant.”

Buford’s father also battled throat cancer in 2006, and caring for her father then allowed Buford to find a passion for which she has decided to make a career.

“Taking care of him really made me want to nurse,” she said.

Buford plans to attended Delta Community College for two years and then transfer to the University of Louisiana at Monroe to complete a nursing degree.

During her interview before the pageant, Buford’s answer for whom is her role model was someone close to her heart.

“My sister-in-law, Heather Boyette, is my role model because she has always been like a sister to me, and no matter what the situation is, I can always count on her,” Buford said.

Buford said she hopes to use her crown to become a role model for young girls in Vidalia.

“When I was little, I always looked up to the girls who were in the pageant,” she said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and now I want to be the role model to others and (impact) them in a positive way.”

Confident, thoughtful and driven were the three adjectives Buford used to describe herself to judges.

“I’m confident because no matter what life throws at me, I keep my head up,” she said. “I’m thoughtful because I try to be aware of everyone’s feelings around me, and I am driven because I am determined to reach the goals I’ve set for myself.

Buford and the top five contestants were asked questions they randomly drew on stage. Buford was asked what she sees when she looks in the mirror.

“I see a headstrong, independent young woman … who is determined to do whatever it takes to reach her goals.

Buford is the daughter of Terri Buford and the late Glenn Buford.

Buford is a Vidalia High cheerleader and was chosen as captain this year. She has been selected as an All-American cheerleader for the past three years. She is also a member of the Beta Club and Juniorettes.

Buford also participates in the Miss-Lou Relay for Life, fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House and various other activities

The annual Miss Vidalia pageant is hosted by the Vidalia Women’s Club.