Miss Mississippi 2013 begins - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Miss Mississippi 2013 begins

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VICKSBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

This is the 56th year the city of Vicksburg has hosted the Miss Mississippi Pageant. Four Miss Mississippi's have gone on to become Miss America.

Thirty-five contestants arrived in Vicksburg Sunday morning to begin a week of competition, including the first legally blind contestant to compete on the Miss Mississippi stage.

This year the Miss Mississippi Pageant will feature music from the 1960's through today. In addition to the 35 contestants there are 65 princesses and seven princes who will participate in production numbers.

Ali Blackledge says her life has been all about second chances. She was runner up at the Miss Deep South Scholarship Pageant.

"I found out 6 days ago that I would be competing. A girl had another opportunity and had to drop out and they called me at 10 o'clock one night and said can you go? And I said why not?", Blackledge told us.

Blackledge says though she is working against the clock, the other contestants have stepped up.. Even using their down time to help her learn every step in the production numbers.

"When I was a child I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, because of that I'm legally blind, so I have to depend on others a lot, and that's the same thing I've had to do this week. All the girls have taken me under their wing", explained Blackledge.

Jasmine Murray was first runner up to the reigning Miss Mississippi,  Marie Wicks. She says the last year has been tough with the loss of her 18 month old niece to a bacterial infection.

"Honestly she was completely fine the night before..It was extremely sudden so that was even harder, for that to happen just in a matter of hours and so I can definitely sympathize with anyone who has lost someone because before this, I had never lost anyone close to me", Murray said.

Murray says the death of her niece has made each day more important.

"We're a very close family and so we're always together, and its definitely made me appreciate my family and those around me so much more", said Murray.

The former American Idol contestant along with Miss Deep South and 33 other contestants are hoping for another life changing experience. They are hoping they will be chosen as the next young woman who will become Miss Mississippi 2013.

Thursday night at 10 Jewell Hillary will have a special report with Kennitra Thompson, Miss Rankin County/Southwest, who is battling a rare disease, Steven Johnson Syndrome.

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