Many of the contestants at the Miss Mississippi Pageant have overcome incredible odds to participate. One had a medical condition that led to bullying, another was raped and says while surviving sexual assault is nothing to laugh at, she did find a hidden talent, comedy.
Laura Lee Lewis is from Brookhaven. She won the title of Miss Mississippi's Outstanding Teen but says a facial condition made her a target for bullies.
"it was difficult," said Lewis. "I have hemifacial dysplasia. This part of my face I over developed, and this part of my face never developed. I didn't have cheeks, they just weren't there, so my face was kind of caved in."
Lewis who is competing as Miss Mississippi State University has had surgery but says it was the Miss Mississippi Pageant System that helped her build confidence. Last year she was 2nd alternate.
"All that I did and all that foundation that I built as a teen and growing up and going through surgery to fix my problem," added Lewis. "It was just the moment of uhh, oh my goodness."
Dalee Kimble, Miss Leaf River Valley, says she has so much to be proud of. Her father is a former coach for Robin Roberts. But she says it was hard for many years to smile after she was the victim of sexual assault.
"When I was 18 years old I was raped in a parking lot at knife point," said Kimble. "And even though my life was not over, it felt like it was."
Kimble says she is a survivor and is the only stand up comedian at the pageant. She's the first contestant that anyone can think of to do a comedy routine. She has been the opening act for several of the contestants on NBC's Last Comic Standing.
"For me, finding the positive things in life, I really had to joke a lot to get to the point where I could see what happened to me as a blessing," Kimble told us.
Contestants say overcoming obstacles has made them advocates and they hope by winning the title of Miss Mississippi they can become a symbol of what determination and faith can accomplish.
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