PARKERSBURG - When Sara Taylor signed her 2-year-old daughter, Grace, up for the 2014 Pure American state pageant, she had no plans of being a contestant herself.
Taylor said the Pure American Pageants are a system of pageants based on Christian principles.
According to pureamericanpageant.com, the pageants are designed to promote the values of good self-esteem and self-confidence in women and girls of all ages.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Sara Taylor, left, and her daughter, Grace, will both be competing in the national competition of the Pure American Pageants in Cincinnati July 8-13.
"We encourage dreams and give our ladies the tools and opportunities needed to achieve them," said Pat Miller, national director. "We strive to teach strong professional qualities so ladies can be more effective and efficient workers in the professional world. Pure American Pageants is founded on Christian beliefs. By using positive words and actions, we hope to transform lives, advocate Christian lifestyles, and aid individuals in growing a relationship with Christ.
"We encourage our contestants to 'Inspire! Lead! Achieve!' and make their mark in life."
Taylor said she was told about the pageants and never dreamed she would be a contestant.
"Somebody told me about it for my 2-year-old daughter," she said. "Originally it was going to be for Grace and then we decided to go as a team."
Taylor, 22, and a 2011 graduate of Parkersburg South High School, said she and her daughter both placed in their divisions at a preliminary pageant and then at the state pageant on May 25 in Huntington, where the Miss Kentucky was also crowned.
Taylor said the national pageant will take place July 8-13 in Cincinnati. Taylor said Grace will compete in the 2-year-old age group and Sara will compete in the Miss division for women ages 19-25.
Taylor said the organization has a number of categories up to an "Elegant Miss" for women who are 50 and older.
"I've been told there will be 150 contestants, counting all categories, at the nationals," she said.
Taylor said while it was a first for her, it was not the first for Grace.
"She's been in the West Virginia Interstate Fair pageant winning toddler queen in 2013 and Miss Breast Cancer Awareness Toddler Queen," she said.
Taylor said as she learned more about the Pure American organization she decided she would give the pageant a try.
"I liked it because Pure is Christian-based and they believe in inspiring others," she said. "I got Grace into it because the director was so nice to us and I, in turn, decided to go ahead and try."
Since she has a daughter she is often asked why she competes in the Miss category.
"I was previously married but now I'm a single mom," she said. "I get that question a lot, because they ask me why at 22 and with a daughter I'm in the Miss division."
Taylor said while Grace doesn't say anything about the pageants, she seems to enjoy the attention.
"With the hotel and the pool, and the luncheon she had more fun than I had," she said. "Of course I was walking in heels and I'm not much of a heel person, but she was in her baby heels."
Taylor said they are doing community service for the pageant. Their project is with the Grace Project through the Latrobe Street Mission.
"Pure American Pageants has inspired us to help inspire others in leading by example and to achieve our dreams of helping others," she said.
After the pageant, Taylor said, she hopes someday to start a nonprofit organization to help mothers of premature babies.
Sara is looking for sponsors to the national competition and will make appearances for sponsors by calling 304-615-9084.