Woodbury girl to compete in Miss Teen Minnesota pageant SaturdayWoodbury resident Gabby Taylor, 17, will compete in Miss Teen Minnesota Pageant March 12-13 in St. Cloud.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
In the fall of 2009 Gabby Taylor was on top of the world. She was a sophomore at East Ridge High School and she was cheerleading captain. She was in total control of her life. Then, came the day that would change the rest of her life.
It was an average cheerleading practice and the squad was practicing a new stunt. But something went wrong when a fellow cheerleader landed on Taylor’s neck. Taylor worked through the pain twice, but that would be the last time she would ever cheer. Taylor received significant nerve damage causing her right arm to be paralyzed.
“It was pretty traumatic,” she said. “I haven’t been able to move my hand since.”
Taylor, now 17, has turned her traumatic accident into something positive since she is competing for the title of Miss Teen Minnesota by telling her story.
The Miss Teen Minnesota pageant will be March 12-13 at the Ritsch Auditorium in St. Cloud. A total of 16 girls will compete.
“This pageant is the perfect opportunity to get the word out and make sure that what happened to me didn’t happen to anyone else,” Taylor said. “If I can get that crown on my head it’s instant credibility and people will listen.”
Taylor’s platform is sports safety and education.
Taylor was crowned Miss Teen Woodbury in August.
The winner of the Miss Teen Minnesota Pageant will receive scholarship money and a ticket to the Miss Teen International Pageant.
From victim to advocate
After Taylor’s accident, she said it was a struggle to cope with the after effects. For starters, Taylor missed four months of school eventually deciding to take classes online with Minnesota Virtual Academy.
After going through surgeries and physical therapy, Taylor still didn’t have the use of her right arm, which was quite devastating for Taylor since she was right handed.
“It’s been quite the struggle coping with my paralyzed arm,” she said. “I’ve had to relearn how to do everything such as homework, writing, doing my makeup and getting dressed.
“Not knowing when or how much I’m going to recover has been the biggest struggle, I used to be so in control of my life and now I’m not in control at all.
“I’ve been robbed of some of my high school experiences.”
Currently, Taylor is able to wiggle her fingers and doctors think her prognosis is good.
It was shortly after the accident that Taylor made the decision that she wanted to spread awareness about athletic safety and injuries.
“After my injury, I decided that I have to do something to get the word out,” she said. “So, I kind of had to switch gears.”
It was by chance that Taylor came across the Miss Teen Minnesota pageant. Taylor had previously been a royal ambassador for the city of Shakopee and had by chance heard of the pageant.
Not your typical beauty pageant
Part of the Miss Teen Minnesota pageant that makes it different than others is that it is a platform-centered competition.
Additionally, each candidate must partner with an organization for her platform.
Taylor has partnered with the National Center for Sports Safety.
“We need to make sure our coaches are certified properly and are aware of what can happen if rules aren’t being followed,” Taylor said. “Accidents can happen, I’m a living example of that.”
Sometimes so-called “beauty pageants” can carry with them certain negative connotations of vanity, but Taylor said the Miss Teen International pageant, which is the overriding organization for the Miss Teen Minnesota pageant, is anything but your typical pageant.
“All of these girls aren’t just beauties, they are beauties with a cause,” she said. “It’s not just about the beauty, it’s about the brains too.”
In preparing for the Miss Teen Minnesota pageant, Taylor said she has been practicing her interview skills, public speaking and even her modeling.
“I’m not really into the modeling side so much,” she said. “I’m more of a platform type girl.”
Taylor said her experience with the Miss Teen Minnesota pageant has been a rewarding one since she has met so many great girls and heard so many great stories.
Taylor said she could not have done any of this if it weren’t for her sponsors, Anytime Fitness and Summit Orthopedics.
“I feel blessed being able to compete, I’m so happy to even have this opportunity to do this,” she said. “I’m hoping to win just like everyone.
“I feel special, I didn’t choose my platform, my platform chose me — the stars are all aligned.”
For more information on Gabby Taylor and her platform visit www.gabbytaylor.com.