by Julie Gyselinck
Becky Rose of Greenville, SC has lived on Edisto Beach since 2003. She is representing Edisto Beach and the state of South Carolina in the 2015 senior Ms. America pageant. Tall, blond, beautiful and outgoing Becky, at first glance, fits the idea of a pageant queen to a tee. Don’t let her appearance and grace fool you. Becky has a story to share and a cause she is fighting for. While many beauty queens platform for anti-bullying, Becky has lived through it. She fought it and she survived it. Here is her story. We wish her luck and know she will continue to make us proud.
Born with a cleft pallet and undergoing the first of eighteen surgeries at six minutes old, the tiny blonde child endured so much ridicule from her peers she never spoke. Not to her pleading, tearful parents whose heart ached for their baby, or to her dotting grandparents, desperate for her to be happy. It’s not that she couldn’t speak, she flat out refused to. It was difficult to form the words; she struggled to make the phonetic sounds without having to contort her face and mouth in unusual patterns. To avoid speaking she hid herself in her room reading about the one thing that set her heart and imagination soring with excitement and passion. Horses. Becky devoured every book available, reading and rereading her favorites. Her books and her imagination was the one place she could escape where no one looked at her and waited for her to speak. No classmates poked fun. This was the place she was free of prying eyes.
Desperate to break Becky from her self-imposed exile her grandparents pooled their money together and bought thirteen year old Becky a horse. She came out of her room and into the world of living breathing creatures who communicate mostly with body language. Becky found her unwillingness to speak didn’t matter to her new friend, because they could read each other without saying a word.
The years passed by, as they do for all children. More surgeries came. Seventeen more to be exact, all performed by the local Charleston plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Hagerty and supported by the Shriners Foundation. Dr. Haggerty was instrumental in not just repairing Becky’s cleft palate, but in her speech therapy as well. She recalls reading from a simple children’s book out loud to the doctor, then he would leave her alone in the small waiting room with instructions to keep reading out loud to herself. She would soon become bored with that and would twirl and sing along to the music that was playing softly in the background. Alone, with no one to scrutinize her, Becky fully enjoyed her acapella time in the waiting room. Becky had no idea that the wise doctor was fully aware of her habits once he would leave the room. Becky was a little song bird! Singing soon became a big part of her speech therapy.
Becky graduated and became an ICU nurse. She never stopped loving horses and soon quit nursing to train full time. She worked as an assistant trainer with Debby Holden of Winn Dandy Arabians facility in Alabama, where she helped develop Arabian horses into local and national champions. Her state and national achievements with horses are in the hundreds. Becky even used singing to calm the young nervous horses in the show ring, singing “Jesus Loves Me” softly to them.
Becky, a self-proclaimed tom-boy, had never considered herself a beauty pageant type. Her working career consisted of boots, dirt, and thousand pound animals. Her only glamour time was when she was in the horse show ring. This Ms. South Carolina pageant was just a whim entry. Becky stumbled across the website one evening while at home on Edisto Beach. The quick registration online was soon forgotten about until she received a phone call about a month later. Becky would be in the Ms. Senior South Carolina Pageant. She knew immediately her focus would be anti-bulling. Representing the Shriners Hospital and adopting their #Cutthebull anti-bullying program, Becky hopes to bring to light the struggle of all children who are bullied, but especially those who are dealing with a birth defect or medical issue.
Becky will head off to New Jersey on October 18th to compete in the Ms. Senior America pageant. The pageant twill run October 20th -22nd and will be televised on cable, so make sure to check your local listings. In addition to her speech on bullying, Becky will be singing for her talent as well as gracing the evening gown competition. Edisto Beach and the State of South Carolina couldn’t have a finer example of grace, intelligence, perseverance, and bravery standing on that stage and representing us all. Good luck Becky Rose!