Leila S. Case: ‘There she is …’

Published 3:30 pm Monday, September 19, 2016

Americus and Sumter County is dressed for company and sporting a happy face as we offer our warmest welcome to the hundreds of visitors attending the annual MIA/POW gathering. Their schedule of events continues through tomorrow evening so let’s keep on smiling.
Meanwhile, we felt like we were in the audience watching the Miss America Pageant telecast from Atlantic City last Sunday instead of actually being in Boardwalk Hall like several others from Americus.
We were anxious about the outcome, having become familiar with two of the contestants with local connections: Miss New York Camille Sims and Miss District of Columbia Cierra Jackson. Since childhood they have frequently visited their grandparents, spending summer vacations and holidays.
The two did well in the competition but the pageant’s finale, crowning of the new Miss America, was the most exciting as Camille was among the top three finalists and named second runner-up to Miss America and awarded a hefty $20,000 scholarship. Cierra won the lifestyle and fitness award on the first night of pageant preliminaries.
Camille’s grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Sims said, “It was a once in a lifetime experience for Camille and for us as well as we watched her perform – she was brilliant. We are proud of her accomplishments.” And that was evident as television cameras picked up on the Sims family, capturing their joyful reaction, especially on the faces of Camille’s parents, Tommy Sims and Tracy Allen Sims.
Camille’s talent performance was a vocal rendition of “Sway” sung in English and Spanish. “She wants to go to graduate school but she’s receiving many offers so she hasn’t made a firm decision. I know she’ll make the right choice on what direction she’ll take because her previous decisions have always been right. Since childhood, she has been humble and strives to help others, which continues today.”
Members of the Sims family other than named above at the pageant were Sharon Simpson, Devin Terry, and Dette Sims.
Also attending were Mark and Crystal Waddell, directors of Miss Historic Southern Plains and Miss Presidential Pathways pageants, Everett Byrd, and Cierra’s grandparents Lawrence and Bertha Hosley of Americus and her parents, Gregory and Cheryl Freeman Jackson of Columbus.
Speaking of taking the right path on the journey of life is Americus’ own Stuart Perry, founder of the Perry Wellness Center, guest speaker at the Council of Safety Chapter, DAR meeting last Tuesday. The Perry Wellness Center provides hope to people with mental illness for a more productive life and with Stuart’s enthusiasm and guidance this is being accomplished in spades. The Perry Wellness Center is a tremendous success and recognized statewide for its program that grows daily in enrollment and activities.
Besides leading people toward more productive lives, Stuart and his team have beautified its Rees Park, Elm Avenue site with beautiful gardens and facilities that he plans to expand.
Elsewhere, John and Beth Carroll spent last weekend with their daughter Caroline Carroll, student at the University of Georgia, and member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, going especially for Tri-Delta Parents Weekend festivities that included a dinner dance and auction at The Classic Center, a fundraiser for the Tri-Delta Philanthropy at UGA, co-chaired by Caroline. The event helps fund UGA Miracle, UGA Heroes and UGA Relay for Life. After the parents-daughter brunch at the sorority house Saturday, they trekked “down the hill” to Sanford Stadium for the first game this season on home turf between UGA and Nicholls State. Caroline, also a member of UGA Red Hotz Competition dance team, is headed to Columbus this weekend to complete her duties as Miss Columbus 2016 and crown the 2017 Miss Columbus. Others from Americus at the Georgia game were Chris McMichael, Frank and Deanna Hudgins, Will and Mary Elizabeth Easterlin, Lee and Faith Pinnell, and children, Shaw and Samantha, who recently celebrated her 13th birthday. Incidentally, let’s welcome Americus Rase Hallett of York, Wales, and a former Rotary student at GSW, who is visiting the Pinnell family for a couple of weeks.  Elsewhere, Heather Stanley is attending Arts Market Midwest in Milwaukee this week; Dr. Alex Riccardi was in New York City last weekend; Gay Sheppard is recovering from hand surgery; Bardin and Hayden Hooks moved into their new home on Ga. Highway 49 North Tuesday, the former home of Lisa Easom and her husband, and previously the home of Dr. Schley and Ann Gatewood.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.