Medical Crises Nearly Ended Bid for Miss America Title

Post a Comment » Written on February 13th, 2008     
Filed under: News
GRAND FORKS, ND (February 13, 2008) – On the day of the talent competition during the Miss America pageant last month, Miss North Dakota Ashley Young lost her voice. Not a good thing when you are planning to sing “The Laughing Song” from the opera Die Fledermaus.

Young, who is a member of Hope Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Forks, turned to other Christian young women at the pageant for help. “They were like sisters and just came around me and laid hands on me,” Young says. “I could feel the pain go away from my throat as they prayed for me.”

YoungNot only was she able to perform that night, “It was the best I ever sang it,” Young says.

Losing her voice was the second health scare that threatened her participation in the pageant. Last November, Young was living in a Hollywood home with the other contestants for the filming of a reality show when the 19-year-old suffered a “minor stroke.”

Young says she started to compliment another of the women, but “the words were not lining up right in my head.” The seriousness of the situation became apparent when she struggled to put two words together. “I had to concentrate so hard,” she adds. Miss Illinois, Ashley Hatfield, who is a speech pathologist, told Young she needed to get to a hospital quickly.

Young was treated at Cedar-Sinai Hospital. The stroke occurred when a blood clot, which had formed around a stray filament tissue connected to a heart valve, broke away and traveled to her brain. The clot quickly dissolved itself, Young says, adding, “It was definitely a frightening two or three hours.” She has suffered no effects from the stroke, but now takes aspirin every day.

Young thanks God the stroke didn’t happen at another time, such as during the long drives between appearances in North Dakota. “I would have been out there all by myself.”

The incident was a test of her character and how she would respond to a crisis, Young says. The other women obviously were impressed by more than just that one incident. They voted her Miss Congeniality.

The women cast their votes just as the pageant begins, with the award announced at the conclusion of the event. “I doubled over and just started crying,” Young says. “They know you for months. They really know who you are. It was such an honor.”

It capped an evening in which another Covenanter, Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund, was named Miss America. The two women had talked by phone before living together in the house, where they quickly became close friends.

Haglund was thrilled when she heard Young was honored.  “She deserved it more than anyone I know. She is a very selfless person. She was constantly asking about others and if she could pray for them.”

To read an earlier story on Young, see Miss North Dakota. Watch tomorrow for an inside look at Haglund’s whirlwind life as the new Miss America.

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