A tale of perseverance

Published 1:41 pm Saturday, July 19, 2008

After 13 years of participation, Keeley Patterson was named Miss Peach Queen of Chilton County.

Patterson started her pageant days when she was a mere 5 years old. She placed in the top 10 of her age, and the hook was set.

“I really loved being around new people, and being up on stage was a thrill. Every year it was better and better,” she said.

Patterson is the daughter of J.D. and Tammy Vines and Terry Patterson. She has a younger brother named Jesse Spear and an older sister named Haley Watley. Patterson will graduate from Thorsby High School this year and has already been attending classes at Wallace Community College in Clanton. Last year during the Peach Pageant, she placed at first alternate, winning a $1000 scholarship, which has paid for all of her classes so far. Patterson wants to go to Samford University where she hopes to study broadcast journalism or nurse anesthetics.

Patterson tried out for the Peach Pageant every year from 1996 until 2008. 12 out of those 13 years, she was in the top 10 or an alternate to the queen. This year, though, she was ready to make a change. Before ever getting ready for the first practice, she decided this would be her last year to participate in the pageant.

“I really loved being on stage and the friends that you get to make through practicing with the girls and stuff, but after trying 13 times already, I knew that if I didn’t make it this time that somebody was trying to tell me something,” she said.

When she ordered her bathing suit for the competition this year, the first one sent to her was the wrong size, which made things a little rushed for Patterson right before the pageant. To have the problem fixed, Patterson and her mother had a special swimsuit made to match her dress.

“The swimwear has to be a certain style and everything, so instead of just ordering it again and chancing it coming back wrong, we went and had a special swimsuit made. We decided at that point that we would just go ahead and have the swimsuit match my dress, so we got the orange and pink put together instead of a solid,” she added.

The efforts paid off when she first won swimwear and then was announced as queen at this year’s Peach Pageant. Patterson said she couldn’t believe she had won, and the truth didn’t really set in until the next day or two.

“That night I was so exhausted from all of the getting ready that I think I couldn’t process any more information. The next morning, though, I asked my mom if I could have a nerve pill because I was still shaking from the night before,” she said. “I was just so nervous and excited. Then, the very next day we had to make our first appearance, and things have not really slowed down since.”

Patterson said she is proud to be Chilton County’s Miss Peach Queen and is going to put all her efforts into representing the county well.