Brewer serving as Relay Queen with a purpose

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

2024 Miss Relay for Life Queen Gracie Brewer is using her new crown to not only promote the fight against cancer, but to honor her aunt at the same time. Brewer was crowned the new Miss Relay for Life Queen at the annual pageant on April 27, and did so with a heavy heart.

Brewer lost her aunt, Julia Baker, in 2018 of brain cancer. A 2003 Chilton County High School graduate, Baker suffered from bad headaches for a while before going to the doctor to seek treatment where she was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma after an MRI revealed a tennis ball-sized tumor.

“I specifically wanted to do Relay to show support for my aunt, and do it in honor and in memory of her,” Brewer said. “We were really close with my aunt, and I do not have a lot of memories with her because I was about 11 years old when she was diagnosed, but she was always a big part of our lives. I just wanted to do it in memory of her.”

Brewer’s speech during the pageant about why she was participating was centered around her aunt. She said she did not cry when she was practicing her speech that she spent hours perfecting, but at the pageant, she quickly broke down in tears when she got on stage. She also incorporated showing support for other individuals and friends in the Chilton County community that have been affected by cancer as a part of her reason for participating.

“It ended up good, and my score sheets at the end said it was good, but backstage I was a mess,” Brewer said.

This year was just Brewer’s second year doing pageants in an older age group, but she has experience doing pageants when she was younger as well. She said participating in the Peach Queen Pageant last year, and all the preparation and training that goes into that pageant, helped her immensely during this year’s Relay pageant.

The rising senior said that doing the pageant with her friends made her feel more comfortable on stage and it went by smoothly, until the time came when the winners and alternates were being named at the end.

“I had been practicing for it (a lot),” Brewer said. “I would do the dishes in my heels and walk around to make sure I would not fall when I got up there.”

All of the girls participating in the pageant received something, and as the alternates were being named, Brewer was left with one other girl without a sash. Then, first alternate Caysen Craig’s name was read aloud, and it set in for Brewer as her mouth dropped open, and her eyes darted to her mom in the audience.

“I had no thoughts, I was like ‘I am the Miss Queen,’ and I was so excited and started smiling so big,” Brewer said. “I did not think it was real, and I have done pageants before and not won one … I wanted them to hurry up and give me the crown so I knew it was real.”

The new Miss Relay for Life Queen and her five other queen sisters will now prepare for a year filled with sharing and promoting the fight against cancer. The queen’s annual visit to the American Cancer Society Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge in Birmingham to see cancer patients, serve them food and meet their families is at the top of Brewer’s list of events she is most looking forward to during her year-long reign.

Brewer’s family has a long history of supporting Relay for Life festivities in Chilton County, and she said she is proud to be the Miss Queen for an event her family has supported for many years. She remembers going to the big Relay for Life events in past years where dozens of people would come out with tents, chairs, grills and more and set up with a specific theme to raise awareness for the fight against cancer.

“I really want to bring it back to being that big again, and get support from other counties,” Brewer said. “I hope we can get more sponsorships and get Relay for Life back to how it was in the beginning. We want to bring it to the public eye that we do not have as much support as we used to, and are not funded as much, and I want people to come back to how we were.”

Brewer will be a senior at Chilton County High School the 2024-2025 school year, and she plays softball and volleyball for the Tigers.