January 27, 2012

Miss America's Secret Heartache

The newest Miss America has revealed that seeing her father jailed for 18 months as she graduated from high school was the focus for her beauty pageant campaign.
Laura Kaeppeler, 23, from Kenosha, Wisconsin, said she wanted children with incarcerated parents to feel less alone as part of her platform in the competition.
The brunette, who won the Miss America crown and $50,000 scholarship on Saturday night in Las Vegas, said there were more than 2 million children in the U.S. with a parent in jail.
Her father, Jeff Kaeppeler, said he served 18 months in federal prison for mail fraud as his daughter was graduating from high school and going on to college.
Laura said: 'There are many of you out there - and I was one of them - but it doesn't have to define you.
'What happened with my father is not what my year is going to be focused on.
'It's going to be focused on looking forward and moving to the future because that's what my family has done and that's what I'll encourage others to do as well.'

Mr Kaeppeler added: 'She let that drive her and inspire her this past year to get ready for this. We've seen a miracle.'
As the new Miss America, Miss Kaeppeler will spend the next year touring the country speaking to different groups and raising money for the Children's Miracle Network.
She said she planned to use the scholarship money to pursue a law degree and become a family attorney who specialises in helping children of incarcerated adults.
'I really feel like I've been called to work in this,' she said.
'Whether I became Miss America or not, this is something that I would pursue in my career no matter what.'
Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska won Miss America last year at age 17 to become the pageant's youngest winner ever.
The Miss America Organization touts itself as the world's largest giver of scholarships to women, with about $350,000 to be given this year at the national level.

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