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Pamplin's Courtney Garrett claims runner-up title for Miss Virginia - Times Virginian: News

Pamplin's Courtney Garrett claims runner-up title for Miss Virginia

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Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 12:00 am

Courtney Paige Garrett is not your typical farmer's daughter.

In fact, the 18-year-old beauty from Pamplin is more prone to makeup and glamour than gardens and pastureland.

Such has been the case for the last 15 years as Garrett has competed in the intense world of beauty pageantry.

And just a few weeks ago, she culminated a long climb to the top by capturing the runner-up title in the annual Miss Virginia Pageant.

Barely out of high school, Garrett was a nervous wreck as the finalists were whittled down to the final two.

"I was shaking really bad," she said with a wide grin. "And then one of the judges looked at me and (motioned) to calm down."

Garrett realizes that 18-year-old titlists are extremely rare in the state pageant world, so she was not disappointed at all.

Besides, she still carries the tiara as the reigning Miss Lynchburg, which carries a busy enough schedule.

"I hope to be able to do it again next year," she said of the Miss Virginia Pageant, which takes place in late June of each year at the Hotel Roanoke.

The daughter of Steve and Jeanine Garrett of Pamplin, Courtney Paige Garrett has a resume that would make any parent proud.

The 5-foot-5, 116-pound blonde graduated in 2010 in the top 10 in her class at Prince Edward County High School, where she carried a 4.2 Grade Point Average while attaining National Honor Society status. She was also active on the varsity volleyball, soccer and swim teams.

Her family lives on a farm near the outskirts of the Town of Pamplin, a stone's throw from the counties of Appomattox and Charlotte, and she has lived there her whole life.

Garrett also has attended Liberty Baptist Church in Appomattox since she was saved in 2004.

Now, she is a rising sophomore at Liberty University in Lynchburg, where she already sports a 3.5 GPA for the Dean's List and is well on her way to a double major in music for vocal performance and communications.

Yes, she's come a long way from the farm life on her grandparents' farm, where she loves to horseback ride.

Other hobbies include singing at her church, playing intramural volleyball at LU and scrapbooking.

And then there are the beauty pageants.

"I started when I was 3 years old, doing local pageants," Garrett said. "In fact, my first pageant was Tiny Miss Appomattox in 1996, and I kept going back to the same programs."

Then she heard about the teen and pre-teen pageant programs.

"In 2009, I won the Miss Virginia's Outstanding Teen in Roanoke on the same stage and weekend as the Miss Virginia Pageant," Garrett said.

And after capturing the Miss Lynchburg title last year, Garrett gained an automatic entry into the Miss Virginia Pageant, which took place June 19-25.

She then proceeded to wow the judges with her strong speaking skills, platform and strong appearance in evening gown and swimsuit competitions.

But if you ask Garrett, the most important thing is her platform, where she is inspired by CARE (Community and Respect for Everyone).

Garrett has two brothers: 9-year-old Ryan, and 14-year-old Austin.

Austin is autistic, has cerebral palsy and is mute.

Furthermore, Austin is the inspiration and motivation behind many of Courtney's accomplishments.

"He's awesome. He's the coolest guy ever and my best friend," Courtney Garrett said, beaming widely. "He is the reason I have communications as a major because he is mute."

Garrett spends a lot of time with Special Olympics, and she is pursuing all avenues to accept sign language as a foreign language at state schools.

"That would be a great incentive and opportunity for those who are impacted," she said.

Garrett is also campaigning to eliminate the word "retarded" through a program called Spread the Word to End the Word.

"It's about kids who have pledged not to say it anymore and how it has changed their lives," she said.

On the stage, Garrett also was strong vocally, performing an original arrangement of Somewhere over the Rainbow with a background orchestra.

She wore a blue halter during the evening gown competition, and a two-piece with four-inch-heeled shoes during the swimsuit competition.

She also excelled during the interview competition, during which she fielded 10 minutes worth of intense questioning from judges.

For Garrett, finishing runner-up marked the pinnacle of her pageant career.

It also prompted the opportunity to "pig out" after months of dieting and exercising.

"I went to T.G.I. Fridays and got some delicious chicken and bacon-and-cheese fries," Garrett said with a laugh.

During preparation for the pageant, she stuck to a strict regimen of high-protein, low-carb foods, plus lots of fruits and vegetables and water.

She also snacked on almonds, raisins, crackers, and juices.

Under the tutelage of Appomattox's Shana Canada, Garrett weight-trained three days a week and did cardio two days week. On the weekend, she rested.

"Shana kicked my butt," Garrett said.

As a Miss Virginia runner-up, Garrett has the option to compete in a Sweetheart Pageant in Hoboken, Ind., which would provide great experience.

"After that, I'll start looking at if I want to compete again for possible preliminaries," she said.

Indeed. The possibilities are endless for this small-town farm girl.