LEESVILLE – Brookelynn Legans, 10, sighed, as she looked at the many pageant dresses hanging in her bedroom closet and the various pageant crowns that adorn her nightstand. They are a constant reminder of a dream that she's had for a while now.
Many young girls have similar dreams, but she didn’t want people thinking she was just another pretty face. She had always been a giver, in fact, when she was just 9 she had gathered enough toys for every child at the Hope House in Alexandria and donated them to them. “It makes me happy to give to people,” said Brookelynn.
She gently ran her hands over each colorful dress in her closet and touched them softly. The family didn’t have enough money to buy each dress retail, but each and every one was lovingly redone and hand-sewn with that special touch from her grandmother, Dana McPherson, 47, whom Brookelynn refers to as nana.
“ I like sparkle so I add it to the dresses when I can.” said Dana smiling.
Each dress is a reminder of one special little girl's hope.
On January 12 those dreams were almost shattered when Brookelynn’s pageant money, and practically the only money the family had, $820, was stolen out of the family’s car less than 24 hours before their departure to the 2016 World's Universal Beauty Scholarship Competition in San Marcos, Texas.
Their little silver car was parked in their yard in Leesville, where Brookelynn had lived all her life, when the money was taken.
According to McPherson the neighborhood in which they live is less than ideal with not much security and they normally keep their doors locked, but had forgotten to this one time.
“We had hurriedly gotten Brookelynn’s allergy medication from out of the car and forgot to lock the door.” she said, holding back tears.
"When I went to look for the money it was gone.” Brookelynn’s heart was shattered. All the hard work she and “Nana” had put into this, all the hours and hours of fund-raising and all the prior pageants she had won just to get to
this point she felt was wasted.
“I was mad.” she frowned at the memory. “It was like all the hard work we had done and the money we had already spent was for nothing.”
In a state of panic McPherson turned to social media and the community for help. “I didn’t know what else to do,” she said. “ So I prayed, posted on Facebook and got a gofundme account.”
They were unprepared for the overwhelming response and in less than 10 hours they had gotten the money back they had lost and then some. The community had pulled together and given them more than they could’ve hoped for.
Among those who helped was local business Pro Oil Exchange and countless other members of the community.
“It was overwhelming,” Dana said, giving Brookelynn a hug. “We are very grateful to God and all of the people who helped us.”
Brookelynn’s smile was infectious as she recalled the tremendous support the community gave and the dream they allowed her to pursue. “It was really nice of everyone to do that,” Brookelynn smiled.
Brookelynn placed fourth, but she is grateful to the community for their help and doesn’t think of it as a loss. “We have a saying in the pageant world,” said Brookelynn. “'It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.'”
That's a saying that Brookelynn says she lives by daily. Brookelynn and
Dana would like to thank the community and numerous people who helped them. The help and support the community gave was about more than just winning, it was about gaining hope and the focus to never give up on your dreams.