ANDERSON — What should be a special moment between mother and daughter for Miss Indiana A’Niyah Birdsong has turned into a challenging time.
Birdsong will travel to Tulsa next week to take part in the Miss USA pageant, but she will do so with a heavy heart.
As Miss Anderson she won the title of Miss Indiana at the Paramount Theatre in July.
Her mother, DeVeta Whigham, died in a car accident on Oct. 31.
“It’s devastating and I’m in shock about it,” Birdsong said last week. “She will definitely be with me in spirit.
“I have so many memories to cherish,” she added. “Everything I am as a person was instilled by her. Her spirit will live on in me and the experience.”
Birdsong said everything is on track for her to complete her pageant preparations.
“Mentally I have to tough it out,” she said of traveling to Tulsa without her mother. “It’s going to be a challenge. She was one of my biggest supporters.
“I have to be strong and fulfill my responsibility,” Birdsong continued. “Mom would have wanted me to do that.”
More than 30 people from the Anderson area will attend the pageant.
“So many people have reached out,” Birdsong said. “I have gotten a lot of support from Anderson. I want to make Anderson and Indiana proud.”
This Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Pressure Lounge 765, 1610 Arrow Ave., there will be a community sendoff and show of support for Birdsong.
“A’Niyah needs the community behind her right now,” organizer Tamie Dixon-Tatum said. “This young lady just lost her mother and yet she is determined to bring home the crown to Indiana.
“I’ve known A’Niyah all her life because her mother and I were good friends,” she continued. “The determination that A’Niyah has now, in the face of adversity, is the determination this beautiful young lady has always had.”
Financial support is being sought to help defray some of the pageant costs.
Contributions can be made at the sendoff event; at $niyah90210 cash app or at www.aniyahbirdsong.com/sponsorships.
The pageant is on Monday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. and will be televised on the FYI Network and livestreamed on Hulu.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.