12/04/11 — Friends collect funds for Miss N.C. charity

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Friends collect funds for Miss N.C. charity

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 4, 2011 1:50 AM

Real friends know the importance of helping each other.

Whitney Grantham, an aspiring elementary school teacher in her second year at Wayne Community College, has known Hailey Best, reigning Miss North Carolina, since they met as young girls.

"My mom sang in a show at the old Paramount," Whitney said. "Hailey was like a pre-show performer. We were like 6 or 7."

The two struck up a fast friendship, then lost touch except for the occasional chorus event when they would cross paths.

Stagestruck would later reconnect them, along with Kaitlyn Stafford.

Their support for one another has been ongoing, even when college and jobs, or a Miss North Carolina crown, took them in different directions.

As Miss North Carolina, one of Miss Best's roles is to bring in funds for Children's Miracle Network, a national platform of the Miss America organization.

Miss Best set a goal to raise $20,000 by the time she goes to the Miss America pageant in January. She has already collected more than $10,000.

"Whichever state titleholder gets the most money to Miss America for Children's Miracle Network gets a scholarship," Miss Grantham said. "She's been really worried she wasn't going to get that much."

So Kaitlyn and Whitney decided to do their part to aid their friend. In this case, calling upon Wayne County people for support.

"We decided that the quickest and easiest way would be to send out letters to friends and families, asking for donations," Miss Grantham said. "We figured if we asked for a minimum of $10, most people could do that.

"We did that and got a wonderful response. Most people did more than ($10)."

The effort brought in $1,500, which the friends presented to Hailey during a recent Stagestruck performance of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

Kaitlyn, who coordinated the fundraiser, and Whitney called Hailey up on stage and presented her with the gift.

"It was a complete surprise," Miss Grantham said. "We sent (the letters) out in September, gave them a deadline to send the money in, in October."

Their support doesn't end there.

Miss Stafford and Miss Grantham plan to fly to Las Vegas next month and be in the audience when the Miss America crown is placed on the head of the new queen, which they hope will be Hailey.