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CBA student chosen for bowl appearance

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 5, 2012 1:46 PM

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Tiffany Hill

PIKEVILLE - -When Tiffany Hill was crowned homecoming queen at Charles B. Aycock High School a few weeks ago, she had no idea it would propel her into other opportunities.

The varsity cheerleader at Charles B. Aycock High has been on the court all four years of high school -- a princess the first three years and now, as a senior, the queen.

Her coach, Rhonda Davis, received a letter about the "America's Homecoming Queen" program. By invitation only, girls from across the country compete for the state and national title, positioning them for potential scholarship money.

Holly Hill, Tiffany's mother, filled out all the necessary paperwork and sent it in. A week later, they were notified that Tiffany had been chosen to represent North Carolina at the 54th annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl Football Classic in Memphis, Tenn., which will be televised on ESPN New Year's Eve.

The Hill family also consists of dad, Doug, and brother, Brandon, 22, a recent graduate of East Carolina University. But mother and daughter are the only ones making the trip Dec. 29, returning Jan. 2.

"We're paying our own way, so we're the only ones going," Mrs. Hill explained, noting that it'll be a birthday gift of sorts since her birthday falls on Dec. 29. "It's just an opportunity of a lifetime for (Tiffany) to do this."

The three-day weekend is packed with activities, including a luncheon, the Liberty Bowl parade, pre-game events and half-time show during the game.

Pam Kinery, event coordinator, said "millions of girls" across the country were considered for the honor.

"It's a wonderful experience but it's an entertainment experience," she said. "I sent out right at 500 (letters) across the nation. Last year we had 130 (chosen). It's steadily coming in. Deadline is Dec. 20.

"It's a wonderful program for young ladies. They get to visit St. Jude's Hospital."

That is actually what Tiffany is looking forward to most, she says.

"I think I'm most excited about St. Jude's Hospital," she said. "And of course, going out onto the field, representing North Carolina."

In addition to being a cheerleader and homecoming queen, Tiffany is also involved in HOSA, the school's health occupation club, and during the summer is a hospital volunteer.

Her aspirations to become a nurse, with leanings toward working in oncology, began at 6 years old, when she had a health crisis of her own.

"I got lung cancer in my left lung. It was like ping pong balls," she said. "They said there were like probably about 20. The middle one was the malignant one."

She had surgery to remove the lung at UNC Children's Hospital. A few months later, she developed asthma, for which she continues to be treated. But the cancer is gone.

"This will be my 13th year cancer-free," she said.

So the upcoming visit to the renowned children's hospital holds special significance.

"It means a lot because I think it will make me go back to where I was during that time and be able to reflect on what happened and also relate to what's going on with them," she said. "I can tell them my story and what happened to me."

While in Tennessee, interviews will also be held to narrow down the field for the Homecoming Queen of America, where the winner and runners-up are then eligible for scholarship money.

"They pick who goes through, and (who) gets to go to California for nationals," she explained.