Miss North Carolina Pageant
One contestant feels extremely lucky to compete in the pageant. Just a few months ago Brooke McLaurin,
Miss Erwin-Harnett County
, did not know if she would walk, let alone sing and dance.
"I cannot put it into words. I'm absolutely blessed," she said.
McLaurin spent the last four months recovering from major surgery. In March, she started getting dizzy during her performance in "Annie Get Your Gun."
"I was sporadically vomiting, and I didn't know why," she said.
McLaurin went for tests and never came back home. The 22-year-old had a brain tumor removed the very next day. Before surgery, she was told she would have to relearn how to walk and talk.
"I was upset, but knew at the same time I had to have a positive attitude to overcome the situation and to be able to succeed," she said.
Her tumor was benign and McLaurin did not experience the side effects doctors had feared. Doctors told her she could have died within days had the tumor not been diagnosed.
When she won the Miss Erwin-Harnett County pageant, McLaurin set her sights on the Miss North Carolina crown. McLaurin said her experience has given her a new outlook on life and a new determination to win.
"Everybody is lucky in their own way, but to be able to fulfill this dream I've had my entire life, to be able to walk and talk to you today and share my story with everybody, it's just amazing," McLaurin said.
After her experience, McLaurin changed her platform from domestic violence awareness to coping with traumatic illness.
A new Miss North Carolina will be crowned June 21.
The pageant is trying to rebuild its reputation and focus on the positive. Some of this year's contestants said they were asked not to comment on last year's
Last year's winner, Rebekah Revels, said she was forced to give up the crown after her former fiance threatened to expose topless pictures of her. First runner-up Misty Clymer took over, then a judge said neither woman should be recognized as Miss North Carolina while Revels pursues the case in court.