The stories of Miss Hilton Head Island Maegan Garner and Miss HHI – USA Amanda Woods are as different as their respective pageants. Garner was involved in an automobile accident with a motorcyclist — who unfortunately succumbed to his injuries — and is now on a mission to raise helmet safety awareness. Wood, the product of a rough childhood — in which both parents spent time in jail — is on a mission to reach out to at-risk kids. Garner’s pageant, Miss Hilton Head Island, is part of the Miss America system, while Woods’ pageant, Miss HHI – USA, is part of the Trump-owned Miss USA/Universe system. We sat down with both of these beauties to get the tale of the tape.
CROWNED: Jan. 28
PLATFORM: Motorcycle Helmet Safety
What is your platform exactly? How did you get involved and in what ways are you involved?
My platform is, "Smart Rider," - Advocating Helmet Safety and Head Trauma Awareness. This is something I created after personally experiencing a life changing event. I was involved in an accident with a motorcyclist who unfortunately was not wearing a helmet and succumbed to his injuries. After witnessing and being involved in such a tragic event, I had to dig deep to find a purpose and reason behind such an event. I struggled for a while with depression and constantly asking, "why?" I now know that everything we go through in life has its purpose and I truly believe it is my purpose to educate others on the importance and the lasting affects and implications that not wearing a helmet can leave behind. There are fallouts that affect so many including other drivers on the roadways, to financial hardships including insurance premiums, and most importantly the loved ones that are left behind when death occurs because of the CHOICE that is made to NOT wear a helmet. People truly don't think about such an issue until they are forced with it. I was in fact one of those people that felt that we all have choices until I was forced to see the implications personally. A helmet is a necessity and not an accessory. Head trauma is crippling and can be fatal. I love adventure as much as the next person, but do it responsibly and consider others. You sky-dive with a parachute, you wear life jacket when swimming in deep waters, doesn’t it make sense to wear protective head gear when riding a two wheel motorized cycle that can travel up to extensive speeds? If the helmet law requiring that helmets be worn is not passed, my hope is that a class will be required to obtain a motorcycle license. You are required to take drivers education for a standard drivers license, you should be taught how to handle a motorcycle and the importance of the helmet would be emphasized. Today there is a class, “Ride Smart,” that is offered thru local community colleges but it is only recommended by the DMV.
My involvement with this spans from speaking at local churches, school, civic organizations to working with legislators on this issue. I promote bike helmet safety in our schools. It is my hope that teaching children to always wear their helmet and by taking the, "Smart Rider Pledge," wearing a helmet will become second nature and they will recognize the importance of protecting the head as it is a necessity to live and function.
What is the Miss Hilton Head pageant like? Tell us about your experience.
From the moment I was crowned Miss Hilton Head Island on January 28, 2012 it has been an amazing experience. I am the first Miss Hilton Head Island in 16 years and only the second Miss Hilton Head to make Top 10 at Miss South Carolina. I have loved every minute of representing such a wonderful part of our state. I have had the opportunity to promote my platform, attend The Heritage, been a special guest at the Harbor to tour the yachts, rode in one of the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parades, enjoyed sponsorships with local shops, photo shoots and have met tons of dynamic people as I have ventured into the local schools and civic organizations to speak on many various topics.
How long have you been in pageants? Has this been a lifelong thing for you or did you get into this more recently?
I am not your typical lifelong pageant girl. My very first pageant was my sophomore year of high school. I decided to start competing in the Miss America Organization for the scholarship money to help pay for school. Since then, I have grown so much has a person and have won thousands in scholarship money as well as being granted opportunities of a lifetime. So many people have this stereotypical image of a pageant girl and that image could not be more wrong. All of the girls who are a part of the Miss America Organization are some of the smartest, most talented, kind, driven, and successful women I have ever met.
CROWNED: June 26
PLATFORM: Helping at-risk children
Can you tell us a little bit more about your platform? What drew you to champion that particular issue?
My platform is very close to my heart. It is something that I have lived and breathed. I at one time was an at risk child, I grew up with both of my parents incarcerated. I had always wished that there was someone I could relate to and someone that understood me. I feel that it is my duty to share my story in hopes of inspiring other children. It is important for me to tell them that no matter what they go through in life that they can be successful. I am a living example of someone that has overcome obstacles despite the circumstances.
How did you get involved with the Miss USA pageant? What was the competition like in which you were named Miss Hilton Head Island?
I initially got involved in this pageant because I came across an ad looking for women to participate in the Miss South Carolina USA pageant. I sent in my information which included an application and my comp card. To be quite honest, I did not expect to hear back as my pageant resume was rather bare. However, within a couple of days a representative from RPM productions called me and they were really interested in me. I went through the interview process in which I explained why I would be a good representative for the State of South Carolina. Eventually I was chosen to represent Hilton Head Island. I immediately realized the opportunities that this pageant would give me on a National level along with bringing light to my platform that I am so passionate about.
What is your history with the pageant circuit?
I say that I am not a pageant girl because it is not something that I was bred in. I have always watched and admired pageant girls because they are the epitome of perfection. I, on the other hand, never looked at myself like that because of my nontraditional background. So as result, pageants were not something that I saw on my horizon. However, after receiving this amazing honor I realized that I would have an opportunity to impact the lives of children that are going through similar situations that I once endured. I am blessed to be apart of this pageant, but my purpose in life is to be an example to others of what is possible if they believe in themselves. I have carried this platform well before my pageant days and plan to carry it throughout my life. I have hopes to open up an organization where children can go to talk to others and receive guidance and to ultimately steer them into the right direction of making their dreams come true despite their circumstances.