In a span of a couple weeks, 11-year-old Teirnan Love went from participating in her first pageant to organizing a trip to compete in a national pageant.
The Union Springs sixth-grader wore a tiara and an apron Sunday during a benefit to help raise the $5,000 she needs to go to Orlando to compete in the 2014 Miss Teen USA Pageant. Teirnan's family organized a spaghetti dinner Sunday afternoon at St. Francis of Assisi Church to collect money to fund her trip to Florida, including hotel and airfare for Teirnan and her older sister, Kyler, who plans to accompany her. Besides the donations for the pasta meal, people could pay for 50/50 raffle tickets and prize baskets.
In mid-October, Teirnan won first place in her age category for the 2014 Miss Pre-Teen Syracuse/Binghamton Pageant.
Teirnan's parents, Johnnie and Theresa Love, knew she wanted to participate in a pageant, but Theresa Love wasn't sure if that's what she wanted for her daughter, with so many shows portraying pageants in a negative light. However, after the National Pageant Competition sent a letter to the Love family about the October contest in Manlius, the Loves decided to give Teirnan a chance at competing, even though they didn't tell her at first.
“It was kind of a surprise to me,” Teirnan said of meeting with the pageant organizers for an interview. “My parents didn't tell me where we were going.”
Though she didn't have time to prepare, she made an impression on the judges, who invited her to join the pageant, one of 86 accepted of the 585 who tried out for the contest.
Her first-place win qualified her to move on to the Miss Teen USA competition in December in Florida.
“I was nervous at first but then I felt like I was meant to be there,” she said of her first pageant.
Theresa Love said the experience exceeded their expectations.
“It was great. She did really well. I was hoping she would make it to the top 10,” Love said.
During the pageant, all the girls who made the top 10 in their age group awaited the awards ceremony on stage. As the organizers began to give out the trophies for each place, the Loves were waiting anxiously to see where Teirnan placed.
“They didn't call her name, and then they still didn't call her name,” Theresa said, as they worked their way to first place. “It was emotion, emotion, emotion.”
And then the organizers finally called her name for first place in her age group.
She wasn't sure what to expect, but Teirnan always wanted to participate in a competition after she learned her cousin had participated. During her experience, she was able to make new connections.
“I like that I get to meet a lot of new friends. Some were from my area,” she said, adding that some may travel to Orlando for the next level.
Besides her new-found interest in pageants, Teirnan likes attending AJ Smith Elementary School, studying math and playing softball and basketball.