A Charm-ing pageant
Alachua County Charmettes Inc. sponsor benefit breakfast, crown Miss Charm Teen
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:53 p.m.
Four teen girls dressed in white formal gowns and pearls and escorted by young men in black tuxedos wowed the crowd at the biennual "Breakfast for Madame" benefit sponsored by the Alachua County Charmettes Inc.
The girls were contestants in the Miss Charm Teen pageant held Saturday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center and attended by more than 250 family members and supporters. The Alachua County Charmettes Inc. is a social and community service organization that raises funds for cancer research at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and provides scholarships to local high school seniors.
Annette Kleckley, president of the Charmettes, was very pleased with the turnout. "This place is filled to capacity," she said.
The Miss Charm Teen contestants and their escorts were Alexis Kiara Benjamin and escort Malik Moore, Li'Fenity Monisha Dismuke and escort Joseph K. Welcome, Jordan Taylor McNeill and escort Julian McNeill and Kirsten Denise Thrift and escort Tyler Banks.
Jordan was crowned the 2013 Miss Charm Teen by Dayo Nunn, the 2011 Charm Teen. The first runner-up was Li'Fenity, with Kirsten named second runner-up and Alexis named third runner-up.
"My goal is to help people," said Jordan, adding that by participating in Miss Charm Teen, she felt she was able to help people by raising funds for cancer research and scholarships for high school seniors.
"I'm so proud of Jordan," said her grandmother, Hyser Woodham. "I know she will continue to do very well in the future."
The girls were each presented with a trophy, a certificate of participation, and a check for a percentage of the funds raised by them and their sponsors. Their escorts also received certificates of appreciation.
Sarah Richardson, chairwoman of the event, said the girls know from the beginning that the winner will be the girl that raises the most funds. Richardson said before expenses, the event raised more than $30,000 between ticket sales and money raised by the Charm teens, their families and sponsors.
"This is an extraordinary group," Richardson said, "and very enthusiastic."
Richardson said that in the four months leading up to the event, the girls participated in a host of activities, such as an etiquette workshop, a picnic with friends and family, a University of Florida women's basketball game, the Kevin Anderson adaptation of "The Nutcracker Ballet" at Gainesville High School, and other activities.
Ora White, a former Charmettes president, presided over the breakfast, which began with a melodic prelude by Gainesville musician Michelle Lamb on keyboard.
Entertainment was provided by Jadyn Chiari, a third-grader at St. Patrick Interparish School, and the Color Guard from the Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy.
Albert White, historian, community activist and president of the Lincoln High School Alumni Association, introduced the Charm teens and their escorts. "These are the ladies of the future," White said. "They have so much going on at this early age."
The Charm Teens and their escorts also shared their talents. Joseph Welcome sang "I Believe I Can Fly," Jordan McNeill recited a Bible verse from Matthew 7:14, which was an introduction to the poem she recited, which was "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. Alexis Benjamin sang "I'm the World's Greatest," Li'Fenity Dismuke sang "The Climb" from a "Hannah Montana" movie soundtrack, and Malik Moore sang "The Man in the Mirror."
"The Charmettes always want to give back to the community," said Kleckley, who also offered the occasion and welcoming remarks. "We give funds for scholarships and for cancer research."