PROSPERITY — Matalyn Mills, 17, will take the stage June 26 as Miss Travelers Rest Teen to vie for the title of Miss South Carolina Teen, which is a part of the Miss America system.
Mills said she has logged over 240 volunteer hours and made more than 50 personal appearances since earning her title on Nov. 22, 2014, but what she is most proud of is the work she has done with her platform, Bearing the Burden, supporting cancer patients with uninsured needs.
Over the past six months Mills adopted a nursing center for Christmas where she collected enough gifts to present all 53 residents with a Christmas gift, donated several items to the commons area and presented the nurses with a few items of appreciation.
She held a Wrap it in Paper drive for Manna House of Newberry asking for donations of food items that come in paper such as sugar, grits and corn bread. She also worked at the Bons Secour Wellness Arena in Greenville on the weekends to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, a Miss America Organizations platform.
“You go in a couple of hours in advance and inventory everything in the booth. You make hot dogs, heat pretzels, make sure the coolers are stocked, put out condiments and on and on,” Mills said. “Then when the window rolls up, the fun begins.”
Her local executive director is Mallory Pitts, a close friend.
The Miss America Organization created the platform area for contestants in 1989. Each Miss and Teen Miss must have an issue, or create a podium to promote during their reign.
Mills’ platform is in honor of her grandmother, Sylvia White, who is battling lung cancer, and her Nana, Diane Morris, who is a cancer survivor.
Mills and her mother, Adriane Morris, and her mother DeeDee held a cook-out May 16 to raise monies for her platform, Bearing the Burden.
“My goal is to help cancer patients and make their days brighter by donating funds or items that they will need as a cancer patient. The funds will be small but every penny counts when you are in need,” Mills said.
When her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, Mills said the family found there was no support financially and because her grandmother was no longer able to work, purchasing items that were a necessity became difficult.
Donations are being sought and T-shirts are being sold to help fund her platform.
“I have been visiting doctor’s office in hopes of their support and I hope to reach out to the Chapin community also,” she said. “I need to get the word out and start getting funds in so that I am able to reach out to those in need.”
Ideas for another pageant/fun day are already in the works for the fall.
Mills and 63 other teen contestants will begin their journey June 20 with a visit to the Statehouse and a day of awards from the Duke of Edinburg program. On June 22 preliminary competition begins for both Miss and Teen Miss Contestant’s in interview. Competition and finals will be held June 26 for Teens and June 27 for the Miss contestants.
“It’s not always been easy giving up time with my family and friends, but I know now what the real world is like. I would love to be Miss South Carolina Teen, but if not I will always cherish this experience and the friends I have made along the way,” Mills said.
Mills is a rising senior at Mid-Carolina High School where she is active in chorus, the FCA and has been chosen as a leadership leader for the 2015 Farm Bureau Youth Leadership conference this summer. She lives in Prosperity with her mother, Christy Mills, and has two older sisters, Meredith and Martina. Her father is Mark Mills of California.
Her grandparents are Charles and Sylvia White of Prosperity and Cindy and Eddie Mills of Newberry. Her great-grandmother is Gaynell Richardson also of Newberry. She is a dance instructor at Griffin School of Dance and a baptized member of New Spring Church.
To find out more about Bearing the Burden, join the page on Facebook page.