Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan has never been to Mississippi, and on her first visit to the state, her destination is Vicksburg.
The Alabama native who won the crown in Las Vegas in January while representing New York is coming to the city Saturday to raise money for the Vicksburg Child and Parent Center.
"The myriad appearances that I do as Miss America range from things like corporate appearances, that people just would like to have Miss America at their event, to our sponsors for the Miss America Organization to speak with some of the Miracle Network hospitals," she said.
"So any chance I get to speak on my platform and to be a part of an organization that is raising funds to help prevent child abuse, it's something that I will obviously jump on immediately.
"I'm very excited about coming to Vicksburg and seeing the great work that the CAP Center is doing here and to speak on an issue that has touched my family in a multitude of ways," said Hagan, who moved to New York after her first year of college at Auburn University.
Hagen said her mother, her aunt and several cousins were victims of sexual abuse.
"There was sexual violence that occurred in my family and there were a lot of facets occurring to multiple people through a multitude of generations," she said. "I was very lucky it didn't happen to me."
Hagan said the reason she chose child abuse as her platform was because she feels intervention is the answer to prevention.
"If we open up the conversation to our kids and the families in our communities, we are going to be able to prevent child abuse, or at least, at the very least, lessen the amount of kids that are walking through our child advocacy center doors every day."
Hagan recalled a program she attended at a New York elementary school that opened her eyes, even more.
"The Child Abuse Prevention Program reaches about 20,000 kids per year, and each year they put on two puppet shows, one about physical abuse and one dealing with sexual abuse," she said.
At the conclusion of the plays, Hagan said, the children were given the opportunity to stay, so they can speak with someone if they have a question or if they are unsure about something going on in their homes.
"When I saw the amount of kids that stayed behind I was baffled, and thought 'wow,' this is a way bigger problem than even I thought it was," she said.
Hagan, who plans to continue as an advocate for child sexual abuse, even after she turns over her crown in September, will spend Saturday in Vicksburg and will make guest appearances throughout the day.
"I'm very thankful to Miss Hagan and the Miss America Organization," said Erma Driver, executive director for the CAP Center. "Our main focus for Saturday is to spread the word that there is hope, survival ... available to families.
Saturday's events also will include performances by Miss Mississippi 2007 Kimberly Morgan, Love Notz, Ted Holman and Debra Franco Preparatory School of Dance.
If you go:
Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan is scheduled to be in Vicksburg Saturday to help raise funds for the Vicksburg Child and Parent Center.
— 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. — Breakfast with Miss America; Vicksburg Convention Center; $25