TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - From living in an abusive household as a toddler, to becoming Miss. Texas’ Oustanding Teen 2019, Allie Graves, 17, is proving there is nothing that can stand in the way of her goals.
The Lone Star native is headed to Orlando for the Miss. America’s Outstanding Teen competition where she will represent her home state.
Showing off her new crown, Allie said, “the only difference really is some extra bling!”
Prior to winning Miss. Texas’ Outstanding Teen, Allie was the current Miss. Lone Star.
“What I decided was I’m going to go in as Allie Graves and that’s going to be enough and we’re just going to see what happens,” said Allie as she toured us through her family home in Texarkana. “A lot of people say it’s a whirlwind but I still feel like Allie Graves which is something that is really relieving to me.”
The city of Lone Star still holds a special place in the 17-year-old’s heart because it was the place she found her forever family.
“It was a very profound moment for me,” Allie said as she remembers being adopted by the Graves family at the age of five.
From the outside looking in, Allie is no different from her pageant competitors. But her story started with a life in and out of foster care and for several years in an abusive home.
“A lot of people said that I was a very happy child and that’s so ironic because I was being abused every single day,” said Allie.
Showing us her elementary school yearbook, she recalled her pre-k teacher noticing she wasn’t like the other students.
“She brought clothes every single day to change me into so that I would smell less bad and make life a little easier for her and the classroom,” said Allie. “She would put me back in these old clothes and send me home.”
Allie said she now uses that experience as an education opportunity for others.
“It’s easy to be aggravated at that person but at the same time she had no idea what to do,” said Allie.
She uses her story as a way to advocate for children who are living through similar situations. Graves said this prompted the creation of her foundation “What Love Can Do.”
“It’s been a blessing to be placed in this position because not every 17-year-old is placed in this position,” said Allie.
Following her Miss. Texas Outstanding Teen win, she plans to use her new platform to build on her character while reminding other they are not defined by their past.
“Being a teenager, so many times we feel the need to be like everybody else,” said Allie. “We almost envy a normal life. I had to step back and realize that be a part of this organization gives me so many more opportunities.”
This Friday, Allie heads to Orlando, Florida for Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition. If she wins, she will be crowned by the 2018 winner, London Hibbs of Tyler, Tx.
For more information on how you can get involved in What Love Can Do or how to become a child abuse advocate click here.