By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
October 21, 2004
Shannon Camper thought her pageant days were over when she was first runner-up to Miss Alabama June 12, her seventh and final attempt at the title.
Camper, who turned 25 Oct. 20, aged out of the scholarship pageant system that awarded her more than $28,000, which she used to obtain a degree in mass communications from the University of Alabama.
After the competition, held at Samford University, she moved on with her life and got a job as a leasing agent, focused attention on her ministry of singing gospel music and enjoyed church activities at Central Avenue Baptist in Gadsden, where her father, Larry, is minister of music and mother, Sarah, is a pianist.
Then Miss Alabama, Deidre Downs, was crowned Miss America 2005 in Atlantic City Sept. 18.
Downs is the third Alabama contestant to win the Miss America tiara, along with Yolande Betbeze in 1951 and Heather Whitestone in 1995. With Downs’ victory, the Miss Alabama first runner-up has the option of assuming the state title. In a phone call from the Miss Alabama organization, Camper sealed her name in the pageant history books when she accepted without hesitation.
“There were a lot of decisions to make right off the bat. I had to quit my job and move to Birmingham in the apartment provided for Miss Alabama,” Camper said. “I didn’t have time to think about anything. I was just so excited for Deidre and me!”
Camper said the title offers her the chance to speak about her platform, breast cancer awareness, and share what God has done in her life. “There is a history of breast cancer in my family and now I can help educate women,” she said.
“It is just so amazing to see how God has moved because after seven years this was something I put aside. I think of the song, ‘Wait on the Lord and Be of Good Service,’ and I am reminded that He is in control.”
Family friend and pastor of Arbor Baptist Church in Pell City Whitt Hibbs baptized Camper at age 7 when he served as pastor of Central Avenue.
Hibbs said all Southern Baptists in Alabama should be very proud. “She is one of our own, literally born and raised in the Southern Baptist church, and Shannon has a gleam is her eye and the Lord in her heart,” said Hibbs. “Her faith is real and she also has such an unbelievable talent in singing.”
Born into a musical family, Camper said she has been singing all of her life. “My mother sang when she was pregnant with me when my parents traveled in a southern gospel group. I also remember that she would prop me on the piano stool at the age of 2 and I would sing. It has been a big part of my life.”
Camper’s singing talent does not go unrecognized. She received the only standing ovation when she sang “God Bless America” during the talent competition at the Miss Alabama pageant and she has been working in a studio to record her own music.
“All I want to do is share my testimony and sing. I hope I can do it in churches around Alabama.”
For information on how to schedule Miss Alabama 2004, Shannon Camper, visit www.missalabama.com.
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