Batson Children’s Hospital benefits from Miss Mississippi pageant

Published 6:00 am Saturday, June 23, 2018

Tonight, the new Miss Mississippi will be crowned and then Monday she will begin one of the most important parts of the job when she makes the first of her monthly visits to Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson.

“Miss Mississippi is part of the family at Batson Children’s Hospital,” said child life specialist Tiffany Key. “She starts her reign by visiting with patients, and she returns throughout the year to help celebrate birthdays and holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Christmas. Miss Mississippi winners always bring so much joy and memorable moments to our patients. They truly are beautiful inside and out.”

The Children’s Miracle Network is the national platform of the Miss America Organization and as part of that platform, the Miss Mississippi organization raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network and each year the reigning title holder visits children at the Jackson hospital.

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“I was very emotional after because you laugh, you smile, but yet you cry, because they just truly have given me a whole different perspective on life this year,” Miss Mississippi 2017 Anne Elizabeth Buys said of her first visit to Batson. “Our health is everything and we are so blessed when we have our health. That first visit was just so eye opening. I will never forget it. It was truly a special time. I will never forget the children and the impact they had on me.”

Buys traveled more than 26,000 miles throughout the state of Mississippi during her yearlong reign visiting civic clubs, schools and more, but each month she found time to make a trip to Jackson to visit with the children at the hospital. It is a role the new Miss Mississippi will continue Monday when she makes her first public appearance at 10 a.m. at the hospital.

“There was a monthly Batson’s birthday party I went to attend, but I would also go to the Christmas party, Halloween party, Valentine’s Day and different occasions like that,” Buys said. “We would go and there would be crafts, there would be snacks, music, games and just a good way for them to just have fun and just be a kid.”

Of all her visits to the hospital, Buys said it was a moment during the Valentine’s Day party that stood out the most.

“Near the end of it, there was nothing but karaoke and there was this one little girl who absolutely loved Frozen,” Buys said. “Holy Brand, Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen 2017, and I sat down with her and sang ‘Let it Go’ three times through with the karaoke machine and she just stole the show. It was so adorable.”

Strong support for Children’s Hospital

The Miss Mississippi Organization has expanded its support of Batson Children’s Hospital by hosting an underwear drive during each night of the pageant. Children from the hospital also joined the contestants and their princesses in the parade Monday and during each preliminary two children have joined Buys on stage to wish the contestants good luck.

“The job of Miss Mississippi is the job of a servant. It is making a different in people’s lives, it is bringing hope to people and letting them know they have a purpose,” Buys said. “When these children are in a tough situation like that facing life threatening illnesses, they just need to feel a sense of normalcy, know that they are loved and that they do have a purpose beyond being in the walls of a hospital. Being Miss Mississippi, I have been able to do just that, encourage them and just let them have fun.”

As part of the pageant’s relationship with the Children’s Miracle Network, contestants in the Miss Mississippi and Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen Pageants also raise money for the miracle network.

“The great thing about when we raise money for Children’s Miracle Network is the money stays local,” Buys said. “This has gone to further research, it has gone to help medical supplies and improve the situation and environments in the hospitals. It is just incredible that the contestants each year raise so much money.”