For a 23 year-old country girl from the University of Kentucky to go through the harsh demands of an American beauty pageant, there has to be an inspiration stemming from something more profound than a desire for world peace, a sash, and a shiny crown. Last month, on July 12th, Ramsey Carpenter was crowned Miss Kentucky 2014 — a title she’s been competing for annually since she won Miss My Old Kentucky Home in 2010. Unfortunately, this was the same year she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
While most would view the diagnosis as a drawback, Carpenter managed to draw a sense of purpose from the disease — making it her platform for pushing towards Miss America 2015 in order to spread awareness, call for support, and inspire. In fact, before she was crowned Miss Kentucky, she became a spokesperson for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and has been integral in several fundraising projects under the organization’s Kentucky-Southeast Indiana Chapter.
This week, she embarks on her journey towards winning the Miss America title, which airs nationwide on Sunday, September 14th at 9 p.m. Her work as an MS spokesperson resumes immediately after the big night, as she is scheduled to speak at this year’s largest MS conference — MSBoston 2014. The event is expecting over 8,000 attendees.
In 2010, her MS symptoms began subtly, starting with tingling in her hands and legs during her finals week visiting the UK. When August came, she found she could not play the fiddle, and began to have difficulty walking. Carpenter was 19 when she received her diagnosis, and has since then kept her symptoms at bay through regular injections. She believes the disease made her grow significantly as a person, and gave her a sense of peace about who she is and what she is meant to do. The judges saw this calm, natural charm about her and thought her deserving of the title.
Carpenter is ecstatic about her recent victory, but takes her public presence as a role model quite seriously. While the knowledge of her progressively debilitating disease tends to loom in the back of her mind, and she is, of course, feeling the pressure from having to compete with 52 other brilliant contestants, she is decided on staying positive. “I think about here and now,” she said. “Right now is really good.”