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Representing from Waimea

<p>Lauren Hickey poses with mom, Darlene Turner, at the Kona Airport before leaving for Washington D.C. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DARLENE TURNER FOR NHN)</p>

Lauren Hickey poses with mom, Darlene Turner, at the Kona Airport before leaving for Washington D.C. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DARLENE TURNER FOR NHN)

<p>Hickey visits the capitol in Washington D.C. before her July 7 competition. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DARLENE TURNER FOR NHN)</p>

Hickey visits the capitol in Washington D.C. before her July 7 competition. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DARLENE TURNER FOR NHN)

<p>Lauren Hickey visits the Kamehameha statue in Washington D.C. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DARLENE TURNER FOR NHN)</p>

Lauren Hickey visits the Kamehameha statue in Washington D.C. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DARLENE TURNER FOR NHN)

Big Island girl Lauren Hickey is on her way to the big city. Winner of the Miss Hawaii United States 2013 crown, Hickey is in Washington D.C. this week to compete in the Miss United States pageant.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Hickey said, who competed in the Feb. 23 pageant in Honolulu. “It was the most unbelievable feeling … to actually, 100 percent, literally have a dream come true.”

Hickey said she was at work one day when a woman walked into her office and said she should be Miss America. Laughing it off and thanking the woman modestly, Hickey later began wondering why she hadn’t pursued this particular dream of hers.

“My mom instilled in me the belief that I can do anything I set my mind to,” she said. “I knew there were three main national pageants; Miss America, Miss USA and Miss United States. It was such a Goldilocks moment. I didn’t fit the right requirements for Miss America, I missed the cutoff for Miss USA and Miss United States was just right.”

The pageant requirements for the “Miss” division: the contestant must be a female, 20-29 years of age, a natural born U.S. citizen, single and never married, and she must never have given birth. She must never have posted nude in film or print media.

In addition to the Miss competition, there three other categories; Miss Teen for ages 16-19, Miss Junior Teen for ages 13-15 and the Ms. Division, ages 26-55, single, widowed or divorced, and having children is OK.

In the Hawaii pageant, a new category was added; Miss Hawaii Princess United States for those with disabilities and a dream to become a queen. Hickey said she was so touched when she watched Chevelle Benitez get crowned in February.

“If I win Miss United States, said Hickey, “I have the opportunity to travel and work with non-profits and charities. Specifically we work with the American Cancer Society, but for me, it’s Relay for Life and Make a Wish Foundation that are close to my heart.”

Hickey’s mother, Darlene Turner, said the journey of helping her daughter through the pageant preparations has been an amazing experience.

“This has given a lot of children and teens on the Big Island someone to look up to,” said Turner. “She’s from the Big Island and wearing a crown. When she spoke at the Hualalai Academy fundraiser, the kids were hanging onto every word she said. They took photos and put it on Instagram right away, saying ‘You are our inspiration!’”

Graduating from Parker School in 2004, Hickey said attending Parker helped give her the courage to enter the competition.

“It was truly a blessing to attend a school where one’s individuality is celebrated, supported and encouraged,” said Hickey.

Turner said her life has changed drastically. Sudden health issues cropped up, she lost a job, and lives in her ohana instead of her house. But that didn’t deter her from helping her daughter’s dream come true. She said that once they decided to go for it, amazing miracles began to happen.

Calling her mother “momager,” Hickey said it has definitely been a learning experience growing up with a single mom.

“She and I have gone through so many things, including financial ups and downs,” Hickey said. “But we always work together and our end game is that we come out on top.”

While in Washington D.C., Hickey said they will meet all the Hawaii representatives, march in the Capitol Hill parade, attend rehearsals and the final competition is held on July 7. Hickey added that whether one comes in first or last, each contestant is still a “state representative, representing in the state and community.”

“I went to go support my middle school, and just talking to the young ones, they were looking up to me as a princess, and thinking ‘This could be me,’” said Hickey. “The older ones were looking at me, thinking, ‘This girl went to college, this girl is smart and dresses well.’ I’m an example.”

When asked if being beautiful “opens more doors,” Hickey answered that doors may open, but people will lose respect if beauty is only skin deep.

“One must have a keen sense of self as well as have self integrity,” said Hickey. “Beauty is fleeting and you have to be true to yourself, your family and true to those who look up to you.”

The Miss United States pageant will be televised and webcast. For more information: missunitedstates.com or on Facebook, Lauren Hickey.