How many of you would spend eight years and eight separate attempts to accomplish your dream? Most of us would say we would but Taylor Fulford backed it up when she won the Miss Florida USA Pageant Sunday night in her eighth and final attempt.
After competing and trying the previous seven years which included three consecutive third runner up finishes, The Okeechobee native and OHS alum almost didn’t go back this year in the final year she was eligible.
Fulford admitted she was disappointed and a bit dejected after finishing third runner up last year but she credits prayer and a change of perspective as the reason she did go back.
Fulford beat out 76 other contestants to win the crown. She was even named most inspirational by her peers before she won the crown. There are many reasons “most inspirational” apply to Fulford. It could be because she never gave up after seven attempts, it could be the fact that she is a type one diabetic competing, it could be the several great initiatives that she promotes during her campaigns such as Crowns For A Cure which had raised nearly $30,000 for different causes such as juvenile diabetes awareness and breast cancer research. In reality, it was a combination of all the above that won her that title and developed her work ethic.
The three-day pageant began on Friday with an interview process. On Saturday, the nearly eighty contestants competed in a gown and swimwear competition after which the contestants were narrowed down to seventeen. Those seventeen competed on Sunday in the question and answer portion of the pageant.
Fulford says that local reaction has been incredible. She estimates that she received over 1,000 messages in the two days after winning the crown.
It has been quite an eventful year for Okeechobee natives. Last summer, Kutter Crawford made his Major League debut for the Boston Red Sox before winning a roster spot out of Spring Training this year. In April, Even Neal was drafted seventh overall pick by the New York Giants in the NFL draft.
The magnitude of the accomplishment is not lost on Fulford. She says she heard a statistic that says you are more likely to have a son play in the Super Bowl than a daughter compete in Miss USA.
The next step for Fulford is to compete in the Miss USA pageant. The date of the pageant has not been released. She will visit Cancun in a few weeks to meet the other 49 Miss USA contestants. Along with the pageant, Fulford will be traveling the state speaking at engagements while representing Florida. Listen to our full interview with 2022 Miss Florida USA winner Taylor Fulford below