An interview with Middletown's Amanda Debus -- Miss Delaware.
Amanda Debus grew up in Middletown just like any other typical small town girl. She attended Appoquinimink School District schools, participated in community events and always found a way to give back. On June 11, Debus really put her town on the map after becoming the first Middletown woman to be crowned Miss Delaware in the Miss America Organization.
“I was very excited and super happy to represent Middletown as Miss Delaware traveling the entire state and hopefully I can be in Middletown for a large majority of the time because this is the community that raised me,” Debus said.
The 23-year-old was born in Newark, but her parents moved to the Lakeside Community in Middletown in 2001 to make sure Debus got a good education. She attended Silver Lake Elementary School, Everett Meredith Middle School and graduated from Middletown High School in 2010.
Debus said that she enjoys working with children, particularly those with disabilities. She wants to become a teacher and is currently studying health and physical education at the University of Delaware. After graduation she wants to get a master’s degree to further specialize in helping children.
“I have experience working with kids with disabilities as a teacher’s assistant. I love working with them and if I could do that for the rest of my life, I will,” Debus said.
As Miss Delaware, Debus will be an advocate of allergy awareness. In 2010, she was at a summer barbeque and ate a piece of canned pineapple that sent her to the emergency room.
“All of a sudden my throat started closing up. I had eaten pineapple every other year before that time,” Debus recalled. “My throat also got scratchy – all the typical symptoms of anaphylaxis. I couldn’t breathe and luckily my neighbor was a nurse and knew exactly what it was and I was rushed to the emergency room.”
Doctors told Debus that the allergy reaction could have been from the pineapple or the preservative or pesticide used to grow pineapple, but they didn’t want to test her again because of the potentially-deadly reaction she had suffered.
Since that incident, Debus said that she has worked with the governor’s office to enact the emergency epinephrine law in schools. She is hopeful that the law can be extended to other public spaces such as restaurants and daycares.
“I want epinephrine injections to be on hand. There are so many kids and so many people that don’t know they have an allergy until it happens that that’s when it’s life threatening,” she said.
(SUBHED) The Miss America Pageant
Next month, Debus will be heading to Florida for an orientation that will prepare her for the Miss America Pageant in September. She feels that she has a great shot at becoming Miss America, but that that’s not what the pageant is only about.
“It’s a scholarship competition,” she explained.
And indeed, every pageant participant receives scholarship money no matter if they place or not. Debus received a $10,000 scholarship for winning the state competition. Other contestants also received anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 in scholarship money for their studies.
This will be Debus’ second time at the Miss America pageant. Six years ago she won Miss Teen Delaware and had a chance to perform a dance at that year’s pageant.
Debus went on to compete for the Miss Delaware pageant since 2012. In 2014, she was second runner-up to Miss Delaware and last year, she was third runner-up. When asked why she thought she won the crown this year, Debus said that she approached the pageant differently.
“Because this was my last year competing, I wanted to go in thinking that I was competing in the Miss America stage. I didn’t want to have any regrets and apparently that worked,” Debus said.
Debus’ mother, Mary Debus, said that she and her husband, Joseph, are really proud of their daughter’s determination and persistence.
“We were beyond speechless. I mean, this has been a goal of hers since she was 11 years old and to see her each year trying throughout her teen years. She has never given up and she’s always kept going,” Mary Debus said. “We are beyond proud of the young lade she’s turned out to be. She is very driven and has always had a goal in mind.”
The Debus family said that since Amanda won the pageant they’ve been “inundated” with calls and emails from people that know her or saw her grew up.
“It’s just been incredible. We’ve received so much love from this community,” Mary Debus said.
Last year, another woman from Middletown, Renee Bull, won a different state beauty pageant – the Miss Delaware USA competition.