County resident’s granddaughter places in Miss Missouri Outstanding Teen

Picture Above: Lauren Vanlandingham, furthest to the right, was crowned third-runner up at the Miss Missouri Outstanding Teen competition on June 16, 2017.

On June 16, Lauren Vanlandingham was crowned third-runner up at the Miss Missouri Outstanding Teen competition held in Mexico, Missouri. Lauren is the daughter of Chad and Jennifer Vanlandingham, and granddaughter of Becky and Linden Vanlandingham from Paris.

Miss Missouri Outstanding Teen is a part of the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organization, a scholarship program for girls between the ages of 13 and 17 years of age. According to the organization’s website, “The program has been organized to encourage success by helping nurture and build the scholastic achieving, healthy living, creative accomplishment, and community involvement of our nation’s youth.”

To compete at the Miss Missouri Outstanding Teen level, Lauren had to first compete in one of its preliminary pageants. This past October, Lauren competed in the Miss Heart of the Ozarks Outstanding Teen competition in Rolla, Missouri and won. This specific preliminary competition is new to the Miss America organization, so Lauren was the first to be crowned as such.

A unique element of the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organization is that each contestant must compete on a charitable platform. Lauren competed for A Million Letters, a charitable organization that she personally founded at the age of 13 and currently directs.

“The mission of A Million Letters is to deliver one million letters of hope and encouragement to individuals and their families confronted by the crisis of cancer,” said Lauren in the organization’s promotional video. “Words may seem insignificant, but they truly have value. A letter is something tangible that someone can hold onto during treatment.”

As of May, Lauren has talked to over 1,100 students and collected over 3,200 letters.

During her reign as Miss Heart of the Ozarks Outstanding Teen, she has also donated her time to other foundations including Youth Leadership St. Louis, Elevation STL, Children’s Miracle Network, and Friends of Kids with Cancer.

Lauren, speaking as Miss Heart of the Ozarks Outstanding Teen 2017, wrote, “I’m beyond excited to announce that I’ve placed 3rd runner up to Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen! I’m so proud to be a part of this amazing group of young women. Also, I am very grateful for all the advice, support, and donations that helped me achieve this dream!” via Facebook.

As third runner-up Lauren received a flower bouquet, $350 scholarship, and official Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen Charm. She was also announced as Top 3 for the Community Service award and Top 10 for the Miracle Maker award.

Disclosure: Article was written by Danielle Wheelan while working at the Monroe County Appeal.