Garner community dynamo Faye Gardner never expected to be presented flowers on stage at Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium during the Miss North Carolina pageant.
She had helped dozens of girls with aspirations of being on stage and having their name called, but Gardner was never a pageant girl.
Yet, there she was on stage Friday night before a crowd that moments before had waved lighted canes and glow sticks, hoisted life size paper cut out faces of their favorites, yelled encouragement to their girls.
On a night filled with dancing, singing, gowns and modeling swimsuits while wearing high heels, Gardner represented the implied long-term objectives of the program.
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“She is an amazing woman,” said Garner’s Dana Stephenson Dixon, who was Miss North Carolina in 1998. “She is the role model.”
Gardner said it was a surprising honor.
“It made me feel very special,” Gardner said. “It was very nice. It is such an honor.”
A former bank executive with Wachovia and later Wells Fargo, Gardner is a community leader as illustrated by her work in raising funds and helping organize the effort to build the Garner Veterans Memorial.
She previously had been honored for her service to the community by winning the 2008 James R. Stevens Service to Garner Award and being named as The News & Observer’s Tar Heel of the week.
“She is an advocate of youth and the arts,” Dixon said.”She is well known in the business community. She exemplifies the four ideals of the program, the four points of the crown – style, success, service and scholarship.”
Dixon and her husband Wade donated $5,000 to the Miss North Carolina program’s Women of Impact scholarship program. Those funds will be distributed among the contestants in this year’s pageant.
“There are many women who provide incredible role models to our youth, but I know of none who do it better than Faye Gardner,” Dixon said. “This is honor is a way to tell them thank you in a very special way.”