Vermilion County 'so proud of' Oakwood's Foster, who reaches semis of Miss America

Vermilion County 'so proud of' Oakwood's Foster, who reaches semis of Miss America

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Abby Foster may not have been crowned Miss America 2018 on Sunday night, but Vermilion County residents said they were thrilled to see the Danville resident and 2015 Oakwood High School graduate make it to the semifinals of the 97th annual event.

“We’re just so proud of her, and we’re so happy she got this amazing experience,” said Morgan Wright, the 2017 Vermilion County Fair queen and a close friend.

“There are millions of girls who dream of being where she’s at,” added Terry French, who helped Foster prepare to compete in the Miss Illinois competition in June. “She’s made everyone proud, our whole community.”

Miss North Dakoka, Cara Mund, was crowned Miss America. Miss New Jersey, Kaitlyn Schoeffel, was named second runner-up. 

Wright and Foster first met as girls when they danced together at Laurel’s School of Dance, then became close friends when they both competed in the Vermilion County Fair queen pageant in 2015 — the year Foster won. French met Foster when he emceed the pageant two years ago, and he co-hosted her send-off party to Atlantic City.

Both held viewing parties at their homes Sunday.

Early into the live broadcast, Wright said she and her guests — including Kimber Cruz, the reigning Vermilion County Little Miss — grew anxious as they watched host Chris Harrison announce the 14 semifinalists, who were selected by preliminary judges. 

Their hearts sunk when Foster wasn’t among them.

But a short commercial break later, they stood up and screamed when Foster was announced as the America's Choice contestant, chosen by voters during an online campaign leading up to the competition.

“I know she had a lot of widespread support,” Wright said, pointing to Ball State University and the Indianapolis Colts organization. Foster is a rookie cheerleader for the NFL team.

“I’m sure a lot of her support came from her hometown,” Wright continued. “I know a lot of people who said, ‘I don’t know anything about pageants, but I know Abby. She’s from my hometown, and I want to support her and see her succeed.’ 

“I just think it shows how our community can come together and support one of our own and someone who we believe in.”

French, who helped Foster prepare for her interview in the Miss Illinois competition, said he was disappointed Foster was eliminated in the next round and didn’t have an opportunity to showcase her talent or public speaking skills.

“She’s such a very polished, well-spoken young lady,” French said. “At the same time, she made it this far. And she was the People’s Choice, so she was picked by us, by America. And I know she has a great future ahead of her, whatever she does.”

Sections (2):News, Local