Lee Countians country superstar Luke Bryan, American Idol champ Phillip Phillips and all-star San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey have given the Southwest Georgia area a higher profile on the national stage, a tradition that may well continue next Sunday at the Miss America pageant.
Representing the Peach State in the pageant by which other pageants are measured is Carly Mathis of Lee County.
This may be a case where the fourth time is the charm.
Certainly Mathis has that, along with the poise and talent that propelled her to the Miss Georgia title earlier this summer in Columbus. Now, she has the opportunity to do something that has never happened in our region — bring the crown of Miss America back to Leesburg and Southwest Georgia.
It will be a tremendous challenge. The Miss America competition is as elite as pageants get. Mathis is going up against the best of the best. Just making it to the Miss America stage is a triumph.
But Mathis’ dream doesn’t stop there.
On her video, which shows her standing in the heart of Leesburg, Mathis notes that you “can’t find a more all-American town than Leesburg. I may be from a small town, but I have big dreams, just like those guys (Bryan, Phillips and Posey). And I never forget where I come from.”
And that is one of the aspects of Mathis, besides being the favorite daughter of the area, that makes it easy to cheer her on. Her platform is one that is literally close to the heart of her home region — care for children and heart health. In her own family, Mathis has lost a grandfather to heart disease and seen her grandmother suffer a heart attack. At one point, Mathis had to deal with high cholesterol.
“I’ve seen what it can do to a family and how it can influence people,” she said in an interview following her Miss Georgia win.
As for children, Mathis is not some stand-offish spokeswoman. Amanda Berry with the Children’s Miracle Network observed when Mathis visits children in the hospital, it’s not a case in which she sports a crown and waves for photo ops. “She gets down on the floor and spends time with them,” Berry said at a hometown salute to Mathis in July. “Her love for children is apparent.”
All-in-all, we think Mathis would make an excellent Miss America, one who reign would bring attention to the health of children and the importance of good heart health. And Southwest Georgians can help get her into the finals by voting online at missamerica.org. You can go directly to the voting page from albanyherald.com by clicking To watch Carly's video and vote for her as America's Choice, click clicking on this link or by going to the “Vote Carly Mathis as Miss America finalist” under editor’s picks on our homepage.
Mathis has had the drive and ability to chase one of the biggest dreams out there. Here’s hoping she catches it in Atlantic City.
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board