Faith Academy’s Natalie Roach crowed IJM
Faith Academy sophomore Natalie Roach received multiple individual awards and was crowned 2017 International Junior Miss Texas Teen at the Texas State Pageant, held Feb. 24-26 in Richardson.
Though her accomplishment of winning one of the top five pageants in the nation is impressive, it is rivaled by the odds she had to overcome to get there.
Natalie suffered a stroke in utero and was born blind and paralyzed on her left side. As a result, she spent many years in a variety of therapies and even underwent a complicated surgery that was able to restore her eyesight.
At 15 months old, Natalie was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Since her left side was so much weaker than her right side, she struggled with balance issues that prevented her from participating in activities like sports, dance, tumbling, and cheer. This caused her to become a target of bullies.
When Natalie turned 13, she grew tired of all of the bullying and decided that she wanted to try competing in pageants. She found a coach who used bilateral integration to help her learn to walk better through teaching her left and ride sides to work together more efficiently.
Her first pageant was a community service pageant for a women’s shelter that required little walking. Even though she did not win, she was hooked and kept on competing and improving at each competition.
After six months, Natalie had made such great strides that she began receiving requests to enter Miss Texas Outstanding Teen, Teen USA, and many other pageants. In 2014, she entered International Junior Miss and won the title of 2014 Texas Junior Teen and went to her first International pageant in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she came in 10th place, competing with girls all around the world.
Natalie tried a few other pageants, but took a break to focus on her studies. However, this past year, not only did Natalie enroll at Faith Academy in order to get a better education in a safer environment, free from the stresses of bullying, and to also grow in her walk with Christ, but she also decided that she wanted to go back “home” to International Junior Miss.
Natalie trained for the International Junior Miss pageant for eight months, and her diligence and hard work paid off. Not only did Natalie capture the International Junior Miss Texas Teen 2017 crown, but she also won IJM Texas Cover Girl, Spirit Award, Teen Talent, Senior Division Photogenic, Highest Combined Score of Casual Wear Modeling and Photogenic, America’s Junior Miss, Best Personality, Best Formal Gown, Best Styling (Wardrobe), and Senior Division Just Stunning, which comes with a Neal Hamil modeling scholarship.
Natalie’s service portion of her new title began last weekend when she assisted with the Mighty Dog Walk in Austin and worked to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. Natalie will advance to the IJM Internationals in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Gaylord Opryland on July 3-8.
“The moment my name was called for the IJM Texas Teen Crown was a moment of joy, laughter, and tears,” Roach said. “I was so grateful, so humbled, and in a state of shock! More than anything, I had asked God to give me grace, allow me to perform to the best of my ability, to lead me down the path He had planned for me, and to allow me to glorify him no matter the results.
“I believe that he will use my title to make a difference, and it will be my honor to serve others, be a cheerful giver, and give thanks in the best and worst of times. I was beyond proud to stand for God, for Faith Academy, and am thrilled to represent Texas at the IJM International Pageant!”