Briana Liles is known for her perseverance. The petite fourth-grader is quiet, but she is living proof that dynamite comes in small packages.
It was Liles’ third time to enter the Copperas Cove pageant before she finally captured the crown of Preteen Miss Coperas Cove Five Hills.
Moving up to the pre-teen division, she was required to speak on stage about her platform, Alopecia Awareness. For a young girl who is awkwardly shy, this was a tremendous challenge. But she was determined to conquer her fears, not for just herself, but for all of the children that suffer from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.
Liles was diagnosed with alopecia when she was in kindergarten and has suffered hair loss for more than five years.
“I dealt with a lot of bullying in the beginning because of the balding on the top of my head,” Liles said. “At first, it really bothered me. But now, I have learned to embrace the fact I don’t know if my hair loss will ever end and I try to educate others about the condition.”
Liles has spent her yearlong reign raising money for the Children’s Alopecia Project, a nonprofit organization that holds camps for children with alopecia to help build their confidence and self-esteem while educating families. Liles has raised more than $2,000 for CAP this year.
Some of the money raised came from Liles’ lemonade stand, Miss B’s Lemonade, which she opened during National Lemonade Day weekend. Liles designed her own stand and helped her dad build it. Her investors who helped purchase the supplies were her parents who she had to reimburse.
Working 12 hours a day both Saturday and Sunday and moving her stand to three different locations, Liles sold items from the menu she created that included not only lemonade but pulled pork sandwiches and lemon desserts.
“I made almost $1,000 at my stand, but after I paid back my investors $414 and saved some back for my stand next year, I was able to donate $300 to send kids with alopecia to camp,” Liles said.
Her hard work paid off. Liles was named the Fort Hood Area Lemonade Day Entrepreneur of the Year and went on to win National Lemonade Day Entrepreneur of the Year out of more than 80,000 children that participate in the program.
Liles has also danced competitively for two years, taking tap, jazz, ballet, clog, and lyrical lessons. She serves on her school’s student council volunteering for the United Way, Communities in Schools, the animal shelter and other organizations.
Through her pageant title, Liles has contributed more than 550 hours to helping others in her community.