While many little girls dress up and imagine being a princess, one 7-year-old Harker Heights girl wasn’t content with pretend.

Paige Cardon would ask her grandmother and mother if she could try on the crowns they had both won in their younger years. Her mother and grandmother both held multiple titles, including capturing the crowns of Miss Teen Texas and Mrs. Texas, respectively.

Placing their sparkling tiaras on her head, she would immediately run to the mirror. Smiling from ear to ear, she envisioned that she would one day win a crown of her own.

Paige repeatedly asked her mom about entering pageants. The mall held a circuit pageant and her grandmother entered Paige. To prepare, Paige and her mother watched pageant shows on television and Paige received some pageant “training” from her mom on how to do a model’s T, graceful turns, where and how to position her hands, and to maintain eye contact with the judges. Most importantly, Paige learned that she had to smile her “real” smile.

On pageant day, Paige executed her training flawlessly on stage. At the announcement of the winners, Paige received second runner-up. She was elated.

Sixty days later came Paige’s second pageant where she again received second runner-up. Although she displayed excellent sportsmanship when she lost, this time she was not content with her placement. She really wanted to win the crown.

Fast-forward 30 days later when Paige entered the Junior Miss Rabbit Fest Pageant in Copperas Cove. Competing in the largest category in the contest, Paige did not place. But, she congratulated the winner and said she had fun. She was definitely learning to lose gracefully.

One month later, Paige had the opportunity to compete in the Buckholts Cotton Festival Pageant. While she was willing, her mother, Jennifer Cardon, was less enthusiastic.

“I am beginning to think that maybe pageants are not her thing. Maybe we should try something else,” she said. “I just hate to see her continue to be disappointed.”

Reminded by her mother that she lost many pageants herself before winning, Cardon agreed to let her daughter enter the contest.

“My parents reminded me that it was all for fun and if I didn’t win, that was fine. There is always another pageant to enter,” Paige said. “So, I just went out there and did my best.”

Evidently, Paige’s best performance was good enough, earning her the high score in her age division, and the highest score among all contestants ages 0 to 9 years. As the winners were announced and the crowns handed out, Paige continued to clap for the others. Then her name was announced, and her mouth fell open in disbelief.

“I can’t believe I won. I heard them calling everyone else’s name and I thought ‘Oh well, I had fun,’” Paige said. “But then they called my name and I couldn’t believe it. I finally got my crown.”

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