Heather Whitestone

I noticed this website is has a broken link. It was an Alabama celebrities website. Luckily, I saved it in a word document!


Heather Whitestone
Miss America 1995, Birmingham

Born in Dothan, Alabama in April 1973, Heather Whitestone lost her hearing at 18 months of age. A reaction to a diphtheria-tetanus vaccine caused her to become deathly ill; her life was saved by two antibiotics, but the medicines caused nerve damage in her ears. Whitestone's parents struggled with their daughter's deafness, and after much discussion settled on an educational program for her. Acoupedics is an approach to deaf education that teaches deaf children to use their residual hearing to learn to speak. Whitestone's hearing was amplified with a hearing aid, and she was taught to read lips and to speak. The program helped Whitestone to live in the hearing world and go to public school.

At an early age Whitestone discovered a love of dance; dance used body language, not words, to express emotions. Dance was Whitestone's refuge; she joined the Dothan School of Dance to study ballet. By the age of eleven Whitestone was falling behind in school. She convinced her parents to send her to the Central Institute of the Deaf in St. Louis. There, Whitestone learned sign language, and met deaf children from all over the world. She returned to Dothan to attend Northview High. While in high school, Whitestone endured her parent's painful divorce. Her mother, Daphne Gray, took the children to live near the Gray family in Birmingham. After a year at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Whitestone finished her education at Berry High School (she had a 3.6 grade average).

After enrolling at Jacksonville Sate University, where they have a special program to streamline deaf students into regular classes, Whitestone began competing on the beauty pageant circuit. After winning the Shelby County Junior Miss pageant and the Miss Point Mallard contest, Whitestone competed in the Miss Alabama Pageant. After three appearances (she was first runner-up in 1992 and 1993), Whitestone finally took the crown in 1994. She went on that year to win the 1994 Miss America Pageant, dancing the ballet "Via Dolorosa" for an admiring crowd. When Whitestone was crowned, September 14, 1994, she became the first deaf Miss America; in fact, she was the first Miss America with a physical disability of any kind.

Controversy has surrounded Whitestone since her win. A debate has raged in the deaf community for years about proper education for deaf children. While Whitestone and her mother support acoupedics, others believe sign language is the best way for deaf people to communicate. Whitestone has come under fire for her beliefs, but continues to argue that speaking provides more opportunities to deaf people than signing alone. After her reign ended, Whitestone continued to travel promoting her STARS program (Success Through Action And Realization of your dreamS) and wrote her autobiography, Listening with My Heart. A devoted Christian and political conservative, Whitestone met her husband, John McCallum, when he was an aide to Newt Gingrich. Whitestone and McCallum were married in June of 1996, live in Atlanta, and continue to be politically active.

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