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By Erin Smith

The residents of the Bladen East Health and Rehab got a very special visit on Thursday afternoon when Miss North Carolina Victoria Huggins visited them. The residents were treated to an afternoon filled with music and laughter as Huggins displayed her musical talent and warm personality.

“I am thankful for my Mom Dad. They taught me that if I was going to achieve my dreams I was going to have to work hard,” said Huggins.

Huggins, who calls St. Pauls home, sang renditions of Almost Like Being in Love, At Last and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. She also sang hymns with the group including Amazing Grace and residents joined Huggins on the chorus to It Is Well With My Soul.

Huggins’ platform as Miss North Carolina is the The Alzheimers Project: Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness. She said her great-grandmother was in an assisted living facility and she would often go to visit her and would sing for her great-grandmother and friends.

“I would go to visit her with my Mom and Dad and she would say, ‘Victoria, sing for me.’ So I would,” said Huggins.

Huggins said her great-grandmother’s roommate suffered from Alzheimers Disease. She said from the age of 6 years old, she sang for all of the residents who were great-grandmother’s friends.

“The thing that blessed my heart was, I love music so much, but when I would sing, the Alzheimers patient—- some of them wouldn’t be able to remember their loved ones or some of the things that were special to them in their life—they would hear songs like Amazing Grace or At Last  or Natural Woman or a song that may have been special to them. It would bring the memory in a way that was not medically possible yet,” said Huggins.

She said it was that experience that has motivated her to advocate for music therapy for Alzheimers patients. Huggins said their is legislation that is now in the NC Senate to fund music therapy for Alzheimers patients in all North Carolina assisted living facilities.

She also shared her story of perseverance in competing for the title of Miss North Carolina. Huggins said she competed for the title five times. Each time, Huggins said, she got stronger. In her last year of eligibility to compete, Huggins was named Miss North Carolina on June 24th, 2017.

“All dreams are attainable if you work hard,” said Huggins.