She had just started school, her junior year at North Platte High School. True to form, she was already juggling activities, academics, and bigger plans, using an open period one day to run home and mail paperwork to compete once again for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.
That day, August 23, 2017, something was wrong. She pulled up to the farm where her father had been working in the shop on the property.
Father and daughter tried to get inside, and were engulfed in black smoke at the front door. They called 911.. and watched fire devour the building their family had called home for more than 50 years.
Within 30 minutes, every physical possession Whitney Miller owned was gone.
“The one thing I always think about is that I’m glad it happened when it did, while no one was home,” said Whitney. “My young sister, Felicity, is 5. She was the most confused. We were all just struck with confusion. We had just lost everything, we lost home. Once the fire was out we had the whole family out there to talk about what the heck just happened and how we are going to move forward.”
Whitney Miller and her family chose hope.
They stayed in hotels, thanks to the help of local churches, who also provided toiletries, clothes, and food. Faith gave the Millers much more: a view of not only the mountain they had to climb, but the oasis beyond.
“There is a bright side to everything and even though it was hard to find this time, we are doing great and are forever grateful to everyone who helped us get back to normal,” said Whitney.
That message of hope and gratitude is what Whitney is now sharing with children from North Platte to Omaha, as Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen.
“One of my favorite parts of being a titleholder is being able to share my story with others that are trying to overcome adversity in their lives,” said Whitney. “My platform, Choose Hope, is centered around a step-by-step guide to help others overcome life’s struggles.”
Whitney also works to inspire self confidence in others, something she says she’s gained from her mother, (“She has always set such a good example for me”), from her time as Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen last year and now, a titleholder once again, working to vie for the state title.
“I decided to compete in the Miss Nebraska program because I admired the girls who competed,” said Whitney. “One of my favorite moments [was in Omaha] when I got to meet all the other contestants and learn about them. We as young teens should be uplifting and encouraging to each other rather than tearing one another down. One of my goals is to truly enjoy the time spent with the other contestants, and the experience itself.”
From Charles Dickens:
“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”
What was your one, memorable day? And how did you respond?
When Whitney Miller looks back at August 23, 2017, she focuses on the positive and the future. She remembers a day she chose hope.
“It’s something we will never forget,” said Whitney. “It made our family’s bond even stronger.”
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHITNEY?
For more information about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program or to become a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook, or CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Twitter. You can also contact Director Heather Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or Director Kali Tripp at KaliNicoleTV@gmail.com.
The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Competition takes place April 28 in North Omaha, Nebraska.