A Crown with a Purpose

by Angela Harper

Usually when people think of pageant queens, images of tiaras, flowers, expensive gowns, obsessive mothers, and world peace come to mind. This, however, is not always the case; especially when it comes to Courtney Spells! She entered UNC-Greensboro’s Miss Black and Gold pageant for fun, as most girls do. As the director of the pageant, I quickly saw a diamond in the rough.

Beneath her tomboyish ways lay a remarkable young woman with a dynamic singing voice. Her platform statement about a philanthropy project of her choice was 1 of the 11 that the judges’ panel had to read and judge. Aside from the platform statement, she was judged on an interview, talent, swimwear, evening gown, and on stage question. At the end of the night Courtney was crowned Miss Black and Gold.

Hailing from Suffolk, Virginia by way of Springfield Massachusetts, Courtney’s ongoing philanthropy project is to promote the awareness and benefits of organ and tissue donation. Her mother worked for LifeNet, an organ and tissue donation company, and she would accompany her to work during the summers. Courtney’s interest in organ and tissue donation grew and she became a volunteer with LifeNet.

She had no idea that one day her family would be able to benefit from an organ donation. Courtney’s grandfather was in dire need of a kidney transplant and was able to receive a new kidney. Because he received a new kidney the Spells family was able to have 8 extra years with him. This was the moment that Courtney gained a stronger passion for organ and tissue donation. This is also the reason she chose organ and tissue donation as her platform during the pageant.

As the reigning Miss Black and Gold and a volunteer with LifeNet Courtney goes into different communities and sets up information tables providing people with pamphlets and answering any questions that they may have in regards to organ and tissue donation. The subject of donating organs and tissues is not one that is often discussed, but through her works she hopes to change this.

She has worked diligently on her philanthropy project and has educated many about the benefits of being an organ donor. The young men of the Pi Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (the sponsors of UNC-Greensboro’s Miss Black and Gold pageant) have also been instrumental in helping Courtney spread awareness. Together they have raised awareness on UNC-Greensboro’s campus and throughout the community.

Courtney has followed in the footsteps of previous Miss Black and Gold queens and has served her community with dignity and genuine concern. May 2009, Courtney graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Family Studies and Sociology.  She plans to attend graduate school for Counseling and then to pursue my doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy in order to become a Couple and Family Therapist. She continues to work with LifeNet and encourages everyone to become an organ and tissue donor; you never know whose life you may save!

*Request to have a heart placed on your driver’s license, register on-line at the on-line donor registry for North Carolina at www.donatelifenc.org and/or complete a paper enrollment form.

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