Lion January 2013 : Page 6

IN THE SPOTLIGHT ONE OF US MARIE WICKS As Marie Wicks prepares to represent Mississippi in the Miss America Pageant on January 12, she has a lot on her mind. From practicing piano to keeping up on current events to perfecting her public speaking skills, Wicks is making the most of every minute. But this recent graduate of the University of Mississippi also has something else at the forefront of her thoughts: her mission as a Lion. What is EyeS.T.A.R.? Through my platform Eyesight to all Re-gions (EyeS.T.A.R.), I’m working to raise awareness on vision health. I give presen-tations to schools and civic groups, and I work closely with Lions clubs through eye-glass collection drives and free vision screenings. Why did you choose vision health as a platform issue? When I was 11-years-old I was diagnosed with severe nearsightedness. I remember putting on my first pair of glasses. The clar-ity of the world before me was astonishing. I decided to make it my mission to bring eyesight to those in need. How did you become a Lion? My grandfather was a Lion for more than 50 years and my father is a Lion. In high school I helped with the Lions Sea and Sun Camp for the blind and visually impaired, where I was introduced to true courage. The campers gave me something invisible to the eye—a gift of the heart—that in-spired me to continue service for sight for the rest of my life. Watch a video about Wicks becoming Miss Mississippi. How did you get involved with pageants? In high school I was very reserved, but I decided to compete in the Junior Miss pro-gram. I enjoyed the thrill of being on stage and the challenge of the competition. Over the five years that I competed for Miss Mississippi, I grew more comfortable with public speaking and performing; these skills have made an impact on every aspect of my life. The scholarship funds I received helped me achieve my undergraduate degrees, and now I plan to pursue a career in ophthalmology and global health policy. Can you share a pageant secret? Hand warmers are a perfect remedy for frozen fingers before playing the piano for the talent portion of the competition. What are some highlights from your time as Miss Mississippi? I’ve enjoyed visiting the Mississippi National Guard and spending time with patients at the Batson Children’s Hospi-tal. But some of my most rewarding expe-riences have been with Lions. I’ve visited clubs across the state, and I helped con-duct two vision screenings. Mississippi is rich with the spirit of Lionism. Know a Lion who you think deserves a bit of recognition? Email us a brief description of your Lion and the reason you’re nominating him or her at . Please include “One of Us” in the subject line. Marie Wicks, moments after being crowned Miss Mississippi. Photo by Susan Elderton 6 LION J A N U A RY 2 0 1 3

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