Bishop Kenny teen uses title for greater good

Shannon Atkins’ desire to support the fight against breast cancer was manifested before she won her crown. It was the title, however – Miss Bishop Kenny 2014-2015 – that provided the platform to promote a cause that was too near for someone dear.

“My grandmother [Barbara Swindell] was diagnosed with breast cancer late summer 2013. She overcame her breast cancer and finished her radiation/chemotherapy right before Christmas of that year,” said Atkins, a San Marco resident. “During her treatment I saw firsthand how weak the drugs made her.”

Atkins also saw how detrimental this disease was to the rest of the family, but fortunately Swindell had the support system and the means to overcome her diagnosis. “Some women are not so fortunate,” she continued. “I knew that I wanted to help this cause and when I won Miss Bishop Kenny, it gave me the title and notoriety I needed to be able to do something like this.”

Choosing Donna

Atkins began her campaign for a cancer foundation by researching the organization she wanted to stand behind.

“After finding that Donna Deegan was a graduate from my high school, I felt my supporting 26.2 with Donna was meant to be,” she said.

Atkins learned how to set up a “Spirit Night” at three venues to raise money. To ensure that the events would be successful, she focused on establishments that her peer group already enjoyed.

“I asked friends to advertise the event on social media, put flyers on cars in our school parking lot, and be present at the events with me. Many of my friends gained service hours through their aid in my events,” Atkins noted.

Atkins ultimately raised more than $2,000 for The Donna Foundation and attributes some of the success to her title.

“I was very fortunate to win the title Miss Bishop Kenny and as a result I gained a lot of attention,” she mused. “But it all should be about more than wearing lovely dresses, stage appearances and crowns (although that part is really great). I wanted to leave something behind.”

The young woman, who plans to attend Georgia Southern University next fall, hopes that the next Miss Bishop Kenny will continue to use her notoriety and offer something more to the community.

“Actually it is my hope that I can inspire more young people to recognize their ability to make a difference in other people’s lives,” Atkins concluded. “That was the best part of being Miss Bishop Kenny.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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