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October 23, 2014

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Heartbreak and joy as 2012 Miss America Pageant hopefuls arrive in L.V.

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Las Vegas schoolteacher and high school sports official Stan Jerlicki and his granddaughter Jackie Jerlicki in 2010.

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1974 Miss America Rebecca King Dreman and daughter 2012 Miss Colorado Diana Dreman.

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2012 Miss Colorado Diana Dreman.

Miss America Pageant

Miss America Pageant

Miss America Pageant

Miss America Pageant

Heart-rending emotions serve as the backdrop for Thursday’s arrival of the 53 contestants of the 91st annual Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood. Las Vegas schoolteacher Stan Jerlicki will be among the proudest grandparents sitting in on next week’s preliminary contests, and 1974 Miss America Rebecca King Dreman, who is battling cancer, hopes that she’ll be at the ABC telecast on Saturday, Jan. 14, to see if her daughter, Diana, will follow in Mom’s footsteps.

Former Mayor Oscar Goodman, now host committee chair of our Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and David Hoenemeyer, regional president of Bally’s, Paris and Planet Hollywood, will join with Las Vegas residents and Miss America board members Lynn Weidner, Gloria Fine and Sue Lowden for the official welcoming ceremony, which we’ll report via Twitter @robin_leach and then later with a photo gallery here.

The pageant hopefuls then start a week of preliminary competitions: judges interviews and three nights of preliminary pageants Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday focusing on talent, lifestyle and fitness, evening wear and swimsuits. The Miss America Organization is the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women and last year made available more than $45 million to 12,000 girls who competed in state and local competitions.

Blonde beauty Alana Lee of Clark County represents Nevada in the pageant. The 22-year-old Mojave High School graduate was in the Top 5 Female Students of the Year and made the dean’s list when she graduated last spring from Dixie State College magna cum laude with an associate degree. Alana, who won Miss Clark County before winning Miss Nevada, has “Patriotism: Rock the Vote” as her platform issue and will demonstrate her singing skills for talent. Her ambition is to become a national news TV anchor with a political talk show.

Alana said her family and friend farewells Tuesday night and today packs up her suitcase to move into Planet Hollywood to welcome her 52 rivals.

The public votes for one “America’s Choice” finalist in the Top 15 during the broadcast. Go to MissAmerica.org/videocontest, watch videos and vote. There’s a limit of 1 vote per person through midnight Thursday, Jan. 12. You also can check out all the contestants’ style and personality videos at Facebook.com/missamericaorganization.

When 23-year-old Diana Dreman arrives Thursday from Denver as Miss Colorado, she’ll discuss the heartbreaking story of her mother, 1974 Miss America Rebecca King Dreman. Both are hoping that Diana will fulfill their dream of becoming the first ever mother-daughter winners. Rebecca is battling stage 4 melanoma cancer and underwent 7 hours of surgery for tumors on her lower back that made her unable to walk.

Diana has been her caregiver and cancer advocate the past 18 months since the diagnosis of hematoma. She said that she decided to be a part of Miss America because she could promote the cancer platform. Her mom only wanted her daughter to graduate from college, but Diana graduated and then entered the Miss Colorado Pageant and won the title and crown in May.

“Winning was a we-did-it moment for all of us,” Diana said. Today, Diana, who has put her accounting job on hold, spends half her time caring for her mother who has been in a clinical trial for six months to shrink the tumors. Rebecca wants to be well enough to travel to Las Vegas and watch her daughter compete.

“This has already been an incredible journey,” Diana said. “It’s even more special to be able to share it with my mother -- she is my inspiration, my mentor and my rock.”

Two years ago, Las Vegas teacher, high school sports official and part-time MGM employee Stan Jerlicki was rooting for his granddaughter Jackie in the Miss Teen Indiana pageant. Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue and he joked that maybe it would take two years before she returned for the Miss America Pageant. Fast forward! Here we are in 2012, and this time Jackie will be here competing as Miss Indiana.

If she wins, she would be the second Miss Indiana to be crowned following in the footsteps of Katie Stam in 2009; Katie also will be here next week. Grandpa Stan is beaming and will be at all three preliminary pageants and the finals to cheer on his granddaughter.

Vegas DeLuxe will have daily photo coverage starting Thursday of all the Miss America events leading up to the final night and the crowning of the winner. We’ll also a video interview with 2012 Miss America posted after the pageant.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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