Miss America 1995
Heather Whitestone's Bio
On September 17, 1994, Alabama's Heather Whitestone was selected as Miss America 1995. During her year of service as Miss America, Heather focused her efforts and activities on motivating our nation's citizens to achieve their dreams through dedication, commitment and hard work. As she delivered her message, "Anything is Possible," throughout her term, Heather sought to inspire individuals to achieve their goals through the S.T.A.R.S. program (a five-point approach for personal empowerment). As Miss America 1995, Heather traveled an average of 20,000 miles each month and spoke in a different city every other day. She has spoken to business corporations, non-profit organizations, churches, and government, including the FBI and CIA.
Heather Whitestone was the first woman with a disability to be crowned Miss America in the Pageant's 75 year history. Heather lost her hearing at the age of eighteen months when she was rushed to the hospital with a dangerously high fever, the cause of which was later diagnosed as the Haemophilus influenza virus. According to the doctors, she was only hours from death when they administered two powerful antibiotics that reduced her fever and saved her life. With the doctors assurances, Heather's relieved family took her home believing that their once energetic toddler would be back to normal within a few weeks. After a few months, it became painfully obvious that there was a problem when Heather's mother accidentally dropped a pile of pans on the kitchen floor and Heather, who was playing nearby, did not even flinch. At the Children's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, Heather tested as "profoundly deaf" with no hearing in either ear. Her condition was concluded to be the result of the virus, the antibiotics or a combination of both.
Heather believes that the biggest handicap in the world is negative thinking and that people handicap themselves by concentrating only on the negative instead of the positive. Heather was inspired by her family to work hard and never quit trying. Without an interpreter, she attended a public school until she was 12 years old and then enrolled in the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1991, Heather graduated from public high school in Birmingham, Alabama with a 3.6 grade point average. She continued to pursue her education with the $37,000 Miss America Scholarship she was awarded and finished college.
Heather's S.T.A.R.S. program (Success Through Action and Realization of your dreamS) was originally developed for her local school system. Heather's program has five points she believes are necessary for success: have a positive attitude, believe in your dream, be willing to work hard, face your obstacles and build your support team. Heather has used these methods as a plan for her own personal success. She now uses S.T.A.R.S. to motivate people of all ages to find their own paths to overcome their obstacles and achieve their goals. She believes that everyone has different talents, personalities and abilities and truly loves to see people reach for their "stars."
In Heather's first book entitled Listening With My Heart (Doubleday, 1997) she shared her life-changing wisdom with others, demonstrating that with strength and faith, anything is possible. Heather's second book, Believing The Promise, was released in the summer of 1999. Let God Surprise You, introduces readers to men and women whose extraordinary stories demonstrate how God can turn around any situation. Her most recent book, Heavenly Crowns discusses striving for a godly life in the midst of daily struggles.
John K. Niparko, M.D., surgically implanted Heather with a Nucleus 24 Contour cochlear implant at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. On September 19, 2002, when the device was turned on for the first time, Heather embarked on yet another journey, entering the world of sound.
Heather decided to get a cochlear implant because she wanted to hear her family's voices, make further strides in achieving her goals and experience the hearing world. With the implant, she plans to help raise awareness among the hearing-impaired community about the opportunities available for improving speech and language.
Heather returned to Johns Hopkins to be fitted with the external part of her cochlear implant, the ESPrit 3G ear-level speech processor, and have the device turned on for the first time. When her Nucleus 24 Contour cochlear implant was activated, Heather experienced overwhelming emotion as she realized she was hearing sounds more clearly than she had before.
Heather resides in Georgia with her husband, John McCallum, and their children.