By AMAC Member – Debbie Robbins
My name is Debbie Robbins, a proud AMAC member, native of Louisville, Kentucky, and I am honored to have been recently crowned as the 42nd Ms. Senior America for 2023. This crown represents “the world’s first and foremost pageant to give honor to women who have reached the ‘Age of Elegance’…with the belief that seniors are the foundation of America, and our most valuable treasure.” It is humbling to have been the one chosen among a field of incredible state title holders from across the country to represent the 109 million people in our country who are over the age of 50.
Sometimes I cannot believe that I am a senior, but what a blessing to be alive and well at this time in American history. Time flew over the decades where I basically grew up public speaking and performing hundreds of solo concerts for our military troops all over the world. Invitations from Army Chaplains to Germany, Japan, Korea and to posts in the continental United States, I went from being thought of as a soldier’s little sister, to a mom, and future hope, a grandma.
As a young performer, I was always surrounded by older people, and I loved their hearts and stories. There is nothing like the wisdom and lessons that come from seasoned older adults. I have always respected my elders and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to pursue the Ms. Senior America title.
Like AMAC, my heart is also “centered on American values, freedom of the individual, free speech, and exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, rule of law, and love of family… and supporting services that will enrich the lives of America’s seniors.” My most beloved mentor, the late Helene Royster, once told me that when you’ve reached the age of 50, you have certainly earned the right to speak! As Ms. Senior America 2023, there is not a shortage of issues where being silent is an option.
I have a message for seniors today. We should never define ourselves by our age. It’s my goal to be open to every opportunity throughout this next year that allows me to be an encourager and advocate for older adults. Now is the time to live our best lives. Seniors, you are priceless, have amazing gifts and talents, wisdom, experience, discipline, courage, and conviction to share. Winning this title proved to me again that one is never too old to go after dreams, to reach goals, to serve, to lead a healthy lifestyle and to develop meaningful relationships with others. I long for seniors to use the power of their “crowns of splendor” (aka gray hair) to pour wisdom into the younger generation.
Now more than ever, children, teens, and young adults need us older people to jump in the front seat with them for a while and show them how to live with a strong moral compass that will refine character, embrace a deep work ethic, demonstrate patriotism and respect for others, and to not be ashamed to express a deep faith in God to help one navigate this life. As a former competitor in the Miss America Scholarship Organization, I now enjoy teaching young women to become better communicators, embrace proper etiquette, and assist them in perfecting their talent.
During COVID-19, like millions of Americans, I felt isolated. It was a crippling time for us all. But as the world began to wake up, I’m thrilled to have taken the advice of one of my students to compete for Ms. Senior America. It was a joy to represent my family and my beloved Commonwealth of Kentucky. For the competition, we modeled an evening gown and presented our “Philosophy of Life” statement and participated in a structured personal interview with a distinguished panel of judges. Lastly, I was able to share my talent by singing the inspirational classic, “Climb Every Mountain” which led to my crowning as Ms. Senior America 2023.
I’ll always treasure the memory as a young entertainer at former Opryland USA in Nashville, Tennessee where I had the privilege to meet and perform with the late great Miss Minnie Pearl. She was once quoted as saying, “Shoot for the moon and you just might prick your finger on a star!” Miss Minnie, the Queen of Comedy at the world-famous Grand Ole Opry, proudly wore her crown made of straw that was donned with a ribbon and a $1.98 price tag hanging on it. Off the stage, she was the epitome of a lady who beautifully lived out “The Age of Elegance.” I have always admired Miss Minnie and 39 years later, I am thankful to have taken her message to heart and now proudly wear the crown that honors seniors as Ms. Senior America 2023.