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Amber Seyer's family and friends gave her the confidence she needed to compete in the Miss Missouri USA pageant last weekend.
It was an intense night for the 20-year-old Oran woman, who competed against 63 other women for the chance to represent the state in the Miss USA pageant.
Seyer's aunt, Kim St. Cin, watched her niece from the audience of the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. Seyer's supporters filled an entire row in the auditorium.
After surviving three rounds of eliminations, Seyer was one of the final five.
The remaining five contestants were asked three questions -- Seyer's questions were tough, her aunt said.
Her first question was: Which do you think poses a bigger threat to the United States, the terrorist countries of Iraq or Iran, or the nuclear ambitions of North Korea?
"I feel we are more threatened by the nuclear ambitions of North Korea," Seyer said. "Terrorists in Iraq and Iran are small pinpricks, but North Korea has the ability of producing nuclear warfare and supplying it to the terrorists."
Seyer's supporters breathed a sigh of relief after her answer. St. Cin felt confident -- "Amber nailed those questions," she said.
After each contestant answered their questions, the judges announced the winners.
St. Cin squeezed the hands of family and friends who came to support Seyer. None of them were sure who would win, St. Cin said.
The judges began with the fifth runner-up, then the fourth, then third and finally two women remained on the stage. Seyer was one of them.
The suspense was torture, St. Cin said.
Finally, the judges announced the 2007 Miss Missouri USA, and it was Miss Scott County -- Amber Seyer.
"I stood there shaking. I didn't have any tears," Seyer said. "It was unbelievable."
From the audience, St. Cin said the supporters were in tears and cheering for Oran's hometown girl.
Seyer's mother Sherry is still in shock. "I'm just very happy for her," Sherry said.
In fact, 20-year-old Seyer is still in shock almost a week after the Miss Missouri pageant.
"I knew I was either going to lose good or win good. The competition was so fierce," Seyer said.
Winning the pageant means Seyer will advance to the NBC-televised Miss USA Pageant in either March or April. Organizers won't release the date until later this month.
Seyer said her biggest prize from winning the title of Miss Missouri wasn't the crown.
It wasn't the fur coat she received or the scholarship money. None of the material items she won, such as the shoes, makeup or wardrobe for the Miss USA pageant meant as much as her biggest prize of all.
It was the prize Seyer's mother gave her.
Before Seyer competed in the Miss Missouri pageant, she made a deal with her mother -- if Amber won the pageant, her mother would quit a habit she's had for many years.
Sherry Seyer quit smoking.
"The first tears rolled down my cheeks because of that. It makes me so happy she did that," Seyer said.
Seyer wants to use her title to make a difference in the state. She wants to leave a lasting impression as Miss Missouri, which is why she won't spend a single holiday with her family this year.
She plans to create a program called Holiday Hugs, Happiness and Hope, which means she'll spend Thanksgiving and Christmas visiting sick children in hospitals across the state.
"It's something I'm really excited about doing," she said. "I really want to make a difference in people's lives."
Before the Lindenwood University junior was awarded the crown, she said a prayer backstage.
"I told God that I knew there were so many people out there who deserved this title, but if he would help me achieve my dream, then I will use it to help as many people as I could," Seyer said.
She believes her family and friends' support was the reason she won Miss Missouri.
"I've grown up in a loving and supportive family. It's my family and friends who've molded me into the person I am," she said.
Seyer also earned special recognition in the interview portion of the judging, as well as winning the title of Miss Congeniality.
St. Cin said her niece isn't just a "pretty face."
"If people haven't met Amber before, I hope they have a chance to meet her sometime. She's just a wonderful, sweet and intelligent young woman," St. Cin said.
Seyer has competed in pageants before. Her first title was Little Miss Oran in 1992, and she won the title of Miss Missouri Teen USA in 2003.
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