Small town excited over contestant

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ORAN, Mo. -- With little more than a month until Amber Seyer of Oran will compete for the title of Miss USA, the excitement is starting to build in Seyer's hometown.

Within two weeks, the town will boast a welcome sign proclaiming Oran as the "Hometown of Amber Seyer," said Mayor Tom Urhahn.

This Sunday, the Seyer family will open the doors of their home to well-wishers who are pulling for the local young woman to win it all. "Soon it will get very, very busy around here," said Amber's mother, Sherry.

Beauty contests may seem glamorous and fun, and they are, Amber said, but they're also a lot of work. Since her selection as Miss Missouri in November, life has been busy for the 20-year-old. Training for the pageant, seminars and public appearances have dominated Amber's life. She didn't spend the holidays with her family, choosing instead to use her new fame to do charity work putting together packages and gifts and delivering them to children in hospitals and those in veterans homes and nursing homes. Amber says her family didn't mind.

"They were so supportive," she said.

"Supportive" is the word she uses to describe the people not just in her hometown but in all of Southeast Missouri who are pulling for her to win big March 23. "I would have to say that honestly I have become the woman that I am because I have such a supportive and loving town," Amber said. "They have been behind me 100 percent of the way."

Back at home Seyer's family is almost overwhelmed by the support sometimes. Sherry said strangers from towns outside of Oran will stop her when they see her out and give their wishes for Amber's success.

"There's times that you think, OK, how do they know me?" Sherry said.

This kind of attention is nothing new for the Seyer family. Amber was Miss Missouri Teen USA in 2003, but this time everything is on a bigger stage. "It's basically the same, but I think they're a little more proud this time," Sherry said.

If the excitement is magnified for Amber's family, it's that much more magnified for Miss Missouri USA. "It's at a much greater level," Sherry said. "It goes up from a level five to a level 10."

But the bigger stage doesn't translate into more nerves, Amber said. "It's kind of like a baseball player ... you can't ask him if he's nervous pitching on the mound. It's my moment."

While Amber has her moment, people in her hometown will be huddled around TV sets, some of them likely watching a big screen at the Oran Knights of Columbus Hall, where Sherry said some family members will hold a party.

Regardless of the outcome, Sherry said Amber will still return to a proud hometown. "Whatever happens, we'll love her either way," she said.

Until the pageant, the anticipation will continue to build. Urhahn said a ceremony to dedicate Amber's sign will be held soon, though the date is still undetermined.

The Miss USA Pageant will air at 8 p.m. March 23 on NBC.

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