French Henry to speak
at Carroll County Chamber banquet
CARROLLTON, Ky. (August 2003) Heather French Henry,
Miss America 2000 and wife of Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, will be
the keynote speaker at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce annual
banquet on Aug. 12.
The annual event will be held at Gen. Butler Convention
Center in Carrollton. The public is welcome to attend the dinner and
Henry, 28, was born in Augusta, Ky. Her family moved a short distance
away to Maysville when she was age 2. Growing up a small-town girl,
Henry said she participated in beauty pageants from time to time but
that the contests were not her all-consuming passion. Pageants
were just a tiny part of other things going on, said Henry. Those
other things included singing gospel music with her parents, performing
in music theater and participating in a variety of extra-curricular
activities like chorus, band and high school sports at Mason County
After graduating from high school in 1992, Henry went on to the University
of Cincinnati, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in Fashion
Design in 1997. By that time she had won a variety of beauty contests
and continued to compete but said she considered education her primary
Henry met her husband in 1995 at a brunch hosted by the governors
office. (He) had the difficulty of hosting all of the Miss Kentucky
contestants as a bachelor, Henry joked. The two crossed paths
several times over the following years but did not go out on their first
date, an outing at the Kentucky State Fair, until after Henry became
Miss Kentucky in 1999.
Henry won the Miss America pageant in 2000 with her platform of raising
awareness of the plight of homeless veterans. This led her on a national
speaking tour titled, Our Forgotten Heroes: Honoring Our Nations
Homeless Veterans. Henry said her platform choice was inspired
by growing up the daughter of a disabled Vietnam veteran addicted to
prescription drugs. There are so many people who dont want
to talk about this issue because its not pretty, she said.
Her father, Ron French, now recovered, accompanied her throughout much
of the tour.
Henrys outspoken service activities as Miss America earned her
the Woman of Achievement Award for the year 2000. She was the only Miss
America to be so honored at the end of her year of service.
Henry married Henry in October 2000 in a lavish ceremony called the
social event of the year in Kentucky, by the Associated Press.
Reporters and spectators crowded around the church in downtown Louisville,
where the wedding ceremony took place to catch a glimpse of the fairy-tale
couple. The ceremony was broadcast on local television stations.
Since becoming Kentuckys second lady, French has attained a masters
degree, worked as a morning news anchor for Louisvilles Fox 41
channel and given birth to two daughters, Harper Renee, 2, and Taylor
Augusta, born July 4.
Besides being a mom, Henry remains busy with regular speaking engagements
and heading her organization, the Heather French Foundation for Veterans.
It is a nonprofit corporation that works to offer services and support
to veterans in the areas of homelessness, healthcare and housing. When
possible, Henry works personally to help veterans in need of services
On a daily basis I get calls from individual veterans who need
help with getting their disability claims pushed through. So many have
had claims in the system for one to two years, she said.
Henry is also currently writing a series of childrens books, The
Adventures of Claire, that center around the message of honoring
our nations veterans. The first book of the series, Peppers
Purple Heart, is scheduled to be released independently on Veterans
Day this year and nationally next year.
Perhaps the most pressing concern Henry has at the moment is the illness
of her husband. Lt. Gov. Henry announced at a July 22 press conference
that he would undergo surgery for prostate cancer.
Were looking for a favorable outcome, she said during
a telephone interview immediately following the press conference. She
said the cancer had been caught at a very early stage.
Henry said she will deliver a universal message of community involvement
at the chamber of commerce annual dinner. She plans to encourage community
service, especially among high school students. And of course,
I always throw in my veterans, she said.
Tickets to the 6:30 p.m. (EDT) event are $25 per person and
may be purchased by calling the chamber office at (502) 732-7034.
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