As Miss Tennessee, I was allowed to select a platform for any issue or cause that I cared about, and there was never any doubt what mine would be. As someone who has been deeply affected by the cycle of addiction that ran in my family, I made a commitment to myself that the cycle would end with me. When I was crowned Miss Tennessee, I vowed that I would use the great opportunity afforded to me to take my message of hope to as many people as possible.
I had no idea what to expect, and have no way of knowing how many young people truly connected with my message, or how many individuals I helped keep from going down the self-destructive and family-destroying road of addiction. What I do know is that, if I helped save only one person, all of my efforts will have been worth it.
My year as Miss Tennessee was filled with many highlights. I met with legislators, had honest conversations with students and traveled extensively. I became a goodwill ambassador for Count It! Lock It! Drop It! (CLD), a program supported through a grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation that raises awareness of specific steps people can take to fight the spread of opioid abuse. My deeply held convictions gave me the energy I needed to remain on my mission.
A few of my favorite moments included taking my advocacy campaign to Capitol Hill, where I spoke with many state leaders and legislators; attending the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events, where firsthand I saw a part of the 10 tons of unused medication Tennesseans brought to sites across the state this past April; and simply sharing my story with students.
Throughout the year, I remember traveling to schools and seeing multiple students gazing off during my talks, and I would sometimes wonder if I was really making a difference. But then I would lock eyes with others who I knew related to my story. It was times like those I realized that, though the opioid crisis is far bigger than one young woman can conquer, it takes being faithful in the small steps to make a difference.
Holding the title of Miss Tennessee was an honor and privilege. While I will not wear my crown again, I am grateful for the many experiences it brought. For me, the battle is personal; I lost my father and half-brother to addiction, making this fight one I vow to never give up.
I am aware that not everyone has the chance to voice their platform on such a big stage, but I believe that we all have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.
Together we can take huge steps in the fight against the opioid epidemic, one person at a time.
Caty Davis is an East Tennessee native and a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.