Written by Ariyanna Norman
Photos courtesy of Dimon Sanders
Dimon Elease Sanders was crowned the 2017 Miss Arizona’s Outstanding Teen on Saturday, June 24 at the Mesa Arts Center. She will represent Arizona at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando July 25-29.
Sanders is a 17 year old junior in high school from Marana. She has been a local titleholder in the Miss America Organization for the past three years. Her community service initiative is “Hope for Children in Foster Care”. She uses her pageant titles to spread awareness about the plight of children in the foster care system.
Sanders spent five years in foster care before she was adopted at age 13. During that time, she had a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Cynthia Dean, who looked after her. She says Dean is still a part of her family and a very important person in her life.
“Don’t let your past dictate your future,” is a quote she says she lives by. Because of the positive impact that her CASA had on her life, she decided to become a local ambassador for the National CASA Association. She speaks to foster parents and encourages them to not give up on the children in their care and to treat them as if they are their biological children.
Sanders also visits children in group homes. She tells the kids: “Don’t give up because you’re happily ever after is coming.”
Sanders actually met her parents, Joshua and Apache Sanders, at a National Society for Black Engineers event while she was in middle school. Her counselor helped her keep in touch with them so that they could form a relationship.
In addition to being a CASA ambassador, Sanders has also filmed several commercials for KVOA, which is an NBC affiliate in Tucson. She uses these public service announcements to encourage more adults to become CASAs. These volunteers are a judge’s eyes and ears and help protect children from abusive environments.
“That was my goal honestly, to be the first one. I feel really excited that I made history and achieved my goal,” she said.
If you would like to follow her journey, you can find her on Instragram @MAOTeenAZ, on Twitter @MAOTeenAZ and on her Facebook page “Miss Arizona’s Outstanding Teen”.
The Miss America Organization, which is the oldest pageant system in the world, was recently ranked number one by TheBestColleges.org as the biggest scholarship provider in the world. The teen division (Miss America’s Outstanding Teen) was founded in 2005. All the money that is awarded must be used to pay for college courses and other related expenses.