Heather French Henry takes on new role at Miss Kentucky this weekend
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - As a child, Taylor Henry was convinced her mom, Heather French Henry, was a Disney princess. The revelation always came as quite the shock to her friends.
“‘Your mom’s a Disney princess.’ I was like, ‘yeah I don’t know what movie because I can’t find it right now, but I know she’s a Disney princess,’” Taylor said.
She may not have been an actual princess, but to this day, Heather is the only Miss Kentucky to earn the title of Miss America.
Taylor grew up around pageantry, but until recently she felt more at home on the softball field.
“I never dreamt in a million years when I had two daughters that either of them would be interested in doing pageants,” Heather said.
As you can imagine, her mom was shocked when she started toying with the idea of following in her footsteps.
“I walked like I was going up to home base,” Taylor said.
The concept was foreign at first, but she’s come a long way since her first county fair.
This Saturday, she’ll compete for her mom’s old title of Miss Kentucky.
“She looked at me and she goes ‘are you sure you want to do this? I don’t want you to feel like you’re doing this because of me.’ And I said, ‘I have always seen Miss Kentucky because of you. I’ve seen it as such a positive thing, but also because of you, I wanted to do it in my own way,’” Taylor said.
One of Heather’s greatest strengths was her commitment to her platform—veterans advocacy. While Taylor shares her mom’s passion for helping veterans, she has a platform all her own... suicide prevention.
“I’ve seen my friends struggle. I’ve struggled. I recently lost my softball coach to suicide in March. And he was such a father figure, he was such a positive person in my life and to even lose that soul that I had a connection with pushed me forward. And ever since I’ve really been hitting the ground running. In my mind I could win a crown, I could win a sash, but what’s important is if I win, a microphone to speak about this issue. That’s what I really want,” Taylor said.
Heather certainly wants her daughter to be successful and achieve her goals, but she wants her to focus more on the journey—not the bejeweled gowns and crowns.
“I’ve tried to prepare Taylor for, you know she could go in, she could not make it as a semifinalist or a finalist, but this is about experience,” Heather said. “You know it took me half a decade to win. So five years of competing. So I walked away plenty of times eating my mint chocolate chip ice cream, and saying I’m taking some time off, but always coming back around because the mission what I wanted and that was to take care of veterans.”
There’s no denying it—it’s going to be tough for Taylor to live up to her mother’s achievements, but at the end of the day, Taylor says she’s just going to try her best to enjoy the journey along the way.
Copyright 2021 WKYT. All rights reserved.