Every person was made in the perfect image of God. He is the one that has a plan for us. He is the one who gave us our own unique life. Not only did He give us different lives, He gave us different looks, personalities, and circumstances. Now a lot of you might be looking through and reading my blog and think, “Wow, she has the perfect life. She has not been through anything hard.” Well, think again.
Imagine you are walking down the halls in sixth grade and you see a five foot ten girl with curly, out of control hair who is constantly tripping over herself. Yes, that was me. But God also gave me a severe speech impediment that made me sound like Elmer Fudd from Looney Tunes. I was different, to say the least. I had braces in second grade to correct my buck teeth that stuck out over my lip. In fourth grade I was wearing a women’s size ten sneaker and was taller than my teacher. Punky Brewster (if you know who that even is) was my fashion inspiration. All of these things made me an easy target. My speech never bothered me and I was used to always being the tallest kid in the grade. I was happy. My happiness was short lived when I found the true differences between me and my classmates. I was called names, made fun of and always picked last for any sports games in P.E. Middle School will forever be the worst years of my life. I hated how much power other kids had over me and my happiness. It became an endless fight everyday for me to even just go to class. I started to put myself in a little box and would protect myself at all costs. I disconnected from friends and people around me in fear that they looked down on me. But, one day everything changed for me. I was competed in a beauty pageant and won. This was the first pageant I had ever won and I was so excited. Nothing could ruin my mood. Then a judge walked up to me and told me something I would never forget. “Haleigh, you will never go anywhere in pageantry if you did not fix your speech impediment.” This broke my heart. Here I was living a dream that I had worked hard five years for and felt completely defeated, then angry. Like why would God put me in pageantry if this would lead to nothing for me? Boy, was I wrong. I was so mad I decided to go to speech therapy until it was fixed. I was determined that this was God’s plan for me, that Pageantry would be the place I would feel accepted. And, I was right. I corrected my speech impediment in sixth months when therapists predicted it would take two years. Then, I learned to see my height as an asset. I am now PROUD to be five foot ten. If only middle school Haleigh could see me now, she would not believe it.
In seventh grade I launched my first ever platform, “Your Uniqueness is Never a Weakness”. I spoke all over my area about embracing things that made others different. I found a love for volunteering with Special Needs children, and that is something I still love to do today. I quickly decided that this was my calling. This is why God put me through all of the trials and tribulations. Flash-forward to my freshman year in high school. I was still an avid volunteer and spoke to my first school with a new anti-bullying platform, “Shine Your Light”. I love speaking to schools and connecting with kids, and the children seemed to enjoy everything I was saying. But, speaking to younger kids was hard because they didn’t quite understand the concept of bullying. So, I wrote and published my children’s book, “Shine Your Light”. This is my story represented through fictional characters children can relate too. My speaking career took off from there, I have now spoken to over 10,000 people all over the United States and Guam. It brings me so much joy to be a light of hope in others lives. Moments like these make me look back and reflect on my life and grateful for every trial God put me through. On March 6, 2021 I hosted a National Anti-Bullying conference called, “Be Bold, Be You, Be BRAVE; Empowering others to Shine their Light”. Having 130 young women from across the nation join and be a part of this event brought tears to my eyes at the end of it all. Every girl left feeling uplifted by five motivational speakers talking about health, nutrition, empowering those around you, hair and makeup tips, and so much more. Every girl also left with sponsored gifts. I am honored to have not only impacted those girls, but hopefully the girls they will impact in turn.
Shine Your Light means so much to me. I want to help everyone realize their true potential. Let me share my passion with you or your group. Please contact me if you want me to speak virtually or in-person at your next event.