By Tammy Watts
ARCANUM — Emeri Petitt-Fourman is a vivacious two year-old, with sparkling eyes and endearing smile. Her collection of pageant crowns and trophies attest to her abilities to win over judges and audiences alike, making it impossible to guess the challenges she overcame so early in life.
Emeri, daughter of Billie and Nancy Petitt-Fourman of Arcanum, was born six weeks prematurely, with hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid builds up in the brain. After surgery to have a shunt placed when she was just 11 days old, Emeri’s parents received devastating news: their daughter’s brain had sustained too much damage, and she would be in a vegetative state for her entire life. The family turned to their faith, praying for a miracle.
At Emeri’s three-month check-up, after an examination and an MRI, her doctor came into the room, overcome with emotion. “I was prepared for the worst,” Nancy said, “but then the doctor told me, this couldn’t be Emeri; she was making eye contact, and responding. He told us that our prayers had been answered. God healed our child.”
The turnaround in Emeri’s prognosis was miraculous. She continued thriving, with no delays in any of her developmental milestones. One day, she was watching the television show, “Toddlers and Tiaras,” and began to walk around, smiling, and mimicking the actions of the young pageant contestants. So, Nancy decided to let Emeri try it for herself. In October 2021, at the age of 22 months, she competed in America’s Best Pageant (ABP) with a “Wizard of Oz” theme. She ended up winning Ultimate Grand Supreme, Best Hair, People’s Choice, Most Beautiful, and ABP Ambassador. “She rocked it,” Nancy stated proudly.
Since then, Emeri also competed in the “Disney Christmas” pageant for ABP in November 2021, winning Mega High Point Supreme, Best Hair, People’s Choice, Most Photogenic, Buddy Award, and Double Crown. In the American Royal Beauty Pageant (ARB) held that same month, she won the title of Tiny Princess Ohio, Best Hair, Tiny Princess Top Model, and Overall Casual Wear.
Most recently, Emeri was crowned Tiny Miss Darke County in ABP. She plans to continue competing in pageants, and already has an extensive list of upcoming contests, including “A Winter Wonderland” this month, “Miss Pure Sparkle Ohio/Kentucky/Tennessee” in March, the Kentucky Derby Parade on April 24, ABP’s “Rumble in the Jungle,” in Lima, and “Barbie World,” in Circleville. Emeri will be competing in several national contests as well, including ARB Nationals in Cincinnati in July, and ABP ToyFest Nationals in Cape Girardeau, Missouri in September. Longer-range plans include walking in the Paris Chic Boutique fashion show in Manhattan, New York which has been delayed until 2023 due to COVID-19 restrictions there.
All pageants in which Emeri currently participates promote community involvement, and good citizenship. Emeri donates to Marleighs Ministry, an organization which sends care packages to families of babies born prematurely, and “angel gowns” for families of stillborn or deceased infants. She has also contributed to the Kentucky Tornado funds, and donated two car seats to Necco Fostering Agency in Dayton.
Emeri’s goal is to bring home another title for her community, and for her five brothers, ranging in ages from 2 to sixteen years, who always support and cheer for her. She is sponsored by Reier’s Auto, and is looking for more local businesses to sponsor her in upcoming pageants.
Daily Advocate reporter Tammy Watts can be reached at [email protected].