Miss Georgetown Morgan Elvis recently posted on Instagram that she was grateful for every day she gave, “both the easiest and the hardest.”
She knows first-hand that the future is not promised and how hard the “tough” can be.
Her older sister, Heather Elvis, was kidnapped almost eight years ago at a landing stage in Socastee and has never been found. She was 20 years old and had had a relationship with an older man whom she eventually learned was married.
The man, Sidney Moorer, and his wife, Tammy, were convicted of kidnapping Heather and are being held in state prisons in South Carolina, each serving a 30-year sentence.
Morgan, now 24 and a candidate for the 2021 Miss South Carolina pageant, endured the pain of losing her sister and applied it to help others who are going through a similar trauma. Her pageant platform is to ensure families have the support they need within the first 48 hours of a missing child in what she has described as a community-driven effort.
She said during question and answer on the Miss South Carolina stage on Tuesday that she believed she could have benefited greatly from such a program.
“I am here, broken and beautiful, to stand up for those who cannot be here. Those who weren’t as lucky as me, who were shaped by their circumstances and not for the better. I will bridge the gap, you will never walk alone, ”she said on Instagram after his presentation on stage.
She and her parents, Debbie and Terry Elvis, are no strangers to the limelight. Heather’s case has been in the news for years. . Hundreds of people spent days collecting firewood and water for her. after his disappearance in December 2013 and numerous television police shows presented the case.
There have been four trials linked to Heather’s disappearance: Sidney Moorer’s first, for kidnapping, ended in failure. Another for obstructing justice sent him to prison. And after his wife was convicted of kidnapping in 2018, Sidney Moorer was retried and convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap in 2019.
During the retrial, prosecutors presented shocking new evidence – a cousin of Tammy Moorer saw a photo of what looked like a dead Heather, and Tammy and Sidney’s phones were tracked along with Tammy Moorer’s phone. Heather was at a landing stage.
But for the Elvis family, while the convictions are justice on some level, they still don’t know what happened to Heather. Terry Elvis said ABC News for a documentary aired in March this year that he expects Heather to walk into the house someday, even though he knows it’s unlikely.
Morgan Elvis turned to the Miss South Carolina organization for strength in the midst of grief. This year is his fourth attempt for the crown, having represented Myrtle Beach, the Pee Dee and the 2017-2019 Lowcountry. She was crowned Miss Georgetown County after the winner’s resignation.
Morgan has also twice entered the Miss South Carolina Teen Pageant, representing Horrif County the year her sister and Summerville went missing in 2014.
She said the competition gave her a safe haven when she needed counseling the most. It helped her turn the pain into something productive, she said.
Margie Watkins, chair of the competition’s media committee, said it was common for contestants to shape their platforms based on their life experience.
Magic City Teen Madelyn Faircloth, said she wanted to raise awareness about congenital heart disease, which her family suffered. Clemson Teen Reilly Ray is focused on supporting children with type 1 diabetes from which she suffers. Garden City Teen Ashley O’Connor advocates for hands-free legislation. Her brother died in a car accident at the age of 17.
Miss Hub City Jill Dudley, whose brother has diabetes, wants to focus on making insulin more affordable. Miss Camden Rylee Mathis prepares bags of books for children who need to be hospitalized and saw her program in action when her brother was diagnosed with Crohne’s disease. She also campaigns for blood donation.
Elvis is a graduate of the University of South Carolina Aiken, where she majored in legal studies focused on victim advocacy and was recently sworn in as an ad litem guardian to advocate for children in the justice system. .
In the brochure of the Miss South Carolina pageant, she names her goal – to run the office of the victims ombudsman for the attorney general.
Morgan Elvis’ story replicates that of 36 years ago, when 17-year-old Shari Smith was abducted from her Lexington County driveway and ultimately murdered. The following year, her sister Dawn Smith was crowned Miss South Carolina, then second in Miss America.
Now known as Dawn Smith Jordan, she has shaped a successful career in gospel music. She often talks about her younger sister and recorded a song about her.
Larry Eugene Bell was executed in 1996 after being convicted of murdering 9-year-old Shari Smith and Debra May Helmick, of Richland County.
Morgan Elvis said she saw the strength in each of the women she met via Miss South Carolina. Everyone has been a victim and a survivor, she said WBTV in 2018.
“This is what is so great, that Miss America is a melting pot of pain transformed into power and power of women who empower other women,” she said at the time.
On Thursday night, Elvis performed “I’m Here” from “Color Purple,” which includes these lyrics:
“I have my sister
I can feel her now
She might not be there
but she is still mine
I know she still loves me “
This Miss South Carolina pageant ends Saturday night at Columbia’s Township Auditorium. Friday night, Miss SC Teen will be crowned.