Suzanne Fleming had told friends she didn’t have the time to participate in a pageant; however, their persistence, not unlike that of her and husband Gary’s Eagles Rest Ministries, found her agreeing to enter the Ms. Alabama Senior America Pageant 2019.
On Oct. 21-24, Fleming will be representing Barbour County and Alabama at the Ms. Senior America National Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event will be at the Resorts Casino Hotel.
The service organization is celebrating its 40th year. Last year‘s event was won by Miss Colorado. Last year’s Ms. Alabama Senior was Georgia Lee of Crenshaw County.
While in Atlantic City, Fleming will be treated to the annual Queen’s Breakfast, and she and Gary will attend the Cameo Ball. Last year, 40 states were represented at the pageant.
“For five years, a couple of dear friends of mine invited me and asked me to please consider running for it,” Suzanne Fleming said. “I told him I didn’t have time for it, but they kept on. They said, ‘Suzanne, the ministry can be your platform.’ So we reconsidered.”
Fleming signed up to be Barbour County’s representative or year ago. A meeting for state contestants was set for June, but due to health reasons of one of its organizers, the meeting was canceled. The committee would later call Fleming and ask her if she would represent Alabama as its Ms. Alabama Senior.
“I was honored,” Fleming said. “Being asked was an honor in itself, but things got really busy then. After much prayer, we decided together to except the invitation.”
Fleming said she was raised with the belief that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to as long as she had strong faith, strong work ethics, strong principles, a handshake for your word... “and you always kept your word.”
She won the Jefferson County Junior Miss crown in 1970 with her talents singing and playing the piano.
She will have 35 seconds to give her philosophy to judges at the pageant. She plans to showcase Eagles Rest Ministries’ mission. She will then perform the song “The Prayer.”
“We can’t take the stage to endorse anything, but I am meeting people all over the U.S., and I will speak to them about our mission,” Fleming said. “It’s amazing. For my philosophy, it’s the purpose God has been in my life. Then I will sing.”
Fleming said she plans to have videos of the children from Eagles Rest on each side of her going as she sings.
She said Gary is her “everything.” The couple met when as teenagers.
Eagles Rest Ministries was established in 1999, but the non-profit ministry was dormant for several years. After returning to Shorterville to take care of Gary’s mother, Lake City Church in Eufaula called. He was there six years before taking a leap of faith to get Eagles Rest Ministries rolling again.
Eagles Club for Kids was founded in 2015.
“What you can invest in the lives of children will carry them through their lives,” she said. “It’s faith-based and Christ-centered. We would love to have chapters all over Alabama and the United States.”
The Flemings will celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary in December. They have three children and 13 grandchildren.