Destiny Shaelyn Self, 18 and a graduate of West Lincoln High School, was crowned Lincoln County Apple Queen one year ago. She recounted her journey with L-Town Radio, telling how much she has grown as a person and a community advocate.
Self vividly remembers her first official appearance as the reigning queen at the 2018 Apple Festival as she was surrounded with an outpour of love from everyone who attended. “I got to see Lincoln County for the first time, and they were really sweet,” she said. Her appearance in this Apple Festival was also unique because it started the idea of the Apple Festival taking place in October, rather than September. She said she prefers the change because the weather is cooler and it feels more like autumn.
Along with this outpour from people she knew and people who were beginning to learn who she was, she started making valuable connections in the community. She said she was “thankful” for the relationships she was able to make with local elected officials and news media outlets.
With each Apple Queen comes a new platform to focus on that will benefit residents of Lincoln County. Self’s platform was “Family Ever After,” which brought awareness to the foster care and adoption systems in Lincoln County. This platform was important to her because of her own experience of being brought up in a non-traditional family. She and her brother moved in with her aunt and uncle at a young age, because her parents were unable to take care of them properly. She worked closely with Lincoln County’s Department of Social Services to bring her platform to life.
At DSS, Self helped create FAM, which is the Foster Adopt Movement. She described it as the “thing that sparked everything.” One of the main events she headed up for that movement was a May golf tournament at the West Port Golf Club in Denver. Through the tournament, participants were able to raise more than $3,000 to create a fund for foster kids and parents to be able to purchase anything considered extra in the foster care system, such as prom dresses, recreational soccer fees, and field trip money.
Another favorite memory for Self is the annual Christmas party DSS holds for foster children in the community, where they can receive presents put together by local churches and businesses. Later in the year, Self said one of the “most heart-touching” things she was able to participate in with DSS was a balloon-release for children to honor their adoption dates and the success in their personal life and foster stories.
After looking back at the memories from her time as Apple Queen, she had this to say to the next young lady chosen August 3 to succeed her: “I hope that my next Apple Queen stays true to who she is, that she stays humble, and that she is kind. She must remember she is a role model. I hope she is excited that she is not only the Apple Queen but that she gets to give back to her community and serve Lincoln County.”
Self has been incredibly involved in the process leading up to the pageant on Saturday, as most past Apple Queens have been. She’s been to almost all of the practices held and has gotten the chance to know each contestant. “It’s like a sisterhood to me. I’m still friends with girls who were in the pageant last year. We started with girls who couldn’t even walk in heels, and now they’re modeling,” she said. “I’m so excited to see who is going to win. All of the contestants are equally smart and beautiful. It’s going to be very exciting to see who’s going to win.”
So where is Self headed now? Although she plans to attend Wingate University in the fall to study pre-pharmacy, she says that Lincolnton will “always hold a place in my heart. I definitely will be visiting DSS and the Apple Queen pageants for years to come.”
Special Thanks to Tim Goates of Tim Goates Photography for allowing us to use selected photos.
Melissa Cordell is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s & Gender Studies. To email Melissa with a story idea or news tip email at email@example.com