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Jamaican wins Miss Deaf International 2011

Published:Wednesday | July 20, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Miss Deaf Jamaica Cassandra Whyte is crowned by outgoing Miss Deaf International Lore Ameloot (Miss Deaf Belgium). - Contributed
Denise Whyte (right), mother of Cassandra Whyte, congratulates her daughter for winning the Miss Deaf International pageant at the Chapin Theater in Orlando, Florida, recently.
Miss Deaf International top four are chosen during the second staging of the pageant last Saturday at the Chapin Theatre in Orlando, Florida. From left: Miss Deaf Korea, Miss Deaf Brazil, Miss Deaf France and Miss Deaf Jamaica. - Contributed photos

The Jamaican Deaf Community erupted in ecstasy last Saturday night as news broke that their queen, Miss Deaf Jamaica - Cassandra Whyte, had won Miss Deaf International 2011 in Orlando, Florida.

It was the first time that a deaf contestant representing Jamaica was competing at an international event. Out of a field of more than 20 young deaf ladies, representing China, The United States of America, Peru, South Africa, Poland, France, Korea, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Sweden, Mongolia and Switzerland, all competing at the 2nd Annual Miss Deaf International, an organisation whose aim is to empower deaf women worldwide, Cassandra walked away, the winner.

First runner-up was Miss Deaf Brazil, while second runner-up went to Miss Deaf France, and third to Miss Deaf Korea.

As the winner, Whyte will be the ambassador for deaf women worldwide.

The competition which lasted two days, from July 14-16, involved a swimsuit section, talent show, national costume section and evening gown.

Whyte, who was the winner of the inaugural Miss Deaf Jamaica last year, is a deaf social worker at the Jamaica Association for the Deaf. Chairman of Miss Deaf Jamaica, Rian Gayle was shocked upon hearing the news.

"Everything happened so fast. I just couldn't believe it," he said.

Gayle mentioned that this wouldn't be possible without the hard work and support from the sponsors, Whyte's family members and mother, Denise Whyte, and Ryan Small, chairman of the National Youth Council of Jamaica who sponsored Cassandra's flight to the event in Orlando, Florida.

Miss Deaf Jamaica, a new entity formed last year, aims to develop Deaf Jamaican women into role models, advocates ambassadors and spokeswomen.

Whyte's victory is expected to have a huge impact on young Deaf girls in Jamaica.