INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A bit of Hoosier royalty stopped by Daybreak on Friday.
Samantha Toney, of Clarksville, was crowned Miss Indiana USA on Sunday in Noblesville. She took home the title in her seventh year of competition.
Toney tells News 8 that she competed for so many years partly as a way to honor her mother, who died when Toney was just three years old.
“She was only 34, and if I only had 34 years on this earth, what would I want to do with it? I would want to make it as meaningful and as fulfilling as possible,” Toney said. “That’s why I continue to push on and I continue to persevere because I knew that the moment that this happened, she would be so proud.”
Toney was named first runner-up three times before finally winning the crown. She says working so hard and getting so close to the title was difficult.
“You’re always told growing up, you know, if you work hard enough you can accomplish it, but those were just ‘nos’ and ‘not yets,’” Toney said. “There’s a time and there’s a place for me to have this title, for me to have this job, and I just encourage you, if you have a dream…there’s just one more try in you that can really take you to that dream.”
Toney says she draws strength from a difficult time in her life. Three days before she was set to audition for a role as an NFL cheerleader, she was in a car accident on Interstate 65. A semi hit her vehicle and she went head-on into a concrete median at about 70 mph.
“I was in the hospital for about three days…and in a back brace for six months,” Toney said. “And that was, once again, just a setback. It was just one thing that held me back, but I persevere. I just…I always want to make sure that I overcome anything that’s ever in my way.”
She recovered from her injuries and spent several years as an Indianapolis Colts cheerleader.
As she begins her time as Miss Indiana USA, Toney’s message to others is this: Rise above your circumstances.
“Make sure that if there’s something standing in your way, that you know how to push forward and you know how to persevere through that so that your goals are achieved, because, mine was — and it was on my seventh and final try,” Toney said.