Rosetta Badgett knew her granddaughter Alexandra Badgett was special from the moment she was born. We’re not talking the natural feelings any grandmother gets when looking at her newly-born grandkid, but the kind where she knew her granddaughter was going to do something to make her stand above the rest.
Badgett knew her granddaughter was meant for something big. Something special.
Fifteen years ago, Alexandra confirmed her grandmother’s hunch in the 2012 Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen competition.
Rosetta recalled her granddaughter winning the first part of the talent competition only to turn around and have an overall tie in the final day of the talent contest.
“We were a little bit confused because we wondered how do you get a tie out of Thursday when there wasn’t one on Tuesday,” Rosetta recalled. “When they announced the winner on Thursday, they said they hadn’t planned for a tie so the other young lady would receive her award later. Alex was already on the stage and when she walked past Alex, Alex gave the girl her award.”
Alexandra’s character didn’t stray during her high school days and later on at University of South Carolina where she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in finance, risk management and insurance.
After graduating in the spring of 2018, Alexandra started her own non-profit, social impact initiative N.I.N.E. — No Is Not Enough — an organization designed to spread sexual assault awareness on college campuses and work with survivors of sexual assault.
Then of course, there’s June of this past year, when Alexandra was named 2019 Miss North Carolina in the annual competition held at the Duke Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
That’s what brought her to the Caswell County Board of Education Central Office Building, telling her family’s harrowing, yet strengthening, experience with breast cancer, to a crowd of roughly 40 people Monday afternoon.
After starting with a brief introductory speech, Alexandra spent the next couple of hours meeting and greeting with the Caswell attendees, snapping pictures, shaking hands and kneeling down to talk to the younger attendees. The meet and greet was the culmination of Alexandra’s day that included trips to all six of Yanceyville’s schools. Sharing her message of hope and strength in the face of adversity.
“It’s been a blessing and quite the privilege as well,” Alexandra said. “I always talk about how the youths are some of my biggest motivators and I’m trying to shape a world for them that’s better than it was for me. That’s not saying mine has been bad, but there’s always room for improvement, always room growth and we want to keep them in mind. So, then to come here today, it’s just the icing on the cake because I get to meet and interact with the people that have paved the way for me.”
Alexandra’s grandmother, Reidsville native Carolyn Fleming, has been one that’s laid the road down for Alexandra along with the way. However, Alexandra’s and the rest of her family’s North Star, received a great test earlier this year.
Right before Alexandra was named Miss North Carolina in June, Fleming learned the devastating news she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer — landing a blow across Fleming’s and those close to her faces. However, while some families may have been staggered by the shot, Alexandra — along with her mom Veronica Bradley Perry of Charlotte, and their hosts of aunts, uncles and other grandparents overcame the blow, using their faith, strength and uniqueness in learning how to take it well.
Not long after the diagnosis, Fleming soon found herself surrounded by those close to her with many of them — including Alexandra and Perry — coming from as far as Charlotte to rally around their matriarch.
“My uncle has moved closer to home so he could be closer to grandma and he’s actually right around the corner from her now,” Badgett said. “I feel like my grandma and sister have gotten a really tight relationship. There’s been times where grandma has gotten sick and Aunt Barb [Barbara] has been there and my mom will be like, ‘Okay, I’ll stay at the hospital, ya’ll go ahead and get some sleep and there like, ‘You really think we’re leaving her?’”
The smile on Alexandra’s face as she concludes her thoughts reveals how she feels about her family who have read the real message in Fleming’s struggle.”
“I think one of the biggest things is to remember life is short and don’t take it for granted,” Alexandra said. “I think for a long time you get used to the swing of things and the fast pace and the moving and grooving that you forget to take advantage of those small opportunities but the ones that are also so truly important. So, I think we’ve visited Reidsville more in the past year than we have in a really long time and just from that, I came into a greater appreciation for the love and the family and being around people that truly love you and have your back and best interests at heart.”
“My mom [Veronica] has a business in Charlotte so that kept her in Charlotte instead of coming back to Reidsville and I see her commute all the time. I’ll call her up and say, ‘Hey, what are you doing? And she’ll tell say, ‘I’m driving to Reidsville and I always ask her why didn’t you take me?’ and she’ll say, ‘Alex, you’ve got work to do,’ and I’ll tell her Miss North Carolina will wait for a second.”
The family already had strong senses of faith and loads of strength before the ordeal but as the old saying goes, ‘Iron sharpens iron.’
“My faith is strong because of my family so I knew as soon as my mom told me, I just went, ‘We’re going to figure out why later so for now, we’re going to keep chugging along, have faith, and know she’s going to be just fine but we need to see what we need to do next and go from there,” Alexandra said.
Fleming was also blessed in the sense she had adequate health care and thanks to her yearly screenings, was able to catch the disease early. In the end, she was fortunate enough to avoid chemotherapy but still had to undergo radiation treatments, which is my no means a picnic.
Doctors warned Fleming she could still get sick from the radiation but all it took was one treatment for Alexandra and her mom to realize Fleming was going to be just fine.
“She was a trooper. When I tell you, she took that thing like a champ, I really mean it,” Alexandra said, laughing. “We sat down, she went in, she came back out, we said ‘You good?’ She said yes, and then we kept it moving, got some food and kept it chucking back to the house. Seeing that really continued to empower me and let me know I could achieve anything I wanted, anything I sat my mind to, so while I talk about the youth being my inspiration, my grandmother has been a big one as well and it’s been a joy watching her grow and watching our relationship to grow.”
The relationships have grown as well and according to Alexandra, has helped them become even more of a “Dynamic trio” than they already are.
When asked what message she wanted to pass on to Caswell residents, Alexandra gave a simple answer.
“I think the message in it is that I wanted to share with everybody today is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I know everybody has their own beliefs, but I believe there is a much, much better place for us once we finish our time here on Earth so whether that means we’re standing here together or we’re going to see each other in the long run, there’s going to be something positive to come from it.”
It’s a message that Alexandra loves sharing with not only cancer survivors, but survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as well.
“I think one of the biggest things that I do always try to share is the support system you not only gain, but then get to to go back to and be a rock and guidance for the people that are going through what you went through before,” Alexandra said. “It’s a huge village and a huge family of people and I think it’s really great to try and bring people together to support one another and be that village because it’s so easy to find yourself in a dark place because most of the time those moments are the lowest of your lows. But I always try to help people find the light in that situation and while they might not see it in the first, five or even 10 years, they’ll see the reason they went through struggles and will learn how to use it to make a difference and positive change in their communities.”
Rosetta said it the best: Special.