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2012 News Releases

Longwood senior uses pageant experience to increase SIDS awareness

March 26, 2012

Blaire Borum competing in a beauty pageant

Winning beauty pageants isn't just about tiaras and evening gowns.

For Longwood University senior Blaire Borum, a communication sciences and disorders major, it's also about access to hospitals, new moms' groups, PTAs and other organizations where new parents are likely to be found.

"It definitely opens doors for me," says Borum, crowned Miss Springfield earlier this year and a competitor in this summer's Miss Virginia pageant. "Pageants give me a platform that I can use to help families avoid what befell mine."

In 1994, when Blaire was 6, her newborn brother, Jordan, died unexpectedly. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) takes the lives of more than 2,000 infants nationwide every year. The tragic experience has shaped Borum's life ever since.

As a statewide pageant contestant and winner since age 10, Borum finds frequent opportunities to share her family's experience, preventative measures and other SIDS resources for new parents.

Blaire Borum (right) supporting the Infant Toddler Connection’s Giving Tree program during the holidays

Blaire Borum (right) supporting the Infant Toddler Connection’s Giving Tree program during the holidays with graduate student Ashley Pawlik (middle) and Theresa Anders (left), system manager.

As a Longwood University student, she's channeled her passion for the issue into founding, with her mother, the Central Virginia SIDS Bereavement Group, the region's only a support center for families who have lost a child to SIDS, and the Jordan Forrest Tyler Foundation, a fundraising group for SIDS research named after her brother.

It's a lot of work on top of class and trying to get into graduate school for more advanced speech pathology work, but her out-of-class service doesn't stop there. Borum also works every week at Longwood's Infant and Toddler Connection, a community resource that helps local children overcome developmental disorders through physical and speech therapy.

And she's president this year of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association.

"My schedule can get ridiculous, but one of the things I love about Longwood is the support and encouragement I have here to do what's important to me," she says. "It's worth it to give families and kids a little hope."

Beautiful, indeed.