Parker area resident Lori Deysie, mother of Army Private First Class Ara Tyler Deysie, will be one of ten Gold Star mothers to be named an Honorary Miss America as part of Project Gratitude, a program co-founded by another former Parker resident.
Tyler was killed May 9th, 2008, of wounds sustained when his unit came under rocket-propelled grenade fire while serving in Afghanistan. He was 18 years old. A member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, Deysie was born a peacekeeper following in the footsteps of his grandfather and his father who were both CRIT police officers.
Known as Tyler or T-Man, he was described as a quiet young man who was the diplomat in the household. By age 14, he knew he wanted to volunteer for the military.
“Tyler loved his family with all his heart and would talk about them all the time,” said his former girlfriend, Jasmine Delgado, who stayed close with him after they broke up.
His mother Lori described him at the time as “a jokester and a handful,” saying joining the military is what he was determined to do.
Lori and the other nine Gold Star mothers are being inducted on the Miss America stage in Atlantic City, NJ as part of Project Gratitude, which was started by another Parker woman.
“The Miss America Organization changed my life,” says Darci (Dumm) Hansen, Co-Founder of Project Gratitude, former Miss Parker 1980. “My family had limited finances my senior year of high school and I wanted to go to college. I turned to our local pageant, a Miss America preliminary- that was 38 years ago!”
The $3500 scholarship awarded to her for winning Miss Parker, plus the additional scholarship money as a finalist at Miss Arizona, paid for the majority of Hansen’s college education at Northern Arizona University.
“Creating Project Gratitude with Sharlene was a privilege that tied my love for the organization and my deeply sincere gratitude to our military into one experience.”
A week-long experience culminates in a formal ceremony remembering their sons during the Miss America pre-show this Sunday, September 9th. The competition will begin at 6pm Pacific, with a live feed of the pre-show ceremony showing on Hansen’s Etched Magazine Facebook page from 5:30pm Pacific.