Hartsville’s Miss All-America City Teams up with United Way of
Danielle Cottingham is resilient. At the age of seven, Cottingham was run over by all-terrain vehicle, leading to over 40+ stitches on her face and plastic surgery.
“My scar is in the shape of a lower cased “q” on the left side of my face. There’s no hiding it. When I was younger, I would call it my queen scar. I told my family that I had the “q” and I could get a tattoo of “ueen” and it would be complete,” said Cottingham. This positive outlook led to “Bounce Back” Cottingham’s platform for Miss South Carolina competition. She is reaching out to groups in the community to share her story and help others learn to use tools to build resiliency.
Resilience is the ability to be knocked down by life and get back up. There are many times in life when people need to be resilient, after an accident, loss of a loved one and after a misfortunate incident in life. The ability to remain positive and move forward is essential. “One tool that I am sharing to help others is the “Bounce Back” journal It will give people in our community the chance to get their feelings down on paper. Journaling is a great tool to help build resilience. Teaming up with the United Way of Hartsville is a natural fit. My first thought was to provide journals for the fire victims that seek help there through their work with the Red Cross. After meeting with the executive director, I realized that she has other ways to share the journal as well,” said Cottingham.
“We at United Way meet so many people that are currently going through a very hard and trying time; fire victims, grandparents getting custody of grandchildren with no notice, teenagers with no place to live, a young mother with nothing for her newborn, or losing everything in a storm. I believe having a journal to pour out their thoughts, dreams and aspirations would not only give them a much needed outlet, but will allow them, in time, to go back and see just how far they’ve come. Through Miss Cottingham’s own horrific experience, she has come up with a very unique way to help others cope and I’m proud that United Way of Hartsville will be an outlet to distribute her ‘Bounce Back’ journals,” said Joann DeLong Executive Director of the United Way of Hartsville.
Cottingham does not let her accident hold her back in life. She is double majoring in vocal performance and history at Coker College. “When I was in high school, I participated in the Pulse Program and I was introduced to the stage. Performing is a huge part of my life. I learned a long time ago that my scar could not define me. So when the opportunity to start competing in pageants was presented to me, I decided that the Miss South Carolina organization would give me the opportunity to share my talent with others and earn scholarship money for college,” said Cottingham. “What I didn’t know at the time was how much I would fall in love with the service aspect of the Miss South Carolina organization. Holding a title and representing your hometown is an honor like no other, it makes you look at yourself and say, ‘what else can I do to help my community?’” added Cottingham.