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2012 Miss America Winner Crowned (PHOTO)

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By Gracie Lee , Christian Post Contributor
January 15, 2012|2:08 pm

The new Miss America 2012 has been crowned as 23-year-old Laura Kaeppeler from Wisconsin.

Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler (C) is surrounded by fellow contestants after being crowned Miss America during the Miss America Pageant 2012 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada January 14, 2012. (Photo: Reuters/Steve Marcus)

Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler (C) is surrounded by fellow contestants after being crowned Miss America during the Miss America Pageant 2012 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada January 14, 2012.

Kaeppeler caught the attention of judges by describing how she wants children of incarcerated adults to feel less alone, to have mentoring and as much of a relationship with their parents as possible. Her own father was sent to jail for mail fraud previously.

"There are many of you out there - and I was one of them - but it doesn't have to define you," Kaeppeler told The Associated Press following her win on Saturday night. She also receives a $50,000 scholarship for her achievement.

"What happened with my father is not what my year is going to be focused on," she said. "It's going to be focused on looking forward and moving to the future because that's what my family has done and that's what I'll encourage others to do, as well."

Kaeppeler's father, Jeff Kaeppeler, has been honest when interviewed by AP, saying that he had served 18 months in a federal prison for mail fraud. That prison term commenced just as his daughter was graduating high school and entering college.

He has added: "It taught us that God can turn anything into good if you let him. Laura is totally on board with that idea. She let that drive her and inspire her this past year to get ready for this.”

"We've seen a miracle," he said.

Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson came in second, while Miss New York Kaitlyn Monte placed third.

As the 2012 Miss America, Kaeppeler will spend the next 12 months touring the country addressing various groups and raising money for the Children's Miracle Network, the Miss America Organization's official charity.

 

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