Carly Carver, Editor
The Ashland Beacon
A small Ashland native is taking home a big title, as five-month-old Aubree Tussey was recently named as Baby Miss Kentucky 2020.
Aubree is the daughter of Curtis and Joanna Tussey, and like most little girls she loves to be dressed up and adored by her family.
“She’s always just such a happy baby,” said Joanna.
Aubree was recently named Baby Miss Kentucky 2020 and will be officially crowned in a spectacular photo shoot in April. Her mother said that her daughter only recently began competing in pageants, after a friend in Nashville mentioned it to them.
“I came home, and I looked into getting her in a pageant after that,” said Joanna. “I registered her in a one where everyone gets a participation crown and then she ended up winning Baby Miss Kentucky 2020.”
Aubree competes in the Magical Crowns pageantry circuit under the director, LaQoria Bullock.
“She pushes us to be the best person we can be,” said Joanna.
Joanna said that Aubree has fun while competing in the pageants and is always smiling.
“We are competing in Nationals in October,” said Joanna. “If she wins that, she will get National Baby Miss Kentucky.” Joanna said that the National Baby Miss Kentucky is the highest award in all pageant circuits. The event will take place in Nashville, TN.
Aubree, accompanied by her mother, is also active in joining events and different volunteer activities.
“When we go out and volunteer or do events, she’s just always a happy baby,” said Joanna. “She loves everyone.”
Joanna is currently working to organize a meeting at local union halls to allow Aubree to meet local union workers, then expand throughout Kentucky.
“We want to bring snacks and show our support,” said Joanna.
Curtis, Aubree’s father, is a union worker, so advocacy for unions is something near to the Tussey family’s heart.
Aubree, as Baby Miss Kentucky, has an advocacy platform she stands for that focuses on two issues.
The first is Union Plus Education Foundation, which provides scholarships to union workers dependents to afford higher education.
“It’s one less thing the union workers have to worry about,” said Joanna.
Since the Union Plus Scholarship Program launched it has awarded more than $4.5 million to students of working families who want to begin or continue their post-secondary education. To learn more about this cause, visit https://www.unionplus.org/.
Aubree’s second issue is Aubree’s Care Packages, a project launched by the Tussey family in January that assists children of deployed service members by sending them a coping package that includes a doll of their deployed service member. The care packages also include coloring books, stuffed animals, and whatever else is age-appropriate for that child.
“We’ve sent about 10 packages so far,” said Joanna. “Here soon we are going around to schools in Ashland to see if we can help local children as well.”
Advocating for deployed service members is something the Tussey family has experience with, as they’ve played a role in Operation Gratitude.
Operation Gratitude launched in 2003 and has since sent 2,507,843 care packages to deployed service members.
Joanna said the most needed item for care packages is letters.
“We want to get as many letters as possible showing their appreciation to these people,” said Joanna.
The Tussey family is collecting letters and asking the public’s assistance with this cause.
To send a letter, address to Curtis Tussey at 1274 Murfreesboro Pike APT #534 in Nashville, TN 37217.
For more information on Operation Gratitude, visit https://www.operationgratitude.com/.
Advocacy is something that Joanna said she wants her daughter to remember through pageantry.
“Pageantry isn’t just about beauty, it’s showing how you were raised, it’s helping others, it’s giving back to the community,” said Joanna. “We don't do it to compete in pageants. We do it to help and move our platform more and to show more support to Ashland.”
Aubree and Joanna are also registered to walk in the Walk MS race on March 29. Joanna was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2018, at the young age of 22. Joanna said she intends to walk with her daughter in her chest carrier so they can support one another.
Aubree is currently working with pageant representatives from TN, alongside Miss Baby Alabama and Miss Baby Oregon, to visit a nursing home in Nashville, TN and have a crafting event with them.
“There are a lot of older people who don’t have families there,” said Joanna. “It gives them interaction time with the kids, and they also get visitors.”
Joanna said that alongside all her daughter’s charitable work and meeting new people in her community, the support has meant so much to them, and they are sure their daughter as well.
“We’ve had so much support from the State of Kentucky, but most importantly from our community in Ashland, Kentucky,” said Joanna. “We’ve had people on Facebook, we’ve had the newspaper now, people telling us how our daughter will be a great representative for our city.”
The Tussey Family is appreciative of all of the support and is hoping they can turn that support into assistance. Currently, they are seeking an organization, church, or school to partner with Baby Miss Kentucky 2020 to hold a pancake breakfast to benefit military and veterans around Ashland, along with first responders. Joanna said they are currently looking for help planning this event, as well as donations.