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‘A message of resilience’

Williamstown's Amanda Peacock competes in fifth run for Miss New Jersey

Amanda Peacock competed in her fifth run for Miss New Jersey earlier this month.

It’s a competition to which she has dedicated her time and energy over 11 years, having had her first taste of pageantry at 13 years old.

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Elizabeth Mendel, 22, of Cape May Court House, went on to win the competition. Peacock competed as Miss Seashore Line. Ahead of the competition that took place at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City earlier this month, Peacock shared her drive.

“One important lesson I have learned in my five years of competing, and that I want to reflect, is a message of resilience,” she noted. “If I could describe in one word why I do this year after year, it’s resilience. It shows that I do not give up on a dream.”

Peacock said preparation for the competition is different year after year.

“I came into the competition this year very different,” she explained, nothing it was important to keep her mind and body healthy with personal training and a healthy diet.

Since her first competition eight years ago, Peacock has been named Miss Gloucester County’s Teen for 2014 and 2015, Miss Atlantic Shores Teen for 2016, Miss Veterans Day 2018, Miss Northern Lakes 2019 and Miss South Jersey for 2022. She competed as Miss Harbor Shores last year.

The pageants have afforded Peacock a voice for a cause that hit close to home: the Toni and RJ Foundation. A lifelong resident of Williamstown – except when she attended Montclair State University – Peacock was drawn to what happened to Toni Donato Bolis in 2011.

Bolis was just 28 and pregnant when she was killed in a motor vehicle crash caused by a distracted driver using a cell phone. She was less than a mile away from home and fewer than 36 hours away from giving birth to her son and second child, Ryan Jeffrey, or RJ.

The crash happened on Pitman-Downer Road in Washington Township when the distracted driver suddenly drove into opposing traffic. After missing two other cars, he struck Bolis’ SUV head on, according to the foundation’s website. The Toni and RJ Foundation was later created in memory of Bolis and her son.

Just 13 at the time of Bolis’ death, Peacock has used her pageant competitions as a platform for distracted-driving awareness, joining forces with the foundation and its mission to educate drivers on the driving distracted by publicly sharing Toni and RJ’s story in schools and other public forums.

Peacock continues to advocate against texting and driving. In the last year, she’s made school presentations on her cause and has worked with a local assemblyman to advocate for stricter penalties against distracted drivers.


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