Miss Pennsylvania Valerie Gatton will be one of many contestants to participate in the Miss USA pageant on Sunday, June 8, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and she has not shied away from her emotional story of being conceived in rape, reports LifeSiteNews.
At the age of 19, Gatton's mother was raped at knife point and, quite possibly, might have been murdered if she didn't manage to escape after he became distracted.
Valerie's mother originally planned to give her up for adoption so she could attend law school, but she instead decided to raise Valerie herself. Now, aside from winning Miss Pennsylvania, Valerie is a graduate from the University of Pittsburgh magna cum laude with a degree in Business Administration. As LifeSiteNews reports, she hopes to someday lead a philanthropic organization serving underprivileged children in the United States.
“I knew God put me here for a purpose, and He’s the reason my mother and I were saved,” Gatto says. “I want to do Him proud and my family proud.”
“I could just sit here and say, ‘Why did this happen?’ and ‘Does my father know I exist?’” Valerie continued. “But God put me here to do great things, and I’m not going to let things from the past stop me.”
Regarding her mother, Valerie stands inspired by how her mother overcame the horrors of rape by allowing her to live.
“It gives me a deep desire to shed light on the trauma of sexual assault and rape for young women,” Gatto explains. “I am very passionate about educating women on how to protect themselves and prevent these types of crime.”
“My mom always told me I was her light. The way I look at it, from that moment of conception, I was the light associated with the darkness. That’s what I hope to do as Miss Pennsylvania 2014.”