Jaclyn Stapp is a striking beauty. It is hardly a surprise that a room becomes brighter with her entrance, her soulful eyes and radiant smile illuminate the features of this Jordanian-American, but it is her effervescent spirit and immediate ease that becomes most memorable. She possesses that rare innate sensibility and warmth to relate to new people and situations in perfect decorum-something so genuine it could never come from any pageant training coach. Her own entrance into the pageant world grew much more from a need to express and define herself than from any superficial recognition. As a child, growing up in the small town of Umatilla, FL, she came to know well the taunting that can be inflicted in childhood simply for being “too different”. Her single mother was a pillar of wisdom and strength for Jaclyn, her three sisters, and brother, who all were instilled with a constant awareness of the importance of education and service above self. “Education is very important in my family,” she stresses, and she and husband, Creed singer-songwriter Scott Stapp, have already scouted potential colleges for their brood, 12-year-old, Jagger, sister Milan, 3, and baby brother, Daniel 5 mos. Giving back was always expected, too, in career choices and beyond. Jaclyn participated in numerous volunteer efforts from childhood, including her time at Florida Elk Children’s Hospital, described in her new book, where she met a best friend among the rehabilitating children. Among her family circle are doctors, U.S. Armed Forces members, meteorologists, and other callings encompassing a greater good. She describes feeling “so proud” that young Middle-Eastern girls see her as a role model.
As Wacky Jacky, she relates through her lyrical text and vivacious, wide-eyed illustrations how she coped with being ostracized for everything from her lunches to her untamable hair not through rebellion or acting out, but through finding her own voice and mission through entering her first pageant. Her journey also emphasizes that giving to others brings fulfillment beyond anything material, and allows young people to discover what they care about most. Taking the Spirit Award in that first pageant led to other titles, such as Miss New York USA in 2004, Mrs. Florida America 2008, and first runner-up for overall Mrs. America the same year. More than competition, Mrs. Stapp has used her pageant experiences as a method for calling attention to the needs of serving youth, and her own CHARM Foundation (Children Are Magical) was formed as a nonprofit outreach to heighten awareness of children’s issues, empower young women, and enrich the lives of underprivileged youth by giving them tools to create a better future, and a portion of every book sold goes to that aim. Jaclyn feels that her stories themes are more relevant than ever, as the ravages of school bullying reach every age, sex, and socioeconomic setting. “I wrote Wacky Jacky to inspire children to pursue their dreams, no matter what type of ‘bully’ they may face. I felt the need to communicate to my children and to others that confidence, generosity, and determination are all you need to succeed, and that it is really okay to be different. The easiest way for me to convey that inner beauty endures was through my own experiences. Wacky Jacky is that exciting and heartfelt journey, and I feel very fortunate to be able to share it with others.”
The signature line of the book is “You don’t need a crown to sparkle.” As wife, mom, mentor, motivator, and now, emerging author, Jaclyn Stapp’s inner sparkle outshines any tiara she has worn.
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Sources: Meeting with author, Dec. 3, 2010.