Columns and stories of life from the Fredericksburg area.
Caressa Cameron, Fredericksburg’s Miss America, weds high school sweetheart
CELEBRATE: MISS AMERICA IS NOW A MRS.
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Even while getting a manicure, pedicure and massage the day before her wedding, Caressa Cameron found a way to support HIV/AIDS research, a cause close to her heart.
Studio D’Esthetique provided the beauty services to the former Miss America, her bridesmaids and her mother—then donated the $1,280 it would have charged the wedding party to AIDS United, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Cameron, a Massaponax High School graduate, championed HIV/AIDS issues during her reign in 2010, and she still works for the cause now.
In fact, she’s making a career out of it.
For the past year, she’s worked for AIDS United, an organization dedicated to ending the spread of HIV/AIDS and developing sound public health policies in response to the epidemic.
Since she lost her Uncle Robert to the disease when she was 8, she has done work, along with her mother, to prevent others from contracting it.
And at her wedding last weekend to her high-school sweetheart, Nat Jackson, she advocated for the issue.
In lieu of gifts, she asked her guests to donate to the organization.
She said since she and Nat are 25 and 26 and have their own apartments already, there are a lot of things they don’t need that they would typically receive as wedding gifts.
Her guests were thrilled about the idea, she said.
In addition to her guests, her vendors, such as Studio D’Esthetique, supported her cause.
Cameron’s mother, Lavern, also does work with HIV/AIDS issues.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would impact her in such a way,” Lavern said about her daughter.
She said she knows her brother, Cameron’s Uncle Robert, is smiling down on his niece.
‘A TRUE HEART’
Her bridesmaids are also supportive of her efforts.
Leigh–Taylor Sigfusson is a friend Cameron met through the Miss America organization. In 2008, she was Miss New York, but before that, she lived in Virginia and competed in pageants here.
She said it’s been neat watching Cameron grow and be so dedicated to her cause.
“I think it’s obviously incredible,” she said. “You don’t often find young people so passionate. She’s turned it into something, she made it their life’s work. You don’t see that in people.”
Audrey Sykes, a friend Cameron met in sixth grade at Battlefield Middle School in Spotsylvania County, has also watched Cameron progress and was supportive of her work.
“It’s amazing—with weddings and birthdays, people tend to make it all about them.” she said. “To work her passion into her big day, it’s a very selfless act.”
Nikki Jenkins sat on the sidelines with Cameron at Massaponax football games as their boyfriends ruled the field.
She’s been close with Cameron through all the pageants and hoopla surrounding them and said she stayed grounded.
“I think it’s an amazing job she’s doing with that. It’s a great cause,” she said. “She’s so willing to reach out a helping hand. It shows she has a true heart.”
CARESSA’S LOVE STORY
Cameron met her husband when they both attended Massaponax High School.
She said he was a “popular jock” and lots of girls chased him.
He was the star quarterback of the football team. Now he helps out with coaching for football and basketball at the school.
They dated briefly but decided to just be friends.
Their romance rekindled while they were in college—he at the Virginia Military Institute and she at Virginia Commonwealth University. She said they wrote letters back and forth and started dating his junior year.
“He is one of the most caring, amazing men I’ve ever met,” she said.
When they got engaged, on Sept. 17, 2011, everyone knew except her. They were taking formal photos at the train station downtown for their five-year anniversary, which she thought was her gift.
For one of the shots, the photographer distracted her and Jackson got down on one knee. When she looked back to him, he was ready to propose.
“I didn’t let him get the proposal out of his mouth,” she said. “I’m always getting the last word.”
Cameron’s family likes Jackson, too.
“He’s a great young man,” Lavern Cameron said. “He has a heart of gold.”
Her friends agreed that they were a good match for each other.
They both still continue to live in Fredericksburg. In addition to working for AIDS United in Washington, Cameron is finishing her degree in communications online from Virginia Commonwealth University.
For their wedding Sunday evening at Fredericksburg United Methodist Church in downtown Fredericksburg, Cameron wore a cream-colored floor-length gown, with a sweetheart neckline and a flowing veil.
Her bouquet was not flowers, but trinkets from different members of her family.
The aisle was lined with wintry white trees with lights in them, and at the front stood an arch made of wintry foliage.
Just before Cameron walked down the aisle, one of the littlest members of the wedding party walked the aisle with a sign that warned Nat it was his last chance to run.
As soon as the couple exchanged their vows and headed back down the aisle, he flipped his sign to the side that read “And they lived happily ever after.”
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413