Rowan County Veteran Queen candidates

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 29, 2024

Compiled by Karen Kistler

Kayla Grace Trexler

Kayla Grace Trexler

Birthday: April 13, 2006

Veteran organization you are representing: VFW Post 9134, Rockwell

School and grade completed in 2024: East Rowan, 2024 graduate

Activities and accomplishments: Chorus, got a cord for attending all four years

Sports: Cheerleading, volleyball

Academics: Early graduate with all A’s

Plans for the future: I plan to attend Pinnacle in Mooresville and be a licensed cosmetologist

Are you involved with veterans or local VA Hospital: None

Hours and how you are involved with veterans: None

Why would you like to represent the Rowan County veterans: Nowadays people look down on the USA and the people who have fought for it. It’s super important to appreciate them and help them.

Other community services and hours you would like to share: I have been caroling with Immanuel and delivering gifts to the nursing home. I have also helped out at West Point Baptist Church to distribute food, clothing, school supplies and more.

My name is Kayla. I just turned 18 and graduated from East Rowan High School. My biggest interest is singing. I have sung since I was a little girl. I’ve danced or sung or played in some musicals. Then I would say taking in life. You’re nothing but a speck on a ball of dirt that feels every emotion ever. I love my pet and all animals. God couldn’t have made anything prettier. I always try to help when I can and not make people do anything alone.


Noelle Marie Richardson

Noelle Marie Richardson

Birthday: March 27, 2006

Veteran organization you are representing: Faith Legion Post 327

School and grade completed in 2024: Rowan Cabarrus Early College, grade 12

Activities and accomplishments: Junior Civitans, DAR Good Citizen, National Honor Society, National Society of Leadership and Success

Sports: N/A

Academics: High school graduate with an associate’s degree. Will be attending Catawba.

Plans for the future: I plan to continue my education at Catawba College and get my four year degree and then to go to graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill.

Are you involved with veterans or local VA Hospital: I have been getting more involved with veterans at the luncheon every Tuesday. 

Hours and how you are involved with veterans: I have done some work with them with NHS as well doing wreaths for veterans, and I have done some volunteer work for the Legion Post I am representing. In total, I have done a little over 60 hours.

Why would you like to represent the Rowan County veterans: I enjoy volunteering and supporting of veterans because my dad is a veteran and it is very important to me to be able to give back for everything they did for us.

Other community services and hours you would like to share: I have done volunteer work with Trinity Living Center, and I have led a club that is based on volunteering (NHS). I have also volunteered around the community with Junior Civitan.

I would describe myself as a very driven and goal-oriented person. When I set my mind to it, there is very little that I can’t accomplish, and I won’t stop until I achieve my goals. I love going out and “getting my hands dirty.” I have always been more of a hands-on type of person, and that’s why I like volunteering so much. It gives me a chance to really interact with the community as well as help people. I also love to make things whether it’s painting, embroidery or helping my dad build something. Sometimes it’s hard to see the final project when you are creating something, but it’s that challenge that I love. Coming up with solutions and finding where everything fits. It’s all worth it when you see the final project.


Sara Victoria Pierce

Sara Victoria Pierce

Birthday: September 10, 2005

Veteran organization you are representing: Amvets Post 565

School and grade completed in 2024: Rowan County Early College, 12th grade graduate

Activities and accomplishments: Graduated cum laude, also finished associate’s degree.

Sports: Avid fisher and hunter

Academics: Graduated cum laude, member of National Honors Society.

Plans for the future: Attending Western Carolina in fall to study behavioral therapy. Will be working with veterans with P.T.S.D.

Are you involved with veterans or local VA Hospital: Much involved with veterans through local church.

Hours and how you are involved with veterans: Also sing occasionally at veteran funerals.

Involvement with veteran organizations: Church involvement on Memorial Day and Veterans Day at West Lawn Cemetery.

Why would you like to represent the Rowan County veterans: It is a great honor to represent those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. My family has been represented in every conflict going back to the Revolutionary War.

Other community services and hours you would like to share: More than 3,500 hours logged working with autistic children, foster children and community service.

For the past four years, my passion has been working with children who are on the autistic spectrum. I am now enrolled at WCU where my course of study has evolved into working with veterans in both behavioral and recreational therapy. I am very involved in my local church congregation at Friendship Baptist Church.


Riley Camryn Wilhite

Riley Camryn Wilhite

Birthday: December 28, 2007

Veteran organization you are representing: Legion Post 342

School and grade completed in 2024: Carson High School, grade 10.

Activities and accomplishments: Girl Scouts, CPR, Stop the Bleed and first aid certified

Sports: Volleyball, track

Academics: 3.5 GPA, enrolled in the CNA program

Plans for the future: To be a NICU nurse and start a family, have two or three kids, and to keep helping out anyone in any and all ways.

Are you involved with veterans or local VA Hospital: My grandpa (Bumpa) Jim Wallfred is a veteran and I help him out all the time.

Why would you like to represent the Rowan County veterans: I always wanted to help veterans out, in any and all ways. This was something that I love to do and had time for. I also love putting smiles on their faces and making their days even more special.

Other community services and hours you would like to share: Help with younger kids in volleyball camps, Meals On Wheels, helped the special needs program at Southeast Middle School.

Nature is my best friend. Every chance I get to go outside and walk, I will take it. Sunrises and sunsets and the beach, I could wake up super early and watch the sun rise. If you ever ask me for a picture of the sky, I could show you hundreds of them. I’m also addicted to shopping and look for different outfits and clothes. Love caring for others and making sure they are OK. If any one of my friends need someone to talk to, they come to me. Caring for others is another reason why I want to be a nurse, that and the medicine practice of it. Kids are also amazing. I love to take care of my very little cousins, watching them grow up is so fun. Volleyball is also my everything. If you ask me to do something and I can’t, it’s probably because I have practice or play beach volleyball with my friends. I am trying my hardest to get recruited to play in college! Overall I am very caring and thoughtful, and I will give you my all. I am very thankful for this opportunity and appreciate everything y’all veterans do for this country!


Laurel Everett Miller

Laurel Everett Miller

Birthday: April 21, 2006

Veteran organization you are representing: American Legion Post 185

School and grade completed in 2024: South Rowan High School, 12th grade

Activities and accomplishments: Younglife, Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy, YMCA volleyball coach, Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Sports: Swim and volleyball, also a part of basketball and softball teams at South

Academics: Student council, National Honors Society

Plans for the future: Attend UNC Chapel Hill to pursue a career in dental hygiene.

Are you involved with veterans or local VA Hospital: I was responsible for a service day at a veterans house. I am not involved at the VA Hospital.

Hours and how are you involved with veterans: N/A

Why would you like to represent the Rowan County veterans: Because I’m a big fan of all the dedication and help in the community that I have seen in my time at South Rowan from Wild Bill Corriher.

Other community services and hours you would like to share: serving at Charity Baptist Church, Bible study leader at The Holy Grind, helping work in the nursery at church weekly, internship at Branchview Dental care, volleyball coach. Twenty hours volunteered weekly for these. 

My name is Laurel, and I have just recently graduated from South Rowan High School. I love Jesus and strive to make others feel known and loved by reflecting His truth and light. I’m a big people person, and I love spending time outside and playing fun games. I love to learn new things from people and truly take the time to listen to what they share. Volleyball and swimming are a couple of my favorite sports, but I also love to play instruments as well, such as the guitar, piano and ukulele. I have also grown to be passionate about the career of dental hygiene and plan to continue to pursue that in the fall.


Callie Bennett Trexler

Callie Bennett Trexler

Birthday: May 11, 2004

Veteran organization you are representing: AMVETS Post 845

School and grade completed in 2024: Catawba College, sophomore year

Activities and accomplishments: Catawba College dean’s list, UNC Charlotte dean’s list, National Society of Leadership and Success, Helen Foil Beard Women’s Society, Project Learning Tree Professional Development, First place medal Winter Flight 5k (2024), Second place medal, Shiloh 5k Mission Run (2023), Carson High School: junior marshal, National Honor Society, Homecoming Queen, Student Council, Junior Civitan, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Crosby Scholars.

Sports: Catawba cheerleading co-captain, Carson High School: varsity cheer captain, Carson competition cheer team, varsity soccer, cross country, track. 

Academics: I began my first year of college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Realizing that I was better suited for a smaller college, I transferred to Catawba College in January of 2023. I recently finished my sophomore year with a 3.97 GPA.

Plans for the future: My future plans include completing a bachelor’s degree in environment and sustainability with a concentration in natural resource management. I also plan to complete minors in nutrition and ecology. After graduation, I plan to earn my master’s degree in animal science at N.C. State with a goal of having a career in agriculture.

Are you involved with veterans or local VA Hospital: Yes

Hours and how are you involved with veterans: Assist with veterans weekly lunch at Christiana Lutheran Church, 21.5 hours; Organized a service project to collect and donate items requested by the Salisbury VA; Assist with Powles Staton Funeral Home veteran luncheons, 5 hours; Veterans Day lunch at Catawba College, 3 hours; Veterans Day ceremony at the VA, 1 hour; Veterans Day parades (VA campus and downtown Salisbury) 3.5 hours; Decorated veterans doors at the Meadows of Rockwell, 1.5 hours; Treat bags to veterans at the Meadows of Rockwell, 2 hours; Wreaths Across America at the Salisbury National Cemetery, 1 hour; Memorial Day Ceremony at the Salisbury National Cemetery, 1 hour; Assisted with Veterans Day service at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1 hour; Removed Veterans Day flags from Immanuel Lutheran Church cemetery, 30 minutes; Veterans Council meeting at AMVETS Post 845, 1 hour.

Why would you like to represent the Rowan County veterans: It would be a great honor to represent the veterans of Rowan County. They have sacrificed so much to defend the freedoms that I enjoy today. It would be a humbling experience as well as a wonderful way to thank all veterans for their service to our great nation. I believe that many from my generation do not understand the debt owed to our veterans. I want to bring awareness to and encourage youth to appreciate veterans. It would also be a special way for me to honor the legacy of the veterans from my own family. My grandfather was a tail gunner aboard a Douglas A-26 Invader in the Army Air Force (which later became the Air Force) during WWII. He selflessly served for four years; as did his two brothers, one in the Army and one in the Navy. I love reading the letters he sent home to his mother and hearing stories from my own mother about his time overseas. My great-grandmother, in gratitude for all three of her boys returning home safely from WWII, spent 40 years volunteering in the recreational therapy department of the Salisbury VA. I also had a great uncle who was killed during WWII at just 21 years old. Each year we visit his grave on Memorial Day at the Salisbury National Cemetery and every year it is incredibly moving to see all the white grave markers with a flag placed by each one. For all of these reasons, it would be an honor and a privilege to serve the veterans of Rowan County as Miss Rowan County Veterans. 

Other community services and hours you would like to share: Immanuel Lutheran Church events: Christmas caroling to shut-ins, Easter egg hunt, Gold Age Banquet, Lenten reader, acolyte, Bible school crew leader, gift bags to nursing homes; Immanuel Lutheran handbell choir, Liberty Volunteer Fire Department fundraiser volunteer, Morgan Elementary School fundraiser volunteer, Faith Community Choir Patriotic Program, Rowan Helping Ministries kitchen and food pantry volunteer, Meals on Wheels delivery driver, Rowan-Salisbury Schools volunteer with nutrition program, Catawba College nutrition program community events, working with patients with traumatic brain injury, visual impairment Putt-Putt Tournament, Special Olympics, Community Elf with Santa (aka Dad) on Christmas Eve, Rockwell Civitan Breakfast with Santa (as elf with Santa), Gold Hill Men’s Club Widow Dinner, Winter Wonderland Ball at the Meadows at Rockwell. 

I have lived my entire life here in Rowan County. I am a 2022 graduate of Carson High School and a rising junior at Catawba College, where I am a co-captain of the cheerleading team. Our family business is a farming operation in Gold Hill. From washing combines, tractors and 18-wheelers, mowing and weed eating endlessly, being the only one with small enough hands to reach that certain bolt in equipment, pulling calves, bottle-raising piglets and washing down our chicken houses before the next flock of 80,000 chicks arrive, I have had plenty of opportunities to learn the value of hard work at Trexler Farms. I love the beach, painting, running, traveling out west each year to duck hunt and spending time with my family and friends.