Proud grandfather Lawrence (Skip) Begley of Alpena was among several hundred spectators on hand last week in Muskegon when his 17-year-old granddaughter, Alisha Gatchel of Greenville, was crowned Miss Michigan's Outstanding Teen.
"It was breathtaking to be there," Begley said. "When it got down to the first runner-up and Alisha, there was a big pause before they announced her as the winner."
A senior at Greenville High School, Gatchel also garnered one of two talent awards for her performance of an original vocal and piano composition titled, "Strong Than This."
Alpena resident Lawrence (Skip) Begley poses with his granddaughter, Alisha Gatchel of Greenville, following her recent winning of the Miss Michigan Outstanding Teen Program.
The song complemented her platform, which is focused on supporting pediatric cancer patients and their families. Gatchel said she wrote the composition for her 9-year-old friend, who recently was re-diagnosed with cancer.
The young musician, who was invited to try out for the talent-focused television shows the "X-Factor" and "The Voice," plans on earning a master's degree in music performance and child life services to become an artist and child life specialist.
Leading Judge Sheli Vandelinde said all of the final contestants in the Miss Michigan Outstanding Teen Program performed well, but Gatchel stood out.
"She was poised. She spoke well and was very talented," Vandelinde said. "She interviewed very well and was just an all-around great girl."
As this year's winner, Gatchel will receive a $1,000 cash scholarship to attend an accredited college of her choice. She next heads to Orlando, Fla., in August where she will compete at the national level. Her grandfather plans to travel there as well in support of her efforts.
"There's no question I'm going," Begley said, adding that he believes a big part of her winning had to do with her talent since she not only composed the lyrics and music to a song, but she sang it and accompanied herself on the piano.
"She showed them four different talents," said Begley, whose wife and Gatchel's grandmother, Mary, passed away earlier this year.
Gatchel's mother and Begley's daughter, Holly, is an Alpena High School graduate and attended Alpena Community College.