Sydney Halper’s journey to winning the Miss Idaho USA title last month has been a challenging road. Change, tragedy and ultimately, the power of family and love, altered her life in ways she could never imagine.
Within a period of four months, the 21-year-old Reed High School graduate and senior at the University of Idaho gained a stepfather, lost her brother and learned that her mother had cancer.
Halper said she didn’t know anybody that has had a series of events happen so close together.
Halper was raised in Sparks and graduated from Reed in 2012. Joan Weber-Lucier of Sparks gained guardianship of Halper when Halper was 1 year old and officially adopted her six years later.
When she found out she was going to be adopted, Halper didn’t know how to process the information.
“I think it would’ve been nice to have kind of a mentor,” Halper said. “Somebody that was in that direction or had been through it – who I could talk to and ask questions to.”
Halper’s platform of adoption for the Miss Idaho USA pageant on Sept. 19 allowed her to share her story to help others learn about adoption and how to cope with those lingering questions and feelings because she understood how difficult it could be.
When she was 15 years old, Halper began modeling through Nevada Casting, when she knew she wanted to go into fashion. She found a clothing textile and design program that was offered at the University of Idaho, where her boyfriend and high school sweetheart, Broc Westlake, received a full-ride scholarship to play football. They moved to Idaho in 2013 to attend the university together.
Then last year, a series of events began to change Halper’s life forever.
“In that little window of time, her life changed drastically,” her mother said.
On Aug. 30, 2014, the family celebrated the marriage of Weber-Lucier to Halper’s stepfather, Bart Lucier. Within a matter of days of the wedding, tragedy struck when Halper’s brother, William Lyle, passed away suddenly of a heart attack.
“At my mom’s wedding, the last words that my brother said to me is ‘Sydney, I want you to know how much I love you because I don’t know why, but I just feel like this is going to be the last time that I see you,’” Halper said.
Then in early December, Halper’s family found out more devastating news when Weber-Lucier was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was really difficult and probably the most difficult thing I think I ever had to go through,” Halper said. “Being told this person that’s your rock, your hero, your everything, is not in good health.”
Halper’s family relied on one another to stay strong and to overcome the challenges.
“Everything was happening at once, and there was nothing we can do about any of it,” Halper said. “We just had to try our hardest and be there for each other.”
Weber-Lucier has become Halper’s source of inspiration and strength. Together, these events have motivated Halper to help others who have experienced similar hardships.
“Even though it may hurt for me, my family and people who have gone through this, I want to be able to help as many people as I can because I do know how difficult it can be,” Halper said.
Westlake, a two-time state wrestling champion and star linebacker at Reed High School, has been one of Halper’s biggest supporters during her enduring times.
Halper said her boyfriend loves that she talks about these issues because he’s been there right by her side and knows what it’s like.
Westlake attributes Halper’s strength to her belief that everything happens for a reason. “You can’t change things,” Westlake said. “Sometimes things are just out of your control and you got to try to stay positive.”
Halper’s parents and boyfriend encouraged and supported Halper to follow her dreams and after competing for the past three years in the Miss Idaho USA pageant, Halper finally won the title.
“She had been working for it for a long time, and I just couldn’t be more proud of her and happy that she accomplished her goal,” Westlake said.
The overwhelming support that Halper has received motivated her to continue to chase her dreams. She is excited and optimistic about the future and encourages those who have a dream to go after it.
“You just persevere, and you just have to really keep going,” Halper said. “I think that that’s key, and if you have a dream, or you have a goal or have aspirations, just keep going because you can do it. Anybody can do it.”
Next year, Halper will graduate with a degree in clothing textile and design, with an emphasis in marketing, and will compete as the Idaho representative in the Miss USA pageant. After graduation, Halper plans on pursuing fashion as a stylist or buyer and would like to own an evening gown store in the future.