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Three happy babies flashed their winning smiles and dimples on Friday, when they took first, second and third place in voting for The Gazette’s 2013 Beautiful Baby Photo Contest.
This contest is an annual effort to raise funds to support The Gazette’s Newspapers in Education program, which helps to provide newspapers to local schools for educational purposes.
Readers donated 25 cents per vote through four separate rounds. Contestants were narrowed down each week, and the winners were selected from the babies left in the final round. There were nine initial contestants.
The winners are: Madison Lunsford, first place; Jared Spencer, second place; and Hayden Jean Bond, third place. Other finalists were Nevaeh Rosalie Sharp, who won fourth place.
First-place winner Madison Lunsford is six months old. She is the daughter of Cody Lunsford and Ginny Licitra of Independence. Her grandparents are Ro Licitra and Robin Sizer. He also has an honorary grandfather, Michael Crouse.
Licitra heard about the Beautiful Baby contest in previous years, when her niece was a contestant. “We had seen it in the paper, and I thought we would try it out,” she said.
After printing off a stack of photos of Madison, Licitra’s mother brought them to The Gazette, where a staff member helped her to select one for the entry.
Madison’s family spread the word about the contest at work and everywhere they went, and several friends and family members helped them out with votes.
When she was asked to describe Madison, Licitra said, “She’s really funny. She makes the funniest faces.”
From the time she was a newborn, Licitra described her as a calm baby, who hardly ever cried except when she was hungry.
She loves playing in the bath with her toys, and she loves monkeys. She also takes Licitra’s keys hostage whenever they go anywhere. “I have a green keychain that she loves to chew on, and she has to have my keychain whenever I get in my car. I had to take my key off so I could drive,” she laughed.
Madison received 1,168 votes.
Jared Spencer of Galax was this year’s second-place winner. He is 19.5 months old, and is the son of Brittany Burcham and Billy Spencer.
His grandparents are William Spencer and John and Jennifer Farmer. His great-grandparents are Ed Farmer and the late Iva Farmer; and Howard and Zollie Easter. His great-great grandmother is Opal Robinson.
Jared has been a finalist in the contest before, landing third place in 2012. This is the last year he is eligible.
In his entry photo, Jared sports a huge grin that Burcham says is his natural look. “He has smiles on him all the time. He plays, he is wide open and he’s an outdoors person,” she said. He loves to play ball, and to play on the swings and slide on the playground. His favorite toys are the ones that make sounds.
Jared received 960 votes.
The third-place winner was Hayden Jean Bond of Galax.
She is the four-month-old daughter of Katie and Tyler Bond. Her grandparents are Tammy and Terry Anders, Randy White and the late Debbie White.
This year was Hayden’s first time running in the Beautiful Baby Contest. Her entry photo is one of several professional pictures that her mother has had taken.
Katie Bond describes Hayden as “very funny and loving. She loves to hug and kiss, and she loves to cry with her big brother. She’s a mommy’s girl.”
Hayden never goes anywhere without her favorite toy duckie. She received approximately 800 votes.
Nevaeh Rosalie Sharp of Independence came in fourth place this year with 770 votes. Her parents are Bradley and Nicole Sharp.