“The Friday Night Lights Miss Spirit Award goes to Brenda Holder!”
The talented student had just performed, singing to the song, “Angels Among Us,” which she had practiced for four months.
The pageant was actually held on May 17, but Brenda couldn’t be present. A tragic accident had taken the life of her uncle and she would stay by her mother’s side and share her grief.
So, in June, a special awards recognition ceremony was held just for Brenda. She wore her pageant dress and dedicated the song in the talent category to her uncle, Miles “Woody” Holder, she recalled with tears.
Brenda was escorted by her friend Jeremy Hitson. Her face lit up as she added with a sparkle, “He is my fiancee.”
Her parents Jim and Mandy Holder were present to help cheer her on during her performance, along with her grandparents Howard and Frieda Mercer and other family members, who came from out-of-town for the special event.
There were 17 entries in the pageant — including Brenda, who has been with Friday Night Lights since its inception in January 2013. Performing with the group, she said, is her delight.
Her school years include Arnold Memorial Elementary, Cleveland Middle School and Cleveland High School, as well as Trousdale.
Brenda is also among the 15 who have been nominated for the Cleveland High School Hall of Fame induction, to be held Sept. 5, and she is working on her speech for the event. This is the second year CHS has had the Hall of Fame program.
But the young performer and athlete is not only interested in performing — she is also involved in sports and other activities. “I’m a good basketball player,” she said. And she has several medals she garnered in Special Olympics, including bocce and swimming.
It’s been a wonderful 33 years together, Brenda and her parents agree, starting two years after the Holders were married. Brenda was adopted by the Holders when 9 years old, after two years’ living in their home.
During Mrs. Holder’s first year of teaching in Georgia, she had Brenda in her class. When Brenda needed a place to go, the Holders invited her to stay with them. This led to their foster care and about a year later, they began adoption procedures in Georgia. The adoption process was delayed for a year when Mr. Holder moved to a job in Tennessee.
They hold a special pride in their daughter, who has worked 14 years at Jenkins Deli — along with her friend Heather Collins. Mrs. Holder says her daughter has surpassed her with her skills and expertise at her job.