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Top Model to Role Model: Leah Darrow Tours Northern Michigan


Leah Darrow, former contestant on America’s Next Top Model, spoke to hundreds of youth across the Diocese of Gaylord at the end of April. Leah made presentations in Traverse City, Onaway, Petoskey and Gaylord, sharing her life story and challenging teens to accept the mercy of Christ, embrace true love and welcome conversion.

With strong Catholic roots, Leah describes herself as a “prodigal daughter.” Lured by the comforts of this world, she slowly wandered from her Catholic faith through making bad choices and by making small compromises along her life journey.

Leah spoke to teens about her experience being on the set of America’s Next Top Model, including how the cameramen would follow the young women around 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There was no privacy. She described how all of the doors were taken off of their hinges and even the shower curtains were removed. She also explained how the massive hours of tape were then edited and pieced together, sometimes out of sequence, in order to create the show.

After being eliminated from the show, Leah continued to model, making $8,000 – $16,000 per day. After facing too many situations where her dignity as a woman was compromised, one day she decided to walk away from it all. She called her father and said to him, “If you don’t come and get me, I’m going to lose my soul.” Her father immediately got into his car and drove from Missouri to New York to pick up his daughter. God’s mercy and supernatural grace gave her the courage to change every aspect of her life

Inspired by John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Pope Benedict XVI, Leah now travels the country hoping to reaches out to all those lost in sin, scared to change and offers them the lighted pathway to Christ, our Hope and our Salvation.

Leah told teens it came down to the choice between living a comfortable life versus an extraordinary life... Leah attributes her true conversion and fortitude to the power of the rosary and the Blessed Mother.

Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Leah encouraged her audiences proclaiming, “The world promises you comfort but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!”

Leah’s talk at St. Francis in Traverse City brought together students from the Catholic High Schools throughout the Diocese and was preceded with Mass celebrated by Bishop Bernard Hebda.

Following a presentation to students at Onaway Public Schools, Leah traveled to Petoskey where she spoke more in depth about modesty and how our outward appearance can radiate our inner selves and is often seen as a billboard for others about our beliefs and correlates to how we live our lives. The evening also featured a fashion show with teens from Petoskey’s JPII Youth Ministry serving as the models.

In Gaylord, Leah addressed the Mystical Rose Daughters of Faith young women’s group as part of a special day which included attending the Deacon Ordination of Chet Collins and Bryan Medlin. After lunch, the girls took time to write a letter of encouragement to their future selves.

Leah graduated with honors from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a BA degree in Psychology. She feels called, especially, to remind and reawaken the virtuous gifts women can contribute to the world, therefore changing the world. Her appearances in the Diocese were hosted by the Diocese of Gaylord and JPII Youth Ministry in Petoskey.

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