Waco Cotton Palace Queen 2016

By Gretchen Eichenberg

Madeleine Nicole Young

Madeleine Nicole Young will be crowned Cotton Palace Queen at the 46th annual Waco Cotton Palace Historical Production on Friday, April 22, 2016 at Waco Hall.

Madeleine is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Donald Jeffrey Young. She is the grand-daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Henry Young of Waco, Mr. and Mr. James Scott Matthews of Horseshoe Bay and Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas Brimer of Midland.

Loyal, passionate, vibrant and sensitive. These are some of the qualities that allow Madeleine to be a good friend, serve her community, be self-content and soak up every moment of life. She plans to put these qualities to work as she welcomes guests from near and far to this year’s Waco Cotton Palace.

“As a fifth generation Wacoan, I have heard Cotton Palace stories from my grandmother as long as I can remember,” Madeleine said. “I love that Cotton Palace treasures the history and importance of its legacy and tradition. I am proud of Waco and look forward to sharing this experience with my friends in town as well as the out of town court.”

Madeleine’s Waco roots began in the 1860s. Her great-great-great-grandfather was one of the first peace officers in town and also ran a ferry across the Brazos River. Her great-great-grandfather was a sheriff in the early 1920s. Her great-grandfathers had businesses in Waco on the square and around Waco in the 1930s and 1940s.

Many years later, her grandmother, Billie Jo Young, served on Cotton Palace committees in its revival days during the 1970s and 1980s, and helped build upon the warmth and hospitality that so many experience today. Madeleine’s dad, Jeff, was a Royal Escort in 1980 and her aunts were Princesses in 1984 and 1985. Madeleine’s brother, Jeffrey, was a Royal Escort in 2014. Madeleine, Jeffrey, and her little sister, Mary Catherine, served as Royal Attendants to the King and Queen when they were youngsters. She also has enjoyed playing roles in various scenes of the Friday night Historical Production.

Madeleine’s parents, Jeff and Christi, have been involved in Cotton Palace since they moved back to Waco in 1996, doing everything from playing roles in the historical scenes of the Production to sponsoring their niece who was a Duchess in 2015. Christi has chaired such Cotton Palace committees as Thursday Night Dinners and Gifts, and served as a member of the “Toast to the Court” and Advertising Committees. Christi also served as the Assistant to the Cotton Palace General Chairman.

“Our prayer is that throughout this year’s experience as Cotton Palace Queen, Madeleine will first and foremost glorify God,” Christi said. “Jeff and I hope that she will exemplify the sincere sense of pride and love she has for her community and the people around her. We also hope she will be a true reflection of the warm, embracing nature of our home, Waco.”


Love of learning

Madeleine is a senior at Midway High School where she serves as captain of the Goal Tenders dance team, a member of Peer Assistance Leadership Strategies (PALS) and a member of the National Honor Society. She is a four-year recipient of the Spirit of Midway Award, an award that promotes and recognizes achievement, initiative and community service. Madeleine also has been involved in Link Crew (a freshmen mentor organization), Spanish Club, Diamond Darlings and the school’s production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Madeleine said she’s been fortunate to have many inspirational teachers and mentors throughout her education. Her dance team coach, Cindy Ledbetter, stands out, she said.

“Coach L is an amazing example of perseverance, class and poise,” Madeleine said. “I admire her fight. She has been battling cancer for the four years I have known her, but she still manages to always smile, stay positive, and encourages us — 60 teenage girls. And her daughter, our other Coach, Lorie Wadsworth, is very supportive and helps the team keep things in perspective when challenges arise. We spend so much time with them throughout the year — dance team is a 10-month commitment — they are like second moms. They treat us as their own and expect nothing but the best from us.”

Madeleine said History and Geometry are two of her favorite subjects in school for the following reasons:

“History has always been a favorite,” she said. “Old things are fascinating to me. I love to hear stories from the past. If I could be granted a few wishes, one would be to be able to be a teenager in every decade of the 1900s.”

“My geometry teacher, Mrs. Erin Musgrave, made everyone in the class feel important,” she said. “That’s important to me because she helped instill in me a sense of self-confidence in a subject that can sometimes be challenging.”

Texas Christian University is Madeleine’s college choice and she’s looking forward to stretching her wings.

“I’m excited to meet new friends and experience college life,” she said. “It’s a chance to become more independent and grow as a person. I know I will need to adjust and survive on my own.”

Serving her community

One of Madeleine’s favorite quotes, by Audrey Hepburn, states: “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, and one for helping others.” Even as a busy high school student, Madeleine has made it a priority to serve her community and those in need. The National Charity League (NCL), an organization that encourages mothers and daughters to volunteer together, has been a big part of that commitment for the past six years.

“The National Charity League has provided opportunities for me to serve around the community,” she said. “Meals on Wheels has been a favorite of mine. I love knowing I can help someone who doesn’t have anyone else to help, simply by bringing them a meal.”

Compassion Ministries and the Family Abuse Center are other places Madeleine has found she can make a difference.

“I love playing with little kids and there I get to love on those kids who really just need a friend,” Madeleine said. “One of my other favorite things to do is go with my mom at Christmas time to shop for a family we adopt from the Talitha Koum nurture center and children served by Child Protective Services. It makes me really happy to pick out clothes and toys for someone who needs them and will really appreciate them.”

When young people develop a love for serving others, it helps them understand that sometimes their own needs aren’t as big as they think, Madeleine said.

“Serving at an early age teaches selflessness and compassion,” she said. “The feeling of helping someone in need can’t be surpassed. You begin to understand the true meaning of “it’s better to give than to receive.’”

Madeleine also has become involved in the community through Teen Leadership Waco, an organization dedicated to providing young people a better understanding of how their community works and how they can make a difference in it. She said she especially loved meeting new kids and making new friends from other schools around Waco that she would have never had the opportunity to know otherwise.

“I enjoyed learning about all different aspects of making our town run successfully,” she said. “ I’m hoping to become a nurse, so the medical day was particularly interesting to me.”

As a Symphony Belle, Madeleine said she gained an appreciation for music and its importance in society.

“I never knew how much the Waco Symphony does for Waco and even children’s music education,” she said. “I also love that the Belle and Brass program brings together old friends rekindling childhood relationships, as well as developing friendships with kids from other schools. I’m looking forward to the same experience during Cotton Palace.”

Work and fun

When she’s not dancing, which requires a big time commitment, Madeleine said she loves hanging out with her friends, playing with her dog “Angel,” shopping and babysitting.

“Dance does take a lot of my time, but I love it,” she said. “I wouldn’t know what to do without dance.”

Family vacations are something Madeleine said she treasures.

“We pretty much ski in the winter and go to the beach in the summer,” she said. “We have also gone to California for a summer trip. That is my favorite! I am definitely a beach girl.”

A family beach trip, time spent working, possibly in the medical field, and lots of babysitting are on Madeleine’s checklist for the last summer she spends at home before going off to college.

Life in Waco

Madeleine said she likes that Waco has a small-town feel, but has a lot to offer. Favorite spots where you might run into Madeleine and her friends: Lake Waco, Woodway Park, shopping at Spice and Roots or attending a church or K-Life activity.

The Youngs are members of First United Methodist Waco, where Madeleine’s dad and grandparents have been members since the early 1960s.
“It is important to us as Christians and as a family to have that foundation, a church home, with family,” she said.

queenBeing Queen

Royalty came as a special surprise to Madeleine.

“I found out at my dress fitting in December,” she said. “My mom and my grandmother were there, and I tried on my dress, which was pretty much completely finished. Then someone said, ‘Looks like it needs something else and they brought out the robe and the crown. It was amazing!”

Madeleine’s dress is constructed of delicate white lace with glittering silver sequins, atop soft white peau de soie. The bodice features a basque waist, cap sleeves and a sweetheart neckline, all of which are accented with rhinestone trim. The skirt features additional rhinestone banding in a scalloped fashion, accented with large marquise-shaped rhinestone appliques. The ornamental train is bordered with heavy rhinestone trim, and highlighted with 20 shimmering appliques. The entire dress is embellished with over 2,300 hand-placed Swarovski crystals.

The gown was designed by Amanda Nesbitt, Court Costumes Chairman, and expertly constructed by Roxana Robles of Couture Tailoring.

Madeleine said she’s appreciative of the opportunity to represent her city and its history.

“I am excited to make new friends,” she said. “I love new experiences and hope to do my part to provide a warm and inviting experience to the other court members. I am so honored to be the queen and have been so blessed through this experience already and want to honor my city and Waco Cotton Palace as their ambassador. I am also looking forward to hearing about the lives of kids and how different their lives are in other cities — and maybe even find a college roommate.”