Gretchen Roufs' portraitYears ago, John Treat watched his sons pull their sister, Taylor, around the warehouse in a mop bucket with a mop on her head.

Earlier this summer, John, president and owner of Treat’s Solutions, a janitorial supply distributor with locations in Ada and Tulsa, Okla., and his wife Debra, who also works at Treat’s, watched that same girl become the newly crowned Miss Oklahoma.

The path to winning the Miss Oklahoma Scholarship pageant, part of the Miss America Organization, is a long one. To compete in the state-level pageant, one has to first win a local pageant. Four years ago Taylor won the Miss Ada pageant (the first one held in Ada in 20 years). Since then, she has also competed in the Miss Oklahoma pageant, the Miss Oklahoma University pageant, and the Miss Oklahoma State Fair pageant.

Taylor, the only girl in the family, grew up among brothers who were very active in sports.

“The boys and I were all about sports,” says John. “Then, along came a little girl and I said, ‘that’s not my cup of tea.’ Debra, however, spent a lot of time driving Taylor around in a vehicle full of dance things and tutus and girl stuff.”

At her first dance recital at age three, Taylor left the stage in tears, to which John responded, “Let’s get her playing softball.” But eventually, John adapted to a life of dance and pageants and Taylor stayed off the softball field. Good thing, too, because she evolved into an accomplished ballet dancer and dance instructor, and spent three summers training with the Houston Ballet, an intense, invitation-only academy in Texas.

Being crowned Miss Oklahoma means that Taylor has had to adjust to a whole new life.

It’s a full time job, so the 22-year-old honor student has to take a break from her Oklahoma University career.

“As Miss Oklahoma, she’ll be driving almost 40,000 miles this year, and will make four to six school appearances per day. She is reaching out quickly and in a big way. She’s hell-bent on perfection and has her mind set on goals,” says John.

One of the first things that Taylor did as Miss Oklahoma was to set up a meeting with the Oklahoma state superintendent of education. She has a strong “service and learning in the community” platform that is focused on serving one’s community while in school, and wants to bring her service and learning agenda to schools around the entire state.

During Taylor’s year serving the state of Oklahoma, the Treat family will miss her. The day after she won the pageant, she was moved right in to her Miss Oklahoma apartment in Tulsa, instead of returning to the Treat’s farm in Ada. The family has only seen her three times since she won in early June and it doesn’t sound like she’ll be around for the holidays as she prepares for the Miss America pageant held on January 30, 2010.

As hard as the distance is, John says he’s loved watching his little girl, who used to be a tomboy, develop into such an eloquent young woman.

“I shed a tear or two watching Taylor in this last pageant,” he says. “And I told her every day leading up to the competition that even if she didn’t win, she would always be number one in my heart.”

Gretchen Roufs, an 18-year janitorial supply industry veteran, owns a marketing and public relations company in San Antonio. To suggest someone you think should be featured in “Freetime,” contact her at